Curbing Your Enthusiasm: A night out at Wembley with the lads

A former Premier League manager approached us here at Tales and asked that we publish his diaries, so he could show the public what life is like out of the game. His only request was that he remained anonymous. Below is this week’s entry:

I am delighted to inform you that I had the great pleasure of attending England vs Slovakia on Monday evening. Not only that, I was actually invited. By my friends at the newly formed Icarus Club. This is a new club set up by managers and former managers who almost became England manager. Anyone who was either interviewed or in some cases, appeared in the betting markets as a favourite for the post, is eligible. And we love a tear up!

I arrived at Wembley, where I was met by a member of staff who would be taking me up to meet the lads in our box. As was the custom in our club, I was wearing full formal wear: bow tie, blazer, cumberbund, top hat; it was like women’s day at the races, except filled entirely with hetero men.

Let me run through some of the legends attending tonight that make up our group: Paul Jewell, Alan Pardew and Tim Sherwood. To be honest, reader, I may as well have written Myth, Legend and Hero. Normally our group is much larger, but due to the event and time of year, our numbers had been cut. There would be no Harry Redknapp as he was still recovering from deadline day and none of the foreign lads ever come if Tim is there. Such a shame.

We’d paid for unlimited drinks at the bar, so it would be full on party mode as England took one step closer to the World Cup. Alan Pardew arrived with his usual entourage of lovely women. As a happily married man, I have no interest in such dalliances, but Alan is always flanked by at least two women. Not many people know, that now when he appears on Sky, he insists they are allowed to stand just off camera. Occasionally, if you look closely enough, you can see their feather boa at the edge of the screen or in the reflection of Alan’s glasses. A true ‘playa’ if I ever saw one.

Paul always insists on bringing his filming equipment. Every night out starts with him taking ages to set everything up. The lighting has to be perfect, the tripod set at the right height and we have to spend the whole evening stood at one end of the room. Paul says he’s making an epic DVD of all our parties, but I’ve never actually seen a copy. The other boys say that what Paul films is an amazing watch. But every time I ask him to see what he’s filmed he gets a mischievous look in his eye and says that I wouldn’t get anything out of it because I’m too much of a stick in the mud. Tonight I’m going to show him I can party like the best of them.

As the game started, we all ‘cracked open’ and started playing beer pong. It was me and Tim versus Pards and one of his lady friends. I quickly downed a Corona just to get started, while Tim filled each cup with a few shots of whiskey. I’m not used to this level of drinking, but I need to win the respect of these boys.

I was ready, but I have to admit I’m not a good shot with a ping pong ball. We went a few cups down very early on. The room was starting to whirl and Tim was starting to get a bit irate with me.

‘Come on Al, don’t let the f***** side down,’ he growled at me, nailing one of Pards’ cups, forcing a buxom blonde to down a whiskey. She retaliated instantly, forcing me to take another sip. I was starting to feel really sick now. Desperately fighting the urge to vomit all over the table, I attempted to line up a winning shot. We only had to get four cups from Pardew. No, three? No, five? The number of cups kept changing. I tried to deepen my level of concentration, my desire to win over the gang growing. Behind Pards’ entourage, Paul appeared to be in an argument of some kind with one of the girls. He would definitely look over when I sunk this shot.

I pulled back my arm, the muscles in my forearm taut and ready to release the ball. Closing my eyes and letting out a long breath, I was ready. My eyes opened and I took the shot. Time froze. The ping pong ball soared through the air, forming a beautiful arc like the structure over Wembley itself. This is it. This was my moment. The Icarus Club will respect me. All managers will. Time to take the crown and become… A Top Ledge!

Needless to say, this couldn’t have gone worse. The ping-pong ball landed at Paul’s feet, just as the girl he was arguing with pushed him. Tripping over the ball, Jewell dropped like a felled tree, right through the table we’d been playing beer pong on. Cups and whiskey went everywhere, girls were shrieking and feathers filled the air.

As I turned away from the carnage, Sherwood was upon me, shoving me to the ground and pushing my face into the carpet. It appeared he was rather unhappy with my beer pong performance. I was swinging my legs and arms, trying to fling him off me but to no avail. It felt like a gorilla was on my back and I was struggling to breathe. The world around me was getting darker. Was this it? Is this how I would go out? Suffocated by a former Blackburn central midfielder, wrongly assumed to be better than Zidane?

There was a large smashing sound above me and suddenly the crushing pain on the back of my neck was alleviated. I slowly stood up, no longer able to suppress the vomit that had built up at the back of my throat. After expelling it, I looked up to see Pards holding a now broken whiskey bottle and looking down at the unconscious Sherwood.

Wiping vomit from my face, I reached out to shake Alan’s hand.

‘Normally I have to clean up your mess,’ I said.

‘Please, don’t make me touch your vomit,’ he groaned.

Pardew turned, wrapped his arms around the women that hadn’t fled, and left. Jewell was nowhere to be seen, along with his camera. There was just me and Tim, who was still spread-eagled on the floor, blood pouring from his head. There was a roar from the crowd as Marcus Rashford scored what proved to be England’s winner. They had overcome a difficult test to show they were worthy of such adulation. We are so much alike tonight, me and the national team, almost… destined for each other.