Eyes Down Everybody

Have you ever been in Mill Hill Working Men’s Club before a Sunday afternoon Rovers match?

Out comes the CIU card and our first stop is the bar on the left.  It’s usually busy in here from early on.  There’s an old chap who I sit next to today.  He’s reading a paper.  His gnarled fist keeps darting out to snatch his triple whisky.  It’s like he suspects someone’s going to steal it.  His paper constantly shakes as his thread-veined nose bobs up and down the racing pages.  A few of us carry newspapers, not for the racing or football.  They help to make you look like you’re not an alcoholic.

Me and my mate fancy a change of scenery and soon move into the Concert Room.  Bingo is on.  It’s like entering the forbidden zone on a Sunday dinnertime.  The room is usually chock-a-block too, numbers today are swelled by Rovers fans – most taking part in the games.  All these heads suddenly look up when you walk in.  Loads of pairs of eyes flash in your direction, then as quick as a flash, are back down again checking their cards.

Everything is very serious, you could cut the tension with a knife.  The Bingo caller is King.  But it all changes from stoic concentration to shameless hilarity when he shouts ‘Two little ducks – twenty two’.  The silence is broken by quacks and ‘ooh, oohs!’  It gets even better with ‘On its own – Kelly’s Eye’ and ‘Two fat ladies – eighty eight!’ are shouted.  But best of all is ‘Six and nine – Sixty Nine!’  Wolf whistles are blown all around the Concert Room.  This annoys one half of eighty eight.  She says the Rovers fans shouldn’t be allowed in here.  Yet she’s no objection to being barred from the Games Room.  Just to rub salt in her wound, the House is won by a Rovers fan.  He’s built like the old Brownhill Roundabout and receives slaps upon the back of his drum-tight blue and white shirt from his grinning table of Rovers fans.

Suddenly a greater tension builds up.  Half the room begins to disappear.  We have to get to Ewood for the kick-off.  Mill Hill Club’s old ladies are left in peace with their Bingo.  The Rovers fans have another game to play.  Their own full house to join.  ‘One and Seven – Gally’s Heaven.’

Blowing With The Blackburn Trades

  • 218 pages