Walking through the club room door, Trevor Rowe - the vicar of St Jude's Church and Angels F.C.'s coach - gave a satisfied nod. The players had obviously taken his advice.
Don't think about football all the time, he'd told them after the last training session. Come along to Youth Club on Friday evening and forget about the game for a while.
And come along they had. Club Night was in full swing with, as far as Trev could see, the whole of the squad enjoying a relaxing break from football.
Or were they?
What was the exciting and noisy game that Kirsten Browne, Mick Ryall, Lennie Gould and Lulu Squibb were playing in one corner of the club room? Trev looked more closely and saw that they were playing - bar football!
Beyond them Ricky King, Jonjo Rix, Lionel Murgatroyd and Bazza Watts were bent over the pool table. At least they've taken his advice, thought Trev - until he saw that they were only using the smooth baize surface as an ideal pitch for the club's table football set!
With a sigh, Trev wandered over to where Daisy Higgins, Ricky King, Jeremy Emery and Colly Flower were playing cards. Surely they were taking time away from football? But, as he got closer, the Angels coach heard Daisy say: "You mean to say not one of you knows who won the F.A. Cup in 1963? West Ham United, of course." They were using football quiz cards!
Didn't any of his squad ever take a break from football? Twelve of them clearly didn't. Tarlock Bhambra was his only hope. Ah! thought Trev as he spotted the Angels defender sitting in an armchair, quietly reading. He strolled across to him.
'Hello, Tarlock. What are you reading?'
Tarlock looked up. 'Hi, Trev. It's a classic.'
Trev beamed. 'A classic, eh? Good lad. What is it? Treasure Island? Oliver Twist?'
'Not likely,' said Tarlock. He lifted the cover for Trev to see. 'The Illustrated History of Manchester United,' said Tarlock. 'You want to read it, Trev. It's a real classic!'
Knowing when he was beaten, Trev laughed. Football fanatics, that's what they were! Still, at least it meant that his next job should be easy.
'Okay, listen everybody! he called out.'
Around the room the bar footballers stopped clunking, the table soccer players stopped flicking and the football quizzers stopped quizzing. Tarlock even put his book down.
Until, that is, Trev added, 'I'm looking for a volunteer to do a job ...'
EXCERPT (from Goal Greedy)
Featuring: Dazzling Dribbling, Frightful Fouls, Goal Greedy
Illustrations (c) Nick Abadzis, 1997-2000
(c) Michael Coleman 2020