Awesome Attacking, Suffering Substitutes and Crafty Coaching were originally published as separate books:
"Jon-jo Ri-ix! There's only one Jon-jo Ri-ix!"
"Your mum's in good voice again, Jonjo," laughed Colly Flower as the two Angels strikers warmed up for the start of their match against Jubilee FC.
Out on the touchline, waving her Angels scarf and singing her head off, was Mrs Rix.
Jonjo groaned. "Dont mention it! Talk about embarrassing. I sometimes wish she was like our Carla."
Sitting on the ground near the warbling Mrs Rix was Jonjo's younger sister, Carla. As usual she was lost in a book about boarding schools and midnight feasts.
"What, not interested in football you mean?" said Colly.
"No," sighed Jonjo. "Miles away!"
But Mrs Rix was very much there - as everyone realised the moment the game began. For until then, just like the Angels players, Mrs Rix had been merely warming up.
"Go-go, Jon-jo! Go-go, Jon-jo!" she chanted as Jonjo brought a good save out of Jubilee's goalkeeper with a dipping long shot.
"Ere we go, Jon-jo-jo, ere we go!" she sang when her son rose to meet one of Mick Ryall's corner kicks and just scraped the bar with his header.
And a mazy dribble in which Jonjo beat three Jubilee defenders and hammered another shot narrowly wide actually sent Mrs Rix into rhyme: "Jonjo Rix! Full of tricks! Give him lots of kicks!"
It was too much. The next time the ball went out for a throw, Jonjo hurried across.
"Mum, be quiet!" he pleaded.
But he was wasting his breath. Ten minutes before half time, when Jonjo raced through on his own to drill a low shot into the corner of the net and put Angels 1-0 up, Mrs Rix went totally wild.
"Yahooooo! Goal-y! Goal-y, Gooooaaaaaal!" she screamed, leaping into the air before racing onto the pitch to plant a huge kiss on Jonjo's forehead and cry, "Thats my boy!!"
All around him Jonjo could hear the other players giggling. Finally managing to break free from his Mum, he scurried back to the centre circle. Rhoda ONeill met him with a big grin and a moistened hand.
"Let me wipe the lipstick off, Jonjo! Pink doesnt go with Angels colours!"
Jonjo blushed to the roots. Go? At that moment there was only one thing he wished would go - his Mum!
Illustrations (c) Nick Abadzis, 1997-2000
Original cover for this collection