Contrary to Colonel Gilgore’s opinion in Apocalypse Now, Charlie does surf.
Well this particular Charlie, who was called Charles, does anyway.
Cultural ironies abound as we watch Jamaican 100m and 200m Olympic champion Usain Bolt ignite off down the asphalt like a mudda fucka en route to breaking a new world record. For decades Jamaica’s reggae musicians were taking performance enhancing drugs – to deliberately slow them down. And then Bolt comes along and tears off down the track in the time in takes your average reggae drummer lay down a few rim shots on a one drop. If he were still alive today what would poor old Bob – sitting in his government yard in Trenchtown, waving goodbye to his Merchant ships – make of Usain’s sprinting and Charlie’s surfing? No doubt he’d be humming a few bars of REMs, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”
Meantime, you just knew that Hibernia was going to hell in a handcart when the news broke that the League of Ireland First Division was being targeted by a Far Eastern betting syndicate. You just knew who broke the story also, But you could see Charlie’s point. The big leagues were being watched for “betting irregularities”, amid claims that hundreds of millions of spondoolicks were being wagered with on-line syndicates on the big European and South American games. But who’d be watching the smaller leagues throughout Europe?
And lets face it, gamblers don’t give a rat’s ass whether they’re placing a few grand on Man United to beat Barcelona or placing a few grand on one League of Ireland First Division side to beat another – a bet is a bet. In fact, I reckon that gamblers have no interest sport in the emotional sense, that they see sport as just a conduit to appease their affliction. If it wasn’t Red Rum or Man United, it would be odds on the colour of the next car that comes around the corner, or which fly leaves the wall first.
An acquaintance of mine used to work as a “match commentator” for the syndicate. He got a handsome fee to stay on the phone for 90 minutes – they paid for the call – to some Asian basket case giving him the low down on what was happening in any given Irish First Division game. It wasn’t match commentating. Just letting Charlie know who was attacking at any particular time (home team attack, away team attack), when a goal was scored, if someone was red-carded, when the game ended, and the final score. The deal, as explained by a contact in Dublin, was to give updates on the game every two minutes.
But as my buddy was commentating on a particular match one night he blew a fuse at Charlie, who, as usual, was looking for updates every ten seconds. In this particular game the home team were up 5-1, and with less than a minute to go Charlie was being an irritating prat.
“Who on top now?” asked Charlie.
“What’s the score, the score I told you less than 30 seconds ago? ”
You say 5-1 to home team, they score goal, play well, yes?
“Did you notice me saying anyone scored in the last few seconds?”
“Do you surf?”
“Yes, surf on big waves.”
“You don’t surf.”
“No way, you couldn’t surf the net.”
“There’s no fucking way that you surf,”
“Did you see, Apocalypse Now?”
“Yeah yeah, Apoclispe Now, “Hell woh, we don’t know”, Vietnam yeah.”
“It was “Hell no, we won’t go.”
“So who on top now?”
“Who do you think is on top?”
“I think home team on top. Hah, but you tell me, we pay top dollar at your bank.”
“Listen, the home team are 5-1 up. There’s less than 30 seconds to go. Who do you think is on top? What do you think is happening here? Do you think the opposition deliberately conceded five fucking goals to lull the home side into a false sense of security, that they’re a reverse psychology side, that they’re going to score five goals in injury time and win fucking 6-5, you bollocks?”
“You in bad tumor – what is bollocks?”
“You, you’re a bollocks, you’re a bollocks long time, would you like some flied lice with that.”
“Aaaaah, flied lice in Limilick. Hah. You Irish crazy. You no eat flied lice. You eat spud, drink black beer, sing song, start crying, wah, wah, wah. Hah.”
“Keep it up Charlie, just keep it up.”
“Hah, wah, wah, wah, black beer make Irish man crazy.”
“What do you think of the smell of napalm in the morning?”
“Hah? Who on top now, home team?”
“Yeah, there goes the full time whistle. The home team wins 5-1. That’s the final score. The final whistle. Full time. The End. Finish. Kaput. Sayonara.
“Ahhhhhh, is there time injury?
“Which part of The Game Is Over) don’t you understand?”
“Hah. Tell again.”
End of call. The acquaintance got a call back the next day from the contact in Dublin telling him that Charlie was a bit upset. Heartbreaking news. So for the next match there was another Charlie, one who could actually speak English, and he revealed that they were based in Berlin – and not somewhere beyond the 38th parallel, surfing and irritating people.
“And what are you doing with this information,” he was asked.
“We key it in and send it to China,” he replied.
“And what do they do with it.”
“They bet on it.”
So there you have it. The Irish First Division was the target of a Far Eastern betting syndicate. Meantime, the contact in Dublin gets wind that the match commentator is a journalist. And he’s on the line warning him that he’ll lose his “job” if any of this appears in the papers. He’s assured that no such thing will ever happen. The next day it’s plastered all over the back page of a national newspaper – he could resist anything but temptation. “Irish football is target of Far Eastern betting Syndicate.” Ah, the lure of the byline and the headline. And no more surfing Charlie’s at Irish First Division games – long time. (I think…..).
*The identity of the two teams involved have been withheld. “Match Commentators” did attend some Irish Premier Division and First Division games in the last few seasons. It is not known whether the practice continues. There is nothing illegal about betting on soccer games.*