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Attila the Stockbroker: Playing football at 64 – my Achilles heel

WRITING this on polling day, where I am supposed to be the spearhead of the Southwick Labour Get Out The Vote team, charging all over the place knocking on doors as we aim to get Jude Harvey elected in the second seat in our ward, giving my Labour councillor wife Robina a comrade to work with instead of having to have endless battles with Tories. 
 
But instead, I am telling at the polling station. (That’s right, I’m A Teller the Stockbroker). The reason is that I can barely walk. 
 
Cherry Red Records have put out my records and books sporadically for 40 years. They are the main sponsors of AFC Wimbledon, the fan-owned club which rose from the ashes of the FA’s disgusting decision to sanction the uprooting of the old Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes. 
 
We Brighton fans have a huge affinity with Wimbledon after our own battles to save our club, so when Cherry Red CEO and Wimbledon board member Iain McNay gave me an invitation to play in a Cherry Red Records football match to celebrate the opening of the Dons’ new stadium I could hardly turn down the offer, could I?
 
Sixty-four, enthusiastic but useless at football, Achilles a bit dodgy, COPD, high blood pressure, bladder cancer survivor? No problem. I have cycled at least 50 miles a week for the past 20 years.  

And I was told there were going to be two matches — a 60-minute game for the young, fit footballers and a 20-minute one for the old punk rock casualties. I’ll be fine, I thought. 
 
But all the old punk rock casualties chickened out apart from me, it was decided that there would be one 90-minute game, and I ended up playing 45 minutes on a full size pitch against far better footballers mostly less than half my age. And I absolutely loved it, playing right back, running around happily and occasionally lunging at the ball.  

I came off feeling fine, had some lovely reunions with old friends from Cherry Red and got the train home to a relieved wife. 
 
But in the middle of the night I woke to two Achilles tendons on fire, quenched to an extent with Deep Heat. The next day I was immobile. Today I am much better, but in political terms I’m a trainspotter. Collecting numbers.
 
Hoping for more successes here after Robina’s 20 per cent swing a year ago, and rooting for Worthing, where by the time you read this Labour should have taken control of the council for the first time in history. God’s Little Waiting Room no longer! Worthing is HIP, with a fine bunch of vibrant activists ready to charge into the 21st century.

To finish, a mention for the incredibly prolific radical songwriter and all-round hero Joe Solo’s latest album, Never Let Them Win. I’ve known Joe for a fair while now and his songwriting just gets better and better: he writes northern soul on an acoustic guitar, and his perceptive, heartfelt and above all supremely intelligent words shine in every song. 
 
Joe is a true working class intellectual. This album contains his finest ever song, Goodnight England, a broadside at a proudly pig-ignorant, tabloid-brainwashed, servile, Ragged Trousered Philanthropistic-infested cohort which tries the patience of every dedicated socialist. But though he goes to sleep angry and frustrated, he wakes up optimistic and determined. Way to go. 
 
Its predecessor on the album, Who Teaches The Working Class About Socialism? outlines the problem in a culture where “too clever by half” is an insult and “the school of hard knocks and university of life” a proud boast — one I grew up with myself thanks to my grandmother. 
 
I Know Who My Friends Are is a wonderful dedication to those who stood by him after a ludicrous, insulting episode last year and We Were Young is 
a hymn to a punk rock youth where “my favourite teachers were Joe Strummer and Jake Burns.” 

Great fiddle from Rebekah Findlay and a red star choir. Another great album from Joe and as always, the proceeds go to a good cause. Available from https://joesolomusic.bandcamp.com/
 
Keep safe folks.

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