The tale of PFFC, the mayor and a duck

Football and politics do mix. Jez explains how, from PFFC's visit to Pordenone in June 2001


I’ve heard that Harold Wilson said England only win the World Cup when Labour are in. I remember Blair’s keepy-uppy with Keegan. I even remember Sylvester Stallone cocking a snook at the Third Reich in Escape to Victory. But I don’t think there’s ever been such a political football as PFFC’s in Pordenone. How much of a claim to being the power behind the throne can those men in red really make? Read on…


The aftermath

PFFC travelling captain and player of the year Raj Chada woke a few Mondays back to a call from a worried Gaffer.

Gaffer: Raj, where’s the trophy? I’ve got to show it to the board at two o’clock!

Raj Thompson (Liverpool and PFFC): Don’t worry Geoff, it’s in the boot of my 205.

And 1000km away, the citizens of Pordenone were thinking ‘Sergio, hmmm, perche no?’

Eerily, none of them could fathom the significance of the cartoon mallard that occupied their thoughts at this moment.


At the airport

Supping a wafer thin pivo before boarding the plane, Owen confided that he didn’t want this to be ‘another Czechoslovakian drubbing incident’. Prodigal Rob arrived (resplendent in PFFC snood) with tour linguist Richard. We weaved onto the plane and flew to Italy for the second time in the season.


At the pizzeria

Mick Walton was our host, organisational maestro and party candidate:

– Ok, let me break it down for you (he said). ’Il Fiume’ is ’The River’ (a novelty party, I thought, of Springsteen impersonators). We have 40 list members, each of whom is standing for the 40 local council seats. We support our mayoral candidate (Sergio). But Sergio is also supported by two other parties. There are also other parties, who support other mayoral candidates, each of which also have 40-candidate lists.

The mighty Philosophy brains struggled to process this information, and asked what had happened to the previous mayor? He crashed his plane into the town square.


At the first tournament

Having been superbly looked after by our hosts (some of whom were also Il Fiume candidates), we strolled to the pitch. This was no Regent’s Park. And there were supporters. Mick was wired to a moveable speaker and explained the tournament structure. It was less complicated than the politics, but only just. We were to be distributed amongst the local teams.

Two groups, six teams. Rob (Africa All Stars) and Jez (Partenopei) in the same group. Owen and Richard joined Sergio in the Il Fiume team. CSKP Pordenone. Belte (mystifyingly named after a type of iced tea) and Dynamo PN were the others. Draws for Richard and Owen, spell in goal from Mather kept them in the game. Efforts from Richard shaved the post. They needed a win to get to the final and with seconds to go were 1-0 up. Sergio brought in a new keeper, who flouted goalkeeping orthodoxy by wearing hush puppies. The other team scored twice and Sergio et al went crashing out. Neither the mayoral candidate nor the eccentric shoe wearer escaped Richard’s tongue lashing. Unlucky.

In the other group, Partenopei came second and despite Rob’s best efforts Africa All Stars were relegated. Tense moments in the 3rd place playoff, but Partenopei raise the trophy and PFFC keep it, courtesy of crucial Bray goal. Gaffer’s silverware duly collected.

Raj arrived in time for an exhibition PFFC game vs Dynamo PN. Suffice to say that we were great in the first half.


Later that day

At a party unlike Raj’s local branch meetings we scoffed free tuck with a DJ laying down a whirlwind of 70s rock. My notes are smudged but it seems that – the Gaffer arrived at the airport – the players were whisked away to a mountain log-cabin knees-up – Raj and Rob risked career ending injuries by conga-ing the night away.


The second tournament

Reunited with the Gaffer, we welcomed Hugh who bore suitable new shirts – Machiavelli. The opposition fielded a team of wildly differing levels: an ex Serie-B keeper and an 8 year old boy. They obviously didn’t know what to expect. PFFC slotted two in, courtesy of Owen and Rob. More could have been had if chances were taken.

The result escapes my memory, but Raj lifted a trophy, so it couldn’t have been bad.


Post script

Sergio elected, despite using mallard as mascot. Well done to the Gaffer and Hugh, and also Mick and our hosts. PFFC went on to secure second place at the Leyton five-a-side, an improvement on the previous year.