How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

By Andrew Playle All Rights Reserved ©

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Chapter 22

Three days after the festivities, it was time for everyone to go home to Scotland, Essex and Los Angeles. Carlos, once again, proved to be invaluable as he shuttled one party after another to Malaga airport for their flights which were scheduled at different times during the day. Lucky it was only half an hour’s drive from Mijas.

The mood had been a bit tense after Brian upset Bradley by admitting to passing his address on to Kevin McNair, and frankly, Brian was happy to leave them with his tail between his legs and get back to Los Angeles as soon as possible. He wouldn’t say it had been a mistake going to Bradleys for Christmas, what with Martine being there as well, but he had managed to embarrass himself once again. He saw the accusing look on Martine’s face when his son was shouting at him, making him feel worse. She was probably counting her blessings that she didn’t have to suffer this idiot any more. Lucy was more than likely thinking the same thing.

Carlos drove him to the airport in almost complete silence. When they arrived, Carlos got his case out of the boot and shook Brian’s hand, wishing him a good flight and saying what a pleasure it was to have met him. All with a fixed smile on his face.

His flight to Madrid was on time fortunately which gave him a three hour turnaround at Barajas. More than enough time to change terminals and get a couple of drinks in the Iberia executive lounge, he thought as he checked his case in.

He found his thoughts drifting more and more towards Lucy and what he had lost. Wondering how she was doing, was she dating someone else now, would she be happy to try again? He resolved to send her a message wishing her a Happy New Year which would be more appropriate.

His plane took off and circled over the beach at Fuengirola where he could make out the town of Mijas in the background, scanning the view to see his son’s house set up on the hill. ‘Goodbye, Bradley. Not sure when I will see you again, if ever.’ He whispered to himself with a tear in his eye.

Bradley was sitting with Jessie out on the terrace with a cup of tea and some local biscuits, soaking up the last of the sun before he started training again in a couple of days. Jessie could tell he was in a mood; he had been like it all morning.

‘What’s up, darling? You’re very quiet.’

‘Nothing really. Just pissed off that dad ruined Christmas. He can’t help it, I suppose.’ Bradley replied.

‘Don’t be silly. It was a lovely time, everybody enjoyed themselves again and Carlos was an absolute star again. Don’t be too hard on him, it wasn’t as if he set out to meet McNair, was it?’

‘No, but he has this uncanny knack of getting into scrapes that have a habit of ending up in the press with my name next to them. You wouldn’t believe the amount of bad publicity I’ve had from him. At least mum isn’t causing trouble any more. I should be grateful for that.’ Bradley spat.

‘Well, I think you’re being too hard on them, especially your dad. I could tell how upset he was that he had given McNair your address. He didn’t do it on purpose.’ Jessie told him rather testily.

Bradley looked at Jessie frowning and thought it better to kill the conversation before it turned into an argument. He sipped his tea and changed the subject. Now Jessie was in a mood as well. Thanks dad.

McNair was back on his usual stool at Bar Asturias nursing a beer. He wasn’t surprised he had got the bum’s rush from Brian, it was obvious he was trying to protect Bradley for some reason that he wasn’t sure of. What was this reputation he was going on about? He hadn’t got a reputation as far as he knew. Had Bradley told him something? He knew Bradley was there, he could hear voices coming from the terrace round the back of his house. He only wanted to see an old team mate, after all.

He didn’t notice the two well-dressed men entering the bar until they were standing either side of him.

‘Senor Kevin McNair?’ The taller one asked.

McNair looked at him, then at his colleague. ‘Who’s asking?’

The two men removed their warrant cards and showed him who they were.

‘We would like to ask you a few questions, preferably back at the police station, if you don’t mind.’

‘What about? I’m just having a beer and minding my own business.’ McNair answered.

‘Please, Senor McNair, this would be much easier for everyone if we discussed it at the station.’ The tall one insisted. His English was immaculate, McNair thought. Probably spends most of his time arresting British crooks who moved there thinking they could escape the long arm of the law. Well, he hadn’t done anything illegal so he might as well comply.

He finished his beer, left €20 on the counter for the barman who had disappeared as usual, and followed them to their dark blue Seat outside.

Ten minutes later, they were in an interview room at Fuengirola police station, McNair sitting opposite to the two officers.

‘So, what’s this all about? What have I done?’ McNair enquired.

‘We have had a request from Edinburgh Fraud Squad to ask you a few questions regarding possible match fixing. Do you have anything to say?’ The tall one asked.

McNair went red. Surely they weren’t after him for the odd missed penalty at Cowdenbeath that won him £100 now and then. He wasn’t that special.

He admitted that he sometimes paid players to miss penalties or acted on inside information, but insisted it surely wasn’t that serious.

‘No, senor McNair, we are talking about something much bigger than that. Do you know a man by the name of Hugh McInally?’

‘Yes I do. Or did, rather. He’s dead apparently. I used to give him my expert view on some selected football games that I thought he could pull off a bet with. That’s all I did, honestly. I’ve got the emails to prove it.’ McNair was starting to panic.

’We know about the ‘tips’ you were giving him, but did you know his accomplices? Where he was laying the bets? Did you receive money for these tips? Tell me everything, Kevin. We can help you.’ The officer promised.

McNair sung like a bird and told them everything he did for McInally and how one of the reasons he moved to Spain was to get away from Ludo and Marek as he thought he was going to get dragged into something far heavier.

By the time the interview had finished, McNair was a sweaty wreck. Just as a closing question, he was asked about his relationship with Bradley. If enough money was offered, or there was another way, would he be able to get Bradley involved in the match-fixing? McNair told them emphatically that Bradley wouldn’t have anything to do with something like that. He was too clean and he earned far too much to be influenced by the sums of money that McInally would have offered.

Finally, he owned up about meeting Bradley’s dad and turning up at his villa the day before, stressing that it was just a social visit, nothing more. The officer said they knew about his visit as they were following him in their car.

It seemed the officers were happy with his story and told him he was free to go. They would relate their conversation to Edinburgh Fraud Squad who would no doubt want to see him at some point so they got him to promise that he wouldn’t leave town.

They did mention that the match-fixing and betting was just part of the investigation; they had reason to believe it was funding people trafficking and drugs which is why it was being treated so seriously.

McNair left the station and walked back to Bar Asturias turning over millions of thoughts in his head. He was feeling guilty for getting Bradley involved, but mostly he was now in fear of his life. If this got back to Ludo and Marek then they would come looking for him. Who knows, they probably had contacts in Fuengirola who could do the job for them.

Either way, he was screwed.

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