"Evening, All" (as Dixon of Dock Green used to say - and I wonder how many of you remember him?)
Well, this is not exactly a "normal" City Alert, but then again, the past few days have hardly been normal, have they! This Alert was initially conceived just as a passing-on of today's greatly extended Truro City column in the Sunday Independent, for those of you who don't get to see that newspaper. But when you earn your living from writing, and when you've been on the emotional roller-coaster that we've all been riding of late, then tiz difficult not to indulge in a few reflections and sentiments.
For starters, I'm sure you would all agree that everything that has happened since Thursday definitely comes under the heading of "you couldn't make it up." Not once but twice, in the space of eight short days, we have found ourselves first mourning the loss of something truly special, and then celebrating its return from the "dead." For the second week running, I spent the greater part of a Friday monitoring a bewildering whirlpool of events and then carefully crafting a 1,000-word-plus "obituary" on Truro City - my column for the Indy - only to have to start all over again after the late, late news, out of the blue, of a reprieve.
My Indy column (today's is attached) is normally put to bed by around the middle of the week. For the past two weeks, sports editor John Collings has stressed that it could go right to the wire if necessary - even into Saturday morning. That's how it was for the weekend of October 13-14, with the first "obituary" being replaced by a completely new column written up on the Saturday morning.
Second time round, it was all too much. There was no way I was going to last through the night until yesterday morning. I woke with a jolt at just after 2 am - suddenly wide awake, with the new column whizzing round in my head, desperate to break out and land on my computer screen. There was nothing for it. Up I got and started writing that column. First, I checked various sites for the umpteenth time - and was relieved, via TigerTalk, to learn that I was by no means the only one enduring a sleepless night.
I couldn't resist chucking in my own two pennerth: "Morning, all. I can't sleep, either. Having spent many hours yesterday monitoring events and writing up a 1,000-word-plus 'obituary' on the club, I'm now having to start all over again with a completely new column for this Sunday's Independent!! But I've never been happier to lose a night's sleep."
Ninety minutes and 1,400 new words later, around 4 am, the column had been re-written and emailed to the Indy. My original piece concluded with a fabulous tweet from Robin Netherton (which I reinserted higher up in the Mark 2 version). Among all the tweets and threads that I was monitoring on Friday afternoon, that one more than any other caught my eye. It just said it all.
Trouble was, I hadn't been entirely sure of Robin's term of reference (ex-chairman of the former Supporters Club, for 26 years). I thought I had his phone number, but didn't. So I emailed him - this is all back on Friday afternoon now - and began phoning round a few other people who might know the answer. They included Steve Clark, the man who works in newspapers up the line. We had a good chat. He would be drowning his sorrows, he said, adding that he would probably start to feel maudlin around the fifth pint and also fearing the mother and father of an empty feeling come 3 pm on Saturdays from now on.
Meanwhile, Robin was replying by email and I was asking him further questions, again by email. Eventually, the phone rang and it was Robin - his voice, another real live human - which struck me as a delightful novelty, such a rarity in this day and age of communication by email and text etc.
So Robin and I talked to each other, helping me put that "obituary" to bed. I had spent the greater part of Friday monitoring that crazy flurry of events and then doing my stuff for the Indy. Janet, my Lancastrian wife and business partner, regularly mumbled: "'ow much MONEY 'ave we earned today?" And I would snap: "NOTHING! This is my HOBBY, remember? It's a nice break from writing up thousands of words of biography every day and it's good for me in my advancing years, RIGHT?"
Well, I'm not so sure it's good for me to be back at my computer, revving up maxi brain power, in the middle of the night, but that was one case of sleep deprivation that I was absolutely delighted to endure!
Thankfully, John Collings did Truro City proud, as ever, with this time the best part of a page devoted to the column. It included a photo of Hodgey with the caption MIRACLE MAN. True enough. In fact, reflecting on everything he's achieved, and coped with, in the face of such mountainous odds, I found myself thinking back to Michael Owen's wonder goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. Remember that one? Owen was a kid just bursting onto the international scene, and the TV commentator brilliantly remarked: "What WILL he be like when he grows up?" Of Hodgey, I am sure you would all agree with the thought: "What WOULD he be like with a FULL squad and a 'NORMAL' club?!!"
So . . . memo to anyone who knows how to do these things - print a blow-up of that pic of him and caption in today's Indy, without delay, stick it onto a poster and wave it in front of him when he next trots out on to the pitch. Our MIRACLE MAN. Because now - WOW! - it's game back on again, starting with the visit to Staines this Tuesday. No doubt our travelling fans will do their stuff there in fine style. Then it's our next home match, against Sutton United this Saturday, 3 pm. And what an occasion I trust that will be.
First, I'd like to think that our saviours, the guys who stumped up that £50,000 bond, will be present, and that they will be persuaded - dragged, screaming if necessary - to go out into the centre of the pitch and give us all a wave so that we in turn can show them our eternal gratitude by giving them the applause they so richly deserve.
Then I hope we can maybe go even better and - casting off our legendary Cornish reticence and shyness (?) - really raise the roof with the biggest cheer Treyew Road has ever heard as we greet THE SIGHT WE THOUGHT WE'D NEVER SEE AGAIN, with our boys taking to the field once more. There's really nothing I can usefully add to all the words that have already been said and written about these lads' incredible loyalty and patience over the past few horrendously uncertain and money-free months. So let's leave them in absolutely no doubt that we really do regard them, in more ways than one, as THE GREATEST!
And Postscript MEMO to Billy Williams:-- what did I say at the Bath City game? I TOLD you it wouldn't be the last match, didn't I!!!
MIKE TRUSCOTT, CITY ALERTS