How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 39

As usual, Archie picked Drew and Deepak up from their hotel early the next morning. Deepak had asked loads of questions of his grandad during the previous evening; about Scottish life, customs, television (which he had rarely seen in his life) and how people put up with the weather. He longed to see the mountains up north, the sandy beaches of the Hebrides and the big buildings in Glasgow as he called them.

Drew was pleased to answer all his questions, although some of his answers were tinged with cynicism, like most Scots. He told him to make the most of it and get to see as many of these places as possible while he was living there.

Archie’s car drew up to the parking area at the training ground once more and they followed Deepak into the manager’s office. The girl from HR was there again and greeted them with a smile and an offer of tea and biscuits.

‘Right, let’s get down to business.’ Fraser announced as they all sat down around a small table. ‘I understand that Deepak would like to sign for Hearts, and we are delighted to welcome him to the club. If there are any questions, now would be the best time to ask them, otherwise let’s get this signed.’ He continued as he pushed the contract across the table to Deepak and Drew.

Karen from HR was taken aback that Deepak couldn’t actually sign his name properly and instead, just spelt it out in letters as his grandad had taught him. Drew then countersigned it as Deepak’s legal guardian and passed it back to Fraser.

‘Excellent! Deepak, welcome to Hearts. We’re going to do everything possible to make sure your time here is happy. I’d like you to accompany Karen to her office where you need to go through a few bits of admin while you are here. As I understand it, you will need to go back to India with your grandad and apply for a visa in New Delhi before you can come back and play for us. Good luck, son!’ Fraser smiled as Karen led him off to her office with a copy of the contract and loads of assorted paperwork tucked under her arm.

‘Well, we should go off and celebrate somewhere, but it’s a bit early. I suppose you’ve all had breakfast.’ Fraser asked.

‘Aye, well we have anyway.’ Drew replied.

‘Celebratory coffee and doughnuts it is then! Follow me.’ Fraser laughed as he led them to the staff canteen.

Drew was keeping remarkably quiet during the ensuing conversation about his grandson’s bright future and it was Archie who noticed it most.

‘You’re not saying much Drew. Are you worried about Deepak?’ Archie asked.

There was a brief silence before Drew replied.

‘Aye, a bit of that. I’m not so much worried about him though, I know he’ll be well looked after. If I’m honest, I keep thinking about that family up in Aberdeen that I’ve never seen. Being so near and all that, I’d love to see them, even if I don’t get to meet them. Does that sound daft?’ Drew asked.

‘Not at all. I’m surprised you didn’t mention it earlier. As a matter of fact, I’ve been in contact with your ex-girlfriend and although she wasn’t happy at first and wanted nothing to do with you, I explained to her what happened and softened her up. I spoke to your son as well. He wouldn’t object to meeting you either.’ Archie told him.

A tear crept from Drew’s eye as he thought about the prospect of meeting his family for the first time. He had a son, two granddaughters and a grandson to add to his family. He also had some apologising to do, although it sounded like Archie had laid the foundations for that.

‘Really Archie? They are up for a meeting? When and where?’ Drew smiled.

‘I’ll give her a call. We thought about meeting in Dundee tonight as it was kind of half way. The Hilton to be precise. At six o’clock. In the bar. Is that okay with you?’ Archie laughed.

‘I’ll say! Wow, this is going to be awkward. Is everyone coming?’

‘Sounds like it. Your son is bringing his kids with him, but I don’t think your girlfriend’s new husband is coming which is understandable I suppose. I told them about Deepak and they are looking forward to meeting him. I told them he is a better footballer than his grandad already.’

The rest of the day dragged on as Deepak got his paperwork sorted out, met Mrs Colquhoun and played in another kick about with the Under 17s. Drew and Archie had stepped outside so Archie could make that call. Fifteen minutes later, it was all arranged. Drew could meet his other family later that day and he couldn’t be more excited.

Traffic going over the Forth Road Bridge was already heavy even though it wasn’t even four o’clock yet. Deepak marvelled at the architecture of the three bridges that spanned the Forth Estuary at that point. They carried on through Fife and the green hills of Kinross, pointing out various points of interest along the way like Duloch Park, where Bradley was from, Dunfermline the ancient capital of Scotland, Loch Leven where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned and the silvery River Tay as they drove past Perth. Deepak was fascinated with the scenery as it was so different to what he was used to. He continued asking questions right up until they entered Dundee after passing the train bridge and pulling into the Hilton’s car park, just about on time.

Drew had butterflies in his stomach. Big ones. He hadn’t seen his old girlfriend in over thirty years. Had she changed much? Was she still as pretty as he remembered? The three of them walked into the bar in the lobby and Drew spotted her straight away. She was still as pretty and had kept her shape well. He tentatively walked up to her and asked her if she was who he thought she was. With a thirty-five year old man and three young kids in an otherwise empty bar, she told him she couldn’t be anyone else and called him a daftie.

They hugged politely; she still hadn’t forgiven him obviously, but she didn’t want any animosity. She then introduced Drew to his son Robert, and his three children called Amy, Emily and James who weren’t old enough to realise that this was a new grandad for them. Drew then introduced Deepak to everyone with tears in his eyes once more.

Archie went to the bar to order drinks while they all got acquainted. He noticed that Drew and Robert were getting on well, it was like he had never left. The kids were still a bit reluctant, understandable of course, but he reckoned they would come round, and Deepak seemed to have struck up a bond with them anyway. They talked and talked for hours, Drew apologising every few minutes and Robert feeling sorry for him once he heard his story.

Archie just sat at the bar and beamed. That was his good deed done for the day, he thought as he surveyed the happy family gathering. When it got to ten o’clock, he thought about winding up the party and getting Drew and Deepak back to Edinburgh before it was too late. He looked at the lot of them laughing and talking and came up with another plan.

‘Guys, I hate to break up this happy party, and I know you’ve still got catching up to do, so I thought rather than us head back to Edinburgh and you lot going the other direction, I’ve booked rooms here for the lot of you. I’m going to head back and square it with the club and the hotel so you two don’t have to be back until whenever tomorrow. Just take the train back and I’ll pick you up at the station when you are ready.’

Everybody was delighted and grateful to Archie for this wonderful surprise and there were kisses and handshakes all round as Archie bade goodnight to them all and walked to his car. Good job he’d stayed on the tonic waters, he thought with a big smile on his face.

That was his good deed for the day sorted.

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