How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 59

An early breakfast was being put together by Carlos and Martine in Bradley’s kitchen while everyone else was getting up early in readiness for the Scotland versus Cameroon game. The morning sun was already shining through the windows way before they all assembled in the dining room to tuck into the great spread in front of them.

The mood was exciting, although they had been through these big games before with the same feeling of trepidation. Martine and Jessie would only be concerned that Bradley didn’t get injured, as Archie, Deepak and Barry would discuss tactics and guess what the final score would be. General consensus was a 3-0 win for Scotland.

While they were enjoying their breakfast, they heard a knock at the door followed by the bell ringing.

‘Who could that be at this time of the morning?’ Jessie asked the other guests.

Archie had a horrible feeling he knew exactly who it was and offered to get the door.

‘Morning Archie, ready for the game?’ McNair slurred waving a bottle of cheap Cava around his head.

‘What are you doing here, Kevin? This is invitation only; for family. You haven’t been invited. Please get back in the taxi and go home before you start something. You’re steaming drunk already. See you later.’ Archie told him before trying to shut the front door before McNair got his foot in it.

McNair just looked at the closed door and swayed before looking for another way in. Archie told the others who was at the door and that he had told them to get lost, then headed outside to lock the side gates and any other entrances to prevent the unwanted visitor.

‘Come on Archie, let me in! I’ve got a bottle of wine for you’se all. I just want to watch the game with you. Come on!’ McNair shouted through the closed gates.

‘Get lost Kevin, go back to Fuengirola and watch the game. You’re not coming in here and you’re spoiling it for everyone else. I’ve called a taxi to take you back. Get in it, or I’m calling the police.’ Archie warned him.

‘That’s no way to treat a friend, Archie. I bought you all drinks the other day; it cost me a packet.’ McNair whined.

‘Actually, I had to pick up the bill as you were so out of it. Now piss off!’

McNair felt confused. Where did all his money go if Archie paid for the drinks? He would have to question that shifty barman at the Bar Asturias when he got back.

Carlos came out the front door as the taxi pulled up, just as McNair threw the bottle of cheap booze over the gate where it smashed on the terrace, telling them to stick their fancy house up their arses.

He started to stagger down the drive towards the taxi when Carlos grabbed hold of McNair by the shirt and pulled him towards the road.

‘I have some very nasty friends in Fuengirola who would love to meet you if you ever show your face here again. Do you understand what I am saying?’ Carlos spat.

McNair just stared drunkenly at Carlos and told him he wouldn’t return if they begged him and fell into the taxi as Carlos let him go. Carlos spoke to the driver, who he knew well, and told him to take McNair to the Bar Asturias.

‘If he causes any trouble, let me know.’ Carlos told the taxi driver as they pulled away.

Inside, the mood was seriously deflated. The girls were worried, especially when the bottle smashed on the terrace and were ready to call the police before Carlos stepped in. He and Deepak cleared up the mess while Archie tried to calm everyone down. This had put a damper on the day, for sure. He was going to make sure McNair never pulled a stunt like that again.

Luckily for Bradley, he was totally oblivious to the drama unfolding thousands of miles away at his villa. The team were exiting the dressing rooms on to the pitch at the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne ready to do battle on the pitch. Once again, thousands of expat Scots had crammed into the arena ready to see their heroes take another step towards the trophy.

It transpired that Cameroon weren’t as physical as they had feared, mainly due to the suspensions from the Russia game and the fact that Cameroon had dropped some of the other players on yellow cards so they would have a better chance to beat Chile and thus qualify for the first knockout round.

Some of the youngsters in the Cameroon team were highly regarded and one or two were being scouted by big European clubs like PSG and Bayern Munich. They preferred skill to brute force and this allowed Scotland to dominate the game from the off.

The game turned into another walkover with Scotland running out comfortable winners with a score of 5-0, Bradley netting twice and generally commanding the game, as was expected from their captain. In the other group game, Russia went down 2-0 to Chile who had regained their composure and given themselves a chance of qualifying if they could beat Cameroon in their final group game. As for Scotland, they were through and as long as they didn’t lose to Russia then they would be top of the group giving them a favourable draw in the next round.

Back in Mijas, the mood had slowly improved in the Gardner household after their unwanted visitor had been shown off the premises. The girls were still a little subdued so they decided to head for Marbella for the day to do some shopping. Nothing like a bit of retail therapy to take their minds off things.

As for McNair, he had fallen out of the taxi (with a little help from the driver) and into the Bar Asturias just in time for kick off. The barman looked at the scene unfolding before him with contempt as he poured a lager out and left it on the counter by McNair’s bar stool.

When he came crashing through the door looking dishevelled and angry, the barman sensed there could be a problem and reached for his trusty club under the bar which he used on unwelcome guests.

‘What happened to my money? If I didn’t pay for those drinks the other day, how come I was €50 out of pocket?’ McNair demanded.

‘I have no idea what you are talking about. How am I supposed to know what you do with your money? I just serve you drinks and listen to you moan all the time. I am not your banker.’ The Barman replied. ‘Here’s your beer, now keep quiet and watch the game.’

McNair scowled at the barman and picked up his beer, ready to enjoy the football. ‘I’m on to you, pal. You won’t pull a stunt like that again.’ He warned as the barman left him to it and ordered a bacon sandwich from the kitchen for McNair.

His mood improved when he checked his winning bet on his laptop. He had placed €25 on Scotland winning 5-0 at odds of 10/1 so he was €250 up already. By the time the final whistle blew, he had finished his beers and paid his bill. He didn’t feel like staying in the bar and to be honest, he could do with crashing out for a few hours before his evening session when he actually had a date with a local woman who he had met when he was in hospital. He would have to try to be on his best behaviour if he wanted to get his leg over.

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