Before I begin this second, extended memoir of the Aylesbury Asians saga, I must give an apology. All that is written here is but fragments from my flawed memory and perception, so I ask those whom I have missed out to forgive me, and to those who disagree with my version of things, you are more than entitled to pull me up. May Allah give us the wisdom to say what is beneficial and leave out the nonsense! Ameen! My intention in sharing these stories is to shine a light on the past, with the hope that it brings cheer and nostalgia, which enriches our present moments and futures. I would also like to thank all the people I have mentioned in these accounts for making our collective lives richer, funnier and greater, both then and now. Alhamdulillah, in Aylesbury, us Paks have grown up together, inhaled the same air, walked the same streets and chilled in the same parks. Long may it continue! Ameen!
Anyway, there will be a variety of things I weave into the mix this time. Yes, of course, there is the football, our first training sessions, our historic sponsorship, our legendary matches, involvement in taxi wars and our predictable demise at the hands of Mr Ramswell. But there are other places and characters which will appear along the way, like the local Asian gangland hideouts, the Crown café and the New street café; our Black, Italian and White brothers at Alfred Rose Park and fights after mosque on Cock lane!
So, there we were, us Aylesbury Asians, ready to embark on our first training session. Now, remember, our footie culture was Havelock and Fleet street royal rumble matches, barefooted, bare-knuckled, bare ponging carnivals of British Pakistani football. So Ahmar and Froggers, our managers… let’s just say they didn’t have it easy. We didn’t exactly cooperate when they told us to wear bibs, warm up and go through passing drills. We said, “F that! Let’s just start a match!” Poor Ahmar and Froggers. They had dreams of running a successful and civilised team. Instead they were lumbered with a bunch of bandits and pandos (village idiots)! And another reason we rebelled against proper training routines is that we had reputations to uphold. Alfred Rose Park was our stomping ground, our turf. People had seen us play for years. Now we’d get shamed up, wearing bibs and poncing about on the pitch. Our mates and other players could watch us and start taking the mick!
And there were a host of excellent players and dreamers who used to grace the Alfred Rose park with their skills, aside from the Havelock, Fleet and New street lot. I remember some of our Black brothers like Del. What a player! Quick feet, silky skills and pace like Speedy Gonzalez! There was Kevin Louis; the tall, rangy smooth player, with one hell of a stinging shot. Emerson Boyce… He was younger than most of us, but he was a player from the beginning. Strength, powerful heading and calculated shots. Him and brother Boom and his brother, Aleem, and Nav’s bro, Shady, used to play every day in the park, after school and weekends. They would always be there with that legend Dominic, Dom, a tall, Stallone lookalike with a thunderous shot. And Emerson Boyce truly went on to greater things… Then there were our Italian and Sicilian brothers who used to come now and then, Tony and Memo! They used to play with the spirits of Paulo Rossi and Maldini in their strides. There was Peter Schalier (not sure about the spelling- apologies), a wicked goalkeeper, Vince and Franko from Havelock street- Franco was a gifted player, while Vince could have made it as a commentator, with his critique of the players and his attention to the details. There was brother Faisal, from Lahore, and he had already impressed us with his amazing goalkeeping skills. Best Pak goalkeeper I had ever seen.
Then there were some of the Queen’s Park crew who used to turn up to Alfred Rose, like Aziz, one of my brother’s friends. I remember the first time I saw Aziz in Market Square, up town. He looked proper cool! He was wearing black, baggy jogging bottoms, with matching black Nike hoody and a wicked pair of Adidas. I dreamed of donning clothes like that! There were Shamraiz and Zar, strong players, who used to come over to our sides sometimes. There were our brothers John Jarvis and Mark Derby, my brother’s friends again. Jarvis was tall, suave, cool and always wore a baseball hat! He used to move around like some cool cat from the seventies. And Derby was a happy-go-lucky, always smiling, funny character, with some moves on the football pitch and on the dance floor! Then there was Mohammad Dadarmi, our Moroccan mentor and advisor, especially in the arena of love and pullin …. Love of football and pull-ups, I mean. His mate, Victor, Vic, our very own Portuguese cool dude, who was the most chilled out character you could ever come across. There were my uncles Fiaz and Ayaz, who used to come down to the park. Uncle Fiaz was, is and always will be a complete legend, but who can forget uncle Ayaz in those days? With his cool hair styles, beginning with short back and sides and wickedly gelled hair, morphing into a healthy bush of strong, curly locks, which used to get a lot of attention… Football wasn’t really his game though, but at tennis, he was a Pak Goran Ivanisevic, with a thundering serve! Sometimes brother Miggie would come along and join us, an Italian brother who had converted to Islam. There were many others. A character called Wayne Jones, piercing eyes, smooth face, had skills on the pitch. He also had a habit of disappearing if a copper turned up on the scene. And of course, who can forget the Shah brothers, Larly, Zedo and Johnny. These lads had been blessed with Johnny Depp good looks and overall cool status, and they used to enjoy playing footie with us as well. Last but not least, there were the wonderful brothers, Izzie, (Islam) and Kaz, (Qasim) who would come from time to time and get stuck into a game. Izzie is now one of our great regular players in five-a-side and is a strong player too!
So, you can see that Alfred Rose was like a goldfish bowl; everyone used to pass through, watch what was going on and then be on their way. And Ahmar and Froggers wanted to make us run up and down the pitches doing star jumps. The whole community would turn up and call us gandoos (clowns)!
Anyways, eventually, we got into a routine and got over the embarrassment and starting training properly. And that’s when the matches started happening… Let’s just say it was a steep learning curve…
But before we commenced our matches, an exciting moment occurred. Our sponsorship! Somehow, Froggers and Ahmar convinced a local factory, Versatile Fittings, to pay for our kit and sponsor us for a whole year. What legends! Little did they know that for the whole season, we were going to drag their good name through post-match scraps, thefts and riots. Never mind. It was beautiful though. Beautiful! I remember the beaming smile of the middle-aged director. Many Pakistani men worked hard in that factory, so he thought the decent thing to do for the community was to sponsor their sons for a football team. Our shirts were rich green, striped, with black shorts, Versatile Fittings on the front. I must say, I felt a shiver after putting on the kit for the first time. And there we were, standing before the Bucks Advertiser photographer, who put the news into the paper. I think Froggers or Ahmar may still have that photo somewhere…
So, we got our sponsors and our kit. That’s when the fun began!
Our season was a complete and utter mess of thumping defeats and exhilarating victories! Sometimes, we would turn up playing these all-white, village teams, and they would look at us, especially the adults, as if we were walking into a saloon bar in a spaghetti Western. Grim stares. Holding on to their wallets! Well, you couldn’t blame ‘em. Imagine watching eleven Asian lads turning up to a match, some with moustaches and some already fathers doing a night shift on the taxi rank! Then Froggers, Ahmar and Shamar would turn up behind us. These English people probably thought we were gonna take over their village! But then we would start playing, hitting the ball around and suddenly their looks would change, and they thought we could play a bit of football, and there weren’t thousands of us hiding in the mini-bus ready to let loose in the shire!
I must admit there were a few scraps at matches. And on that subject, us Paks were well-accustomed to scrapping. You may be wondering where we all developed our scrapping abilities: boxing? Kung fu? Gang fights in the park? No, at mosque. We shall call them the Cock Lane Scraps after mosque. Basically, we went to a crazy place for a mosque. A big, Victorian house on Buckingham road. It wasn’t the house that was particularly crazy, it was one of the teachers, Penguin, he was fondly known as, because he walked around like a penguin. Gestapo more like! He used to carry a big, long, menacing stick that wasn’t there just for show. He pounded us with it. He kicked ass, literally! Once I remember when he basically pulverised my older brother for talking during sabak with my uncle Ayaz. He whipped Wasim many times on the back. Ouch! This teacher made Terminator look like Mr Tumble. Many of us remember when Narveed, may Allah have mercy on his soul, had enough of the beatings, caught the stick off Penguin, snapped it in two and legged it before Penguin went schizo! So, because we had such a violent, psychotic teacher, the older boys used to organise a scrap in Cock Lane after every mosque session. When Penguin went upstairs, the older boys would start pairing up the lads for fights. They made me fight one of my eventual childhood mates, Bogs. We didn’t know how to scrap; we just started pawing each other like some alley cats. It was like Fight Night, those times after the mosque. The boys would gather around and watch the fight. If two boys refused to fight, the elders would grab them both and knock their heads together!
Penguin certainly did a poor job teaching us Quran and he was probably the cause for many switching off from the faith. I know it is offensive to speak ill of the dead, as this imam has probably passed away. I guess the lesson we can all learn from him is the way not to teach Quran. Instead of battering and smacking and beating someone for making a mistake, encouragement and excellence are a better way. Call to the path with wisdom and mercy, as is taught in the Quran. Show people the profound beauty and sublime artistry. Make them love it; not see it as a chore. However, despite such brutality, many of us were drawn back into the sea of the Quran, and what we found there was not violence and pain, instead we found a sea of meaning and endless bliss…
So, unfortunately for the other teams, we were like programmed to get into scraps. For example, when attending these away games, in these picturesque, white, conservative villages around Bucks, we would enter on to some pristine pitches and encounter fresh white folk. White folks who hadn’t encountered Paks before! Sometimes, one of our players, no names mentioned, would spot a girl who’d come to watch the home side, and would shout out: “Alright darling!” That didn’t go down too well I must say. Even though some of the girls would look at us and start laughing rather coyly. Go on brothers! But their boyfriends would inevitably try and style it out on the pitch and a scrap would develop afterwards.
Scraps were on the cards at home-games in Alfred Rose, especially when we were losing. And these scraps were typically not against the players. It was against their dads and managers! Some of the older Pak lads used to turn up and watch us play at Alfred Rose, nodding and cheering when we played well and made progress. But when we were losing, they would shout out a code word in Punjabi: “Marss!” (Beat em up!) Yes, I know, it was immoral, it was unacceptable, it was unsportsmanlike, but boy did it entertain the masses! Someone would scream: “marss!” and then various players would start fouling the hell out of the other side. I remember occasions when civilised managers and fathers confronted these older Pak boys for their troublemaking behaviour. These lads would promptly reply by squaring up to them, and then I remember flying kicks and matches being abandoned. It was wrong; it was disappointing, but we were inexperienced in the etiquettes and niceties of English football.
There were other occasions where our true colours came through. Thievery! Some people, don’t worry I won’t name them, used to come with us to away matches, with the sole intention of getting into the home team’s changing room, and robbing their pockets! I’m not kiddin!
The most memorable example of this is when we first came across the infamous team managed by Mr Ramswell. I will not use the brother’s real name because that would be wrong (and libellous!) but I’m sure some of the old guys know who I’m talking about… Ramswell was a manager of one of these posh, white teams from a village outside Aylesbury. We turned up to his ground on a cloudy and overcast day and the locals and team really stuck their noses up at us. Look at these Pakis who have turned up! We were disappointed by Mr Ramswell. He was a stern-looking, middle aged Black man, in a professional looking tracksuit. We thought he might be a bit ‘roots and culture’ and might give us some respect. Not a chance! Like our brother, Sajid Javid, he was on a mission to prove that he was the purest gora in the empire! He gave us proper dirty looks, and his mixed-race looking son, their centre forward, also glared at us askance, like we were a bunch of cavemen invading their middle class heaven. To make matters worse, they thrashed us to pieces. It was a stupid score like seventeen nil or something. We just couldn’t play in this despicable weather.
The only consolation was what happened after the match. One of our local criminals decided to hitch a ride with us to see what he could muster from the away side. So, this brother managed to sneak into the home team changing room and rinse as much as he could.
The match finished; the scraps subsided; Ramswell thoroughly hated us even more but he had this arrogant smile on his face because his team had basically thrashed us, and his son had scored countless goals against us. They were proper bar stewards! Anyway, we were getting changed, all angry and depressed, when suddenly Ramswell appeared in our changing room, followed by the ref. He was fuming! Ahmar and Froggers looked at him, thinking, what the hell is wrong with you? You just mashed us, what more do you want? Well, first, Ramswell scanned the room and looked at our faces very suspiciously. Then he stopped when he saw Zardie’s face. “Oi! How old are you?” Just to let you know, this was an under 14s team. Azad, Zardie, at this stage in his development, had a thick moustache like Mithun (Bollywood star) and more stubble than Sylvester Stallone in Cobra. So, Ramswell asked, coldly: “I said how old are you?”
Zardie, looked at him, defensively: “Eleven…” He replied. Oh shit, we thought, he should have gone for thirteen….
Ramswell looked at the ref and then back at Zardie: “We’ve got an eleven-year-old with a moustache here!”
Ouch. Ramswell was properly cussing us! He’d cussed us on the pitch and now he was cussing us while we were getting changed. Even Penguin knew when to stop…. Actually, no, Penguin didn’t know when to stop!
Then Ramswell started huffing and puffing and looking really miffed. What now?
“My son has had his Gameboy stolen. I want it back. Now!”
Right, that was it; he’d beaten us, taken the mick out of Zardie for being more of a man than he was and now he was trying to call us thieves. What a bar steward! Froggers started protesting; Zaycha looked disgusted; Buzzy Bear was thinking of jumping him, when suddenly, a Gameboy slid across the floor somewhere from our side and stopped by Ramswell’s feet.
“Thank you,” he said, sticking his nose up again, checking the Gameboy was working and then left us.
Now after that palaver, some of the lads had some very unkind words to say of Ramswell. I don’t blame them. I don’t think he would warm to us any time soon. But there were some racist words said about him from our side and I must say this didn’t sit well with the rest of us. Us Paks can be just as racist as White people towards Black people, and I am ashamed to say, we let his ill treatment make us fall into racist thoughts. After that time, many of us saw how racial differences were a matter of enrichment and not division or superiority. Black, White, Asian, Italian, Mixed Race. These were the natural colours that were created so that we may know each other, as is said in the Quran. Each race has its beauty. In fact, one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen is a black man, with the darkest skin, shining with the supernatural, pre-eternal light of Allah. I was once in a gathering, and I saw this man, completely intoxicated with the infinite presence of God. His skin was extremely dark and his soul was shining magnificently. It was like looking at a clear night sky with the full moon. I could not stop looking at him, such was the beauty. Simultaneously, I have also seen a white American man with the deepest blue eyes, also with the divine light emanating from his whole being. So beautiful, so wondrous! These experiences showed me that skin colour is part of the richness of the divine kaleidoscope and not a matter of conflict. When human beings are working at their selfish, default state, then race and tribalism come to the fore, but when people transcend the sensory and move to the meanings, they see the manifestations of Allah. We were unaware of these subtleties whilst playing for Aylesbury Asians. We were lucky to have such a diverse group of lads to play with in Alfred Rose.
So, from that day, we thoroughly hated Ramswell, and we couldn’t wait for him to turn up at Alfred Rose. We vowed to give him one hell of beating. Zardie was especially up for it.
There were many crazy days playing for Aylesbury Asians. One bonkers day was when Ahmar and Froggers in their wisdom lined us up for three matches in one day! What plonkers! And they chose to tell us on the actual day itself.
So, we turned up at about 9am at the Walton Court pitches where we played Mandeville. They made mincemeat out of us. They had some wicked players and they passed us out of the game. But one of their players happened to be a Pak. Brother Ijaz, from Lahore. He was a quality player! So, when we found out we had another match to go to, Edlesborough I think it was, Froggers persuaded Ijaz to be one of our players and come to the match. It worked! We took Ijaz along and we had a scintillating match with Edlesborough, but, unfortunately, we lost three-two. It was a very close match- went right up to the wire.
Our final match that day was with Haddenham, and it was the funniest match I have ever been to or seen!
We turned up to the match like we were all drunk. We were shattered! Ahmar had this big smile on his face and we thought, what the hell, let’s play! So, we started the game, and this Haddenham lot thought we meant business. I scored the first goal and they thought they were in for a match. After that first goal, we just fell apart… laughing! Basically, Coldie, our esteemed goalkeeper, decided to take the ball from the goalie line, and take on five players all the way up to the halfway line. Then he was confronted with a fat player from the other side, Coldie took aim and blasted the ball at the fat boy’s belly. The ball ricocheted around the pitch and we all fell over in hysterical laughter! Even the Haddenham players laughed. Then they started scoring and we just basically gave up. At the end, we told them that we had already played two matches and they grinned and took it all in good humour.
Then there were the taxi rides on the way back. What a laugh! Imagine all of us Paks, packed into a white taxi van! What are the possibilities! Well, we used to have the greatest laugh in the world. When we drove by any random person, our game was to shout out “Oi, oi, oi!” When we got a wave back or a middle finger, we would burst out with riotous laughter like Vikings.
But then there was a time where something rather political took place. We were in a white Toyota Hiace. I won’t say who the taxi company was, but the Pak driver said: “We are driving past the taxi bay, past the Five Twos taxis. When we go by, I want all of you to shout. FIVE TWOS ARE SHIT!”
And that’s what we did. I’m not kidding. We did a drive by, past the taxi bay that used to be in Kingsbury Square, the driver said: “NOW!” and we all started screaming:
“FIVE TWOS ARE SHIT! FIVE TWOS ARE SHIT!”
Five twos are shit!
To be honest, I don’t know, to this day, whether any of the Five-Twos drivers took any notice of us, but this driver took the whole idea of competition to a new level. For him, he had inflicted an act of war on Five-Twos. In fact, he outdid everyone with his organised cussing of Five-Twos taxis. I have never since heard of one taxi company cussing another one with a van full of kids. Only Paks can come up with things like this! And by the way, Five-Twos are certainly not shit- they’re a good set of brothers, running a tight ship. (So, sort me out with some free rides soon brothers!)
Another tradition for some of us, after a game or training session was to chill out at our local hideouts. Either the Crown café or the New street café. Now these were unforgettable dens of Pakistani jips, uncles, pool, arcades, exciters, Bollywood flashers and general desperados! A typical scene in both cafes was the older uncles passionately playing pool. Now that was something to watch. In the New Street Café, the uncles would play whilst giving running commentary in Pahari Punjabi. “Oi sexy shot gee, sexy shot!” This was one of their favourite expressions. One thing they would do is play a slow shot and then shout at the ball as it made its way into the hole: “ittei jow, soniya!” Sometimes we thought they were taking the sexiness of the shots too far. I told you there were plenty of exciters there!
There were other characters who we’d come across. There were the brothers Qaizer, Nasser and Yassar. Masha Allah beefy brothers! Qaizer had a deadly knockout punch, Nasser’s hands were bigger than my face and Yassar’s favourite line was the Pahari word: “TOKSAR!” Whenever I see him now, on the road, on the street, he always yells it out: “TOKSAR!” And we have a big laugh. There was Mohsin, their mate from Walton Court. These were the Walton Court lads. Becharei, there wasn’t a café down Walton Court sides, so they had to come all the way to our sides to get some action.(Although there was the Edinburgh Playing fields…. Now there was too much action going down there- let those guys tell you about that!) So Mohsin, he was a larger-than-life, funny guy, who would practise wrestling moves on us that he’d seen from Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan and he did a brilliant impression of Inspector Taggart from the ITV drama: “There’s been a murder!” (He used to do it in a Scottish accent- complete joker he was!). There were Naz and Frak- two cool characters, who used to lead the way in cool looks, cool cars and chilling. That and beating you up if you got out of line! Also Narveed, who passed away recently, Allah bless his soul. He was tall, cool, well-respected and a no nonsense kind of guy. But he liked to throw in a few cheeky comments in Punjabi at the right moment. Then who can forget Mat-Whalley! The local, lovable rogue character who was full of weird and wonderful schemes and ideas. There was Feros, the wise man, Larly’s older brother, who would give us some free wisdom and Wing-Chun lessons in the café. There were also plenty of brothers who used to walk around with white shirts, revealing hairy chests, gold chains and sunglasses- the jips. These lads idolised Bollywood stars like Mithun and their punchline was (in an Asian accent): “Do you know vot I mean?” There was our mate, Shaf, with his classic leather jacket, streetwise vision and a whizz at pool. Moony and Skeech, two lads, neighbours of Larly and Zedo, who were always on the scene. Once Moony convinced me, Nav, Adil, Buzzy Bear, Shaf and Kumar that there was a place in Wendover where there were actual monkeys and lions, hiding in a secret habitat. He actually made us walk all the way down Wendover road from New street, before a big smile appeared on his face and utter misery on ours. Just joking lads. What an anti-climax! But what plonkers we were…
One of the highlights of the New street café days, round about the same time as Aylesbury Asians, was when a female copper entered the café for the first time and arrested one of the brothers. It caused a complete stir! She walked in, young and fresh-looking, a new recruit. Us brothers were used to our own rough and ready lads coming in, and if coppers ever entered the café, they usually looked mean and brutal, like Stormtroppers, so when this rather pretty copper came in, everyone kind of stopped what they were doing and went into a trance. There was a jukebox in the New street café, and one of the jips inadvertently put on a Bollywood track, “I am a disco dancer,” and probably pictured himself and this copper in a meadow with buttercups, running towards each other in open arms. She came in like slow motion; all the lads watched her, fascinated; there was complete silence. Then one of jips shouted out: “Hello baby!”
She ignored it and placed her hand on the shoulder of a brother playing Bobble Bobble and said (rather sweetly) “You’re under arrest.”
I’m not sure, but I think someone said: “The lucky bastard!” Anyway, she frogmarched him out and many gazed in their directions, fantasising over being arrested by a goree (white woman)….
For us young Paks, our attitudes, dreams, desires and desperations about girls and sex were not driven by culture or religion, which is what some hatemongers are pushing around nowadays, because of Rotherham, etc. At that time, and it is probably the same now, it was Bollywood, Hollywood and the music industry which drove our motivations. For films, it had to be Scarface and Goodfellas. Some of the brothers looked up to Pacino and De Niro, with their defiant attitudes and beautiful girls falling at their feet. For Bollywood stars like Mithun would chase after coquettish and attractive Asian females, full of promise and plenty of wardrobe changes during a song. We saw girls as a conquest, much like Tony Montana conquering the drug trade but also the fittest women in town. For music, it was gangster rap, Public enemy, NWA and all their ‘hoes’… Our fantasies were driven by popular culture and ideas.
Our own culture was strict and clear about sexual politics. No boyfriends or girlfriends. Control your desires. Focus on your education. Don’t waste your time. These were the messages we were receiving from home. At mosque, Penguin and the others could not really do much to advise us, but culturally, the message from home was clear. Don’t mess around with girls, whoever they are. So I am perplexed by people like Jack Straw and his comments about white girls being easy meat for Asian men. That is not my experience. The perverted ones were after any ‘easy meat’. Whatever they could get. Wherever they could get it from- be it their own cousin or worse, or whichever girls were hanging about. The idea of easy meat was a very clear lesson learnt from Goodfellas, Tony Montana and Dr Dre. Home was telling us to behave ourselves. To this day, I have never ever heard an Asian parent counsel their son that if they want to mess around sexually they can do it to a white girl but not an Asian girl. What a preposterous idea! If this is the case, then those people are the really backward types. Unusual, strange, off the scale. Our parents were strict. They were not equipped to deal with teenagers growing up in a Western country. They did their best.
But there is something I would love to ask the likes of Jack Straw or even Tommy Robinson. Are you so stupid to think that perverts would limit themselves to one particular race? Unfortunately, women of all races are subject to abuse by men of all races. Period. I would not be surprised if these Asian men convicted of grooming in various places had probably sexually abused their own cousins or worse somewhere in Pakistan or the UK, it’s just that things are kept under wraps. The Jips used to go after Asian girls. In fact, the Asian girls were their only chance because the White girls didn’t want to come near them! In fact, one of the brothers used to say: “You Paks are lucky to have arranged marriages. Because without it, you wouldn’t be able to score a girl!”
I think the lesson I took from this was not to use Goodfellas as a fantasy for sexual heaven. Islamically, women are your garment and you are their garment. They are a part of you and you are a part of them. Shouldn’t you respect someone who is so inextricably linked to you? Faith, Islam and spirituality teach us to respect the opposite sex and lower the gaze. Popular culture teaches servitude to one’s lusts. Perhaps Jack Straw and Tommy should watch Goodfellas and Scarface and test how many Asian lads know lines from the films? Perhaps the thousands of Tommy Robinson supporters on the internet should actually spend time with real people rather than learning from soundbites and propaganda on the internet?
What I do know though is anyone I have met who has sincerely tried to follow their faith only became more respectful towards women and more reasonable. Extremists, perverts and criminals usually conceal addictions, compulsions, disorders and delusions. Humans commit errors; faith and religion teach self-control, inner peace and courage against oppression. Us Paks need a deeper, healthier, richer understanding and practice of our faith, not less of it! Some ignoramuses now blame Islam for child grooming. What these numbskulls don’t realise is that Islam is the answer for us, the cure to these social ills, not the cause! When we sincerely and humbly learn and follow the way of the Prophets, there is an improvement to society. Child grooming is the very antithesis of Islam, which teaches us to protect innocence, control our private parts and general lead a god-fearing life. The devilish reality urges us to towards sins, lusts and things like child-grooming. Devil-worshipping encourages depraved behaviour. Worshipping the One God encourages refined behaviour. Okay, enough of the sermon!
So, to cut a long story short, us lads in the New Street and Crown café, we had a lot of growing up to do!
So, the matches were always topped off with a little taste of the cafes.
The season progressed; we won and lost many. Then we had our crunch match. Ramswell. His team were coming to our home turf and boy were we relishing it!
Ramswell had the audacity to film the match, probably thinking that he was gonna give us a good pasting on our turf.
Not a chance. Ahmar gave us a powerful talk before the match. “Lads, this is a chance to get your dignity back. Show them how its done.” And this time, Ahmar weaved some of his magical tactics and we won a hard-fought match, three-two. Ramswell was livid. He couldn’t take it. Zaychar scored some screamers, Nav was playing for us as well, and let’s just say that revenge was utterly sweet.
Now what we didn’t know was that Ramswell would have the last laugh. Seeing as he had a copy of the team sheet, unawares to us, the next day, he went to the council to find out some of the ages of our players. Oh dear…
So, during one of our last matches of the season, Ahmar gathered us around.
“I got some bad news for you lads…” And he proceeded to tell us that the Wycombe Star League had fined us for having two overaged players- Zaychar and Nav. So, for every game they played, if we won, our points were deducted and we were fined ten pounds per match.
“So lads, we are basically bottom of the league.”
We let the news sink in; we mulled over the fact that a whole season of hard work had just gone down the drain, then someone shouted out:
“At least Ramswell didn’t ask about Buzzy Bear’s age!”
The season ended; Ahmar learned some major lessons and went on to become a successful and gifted manager of youth teams- and he is still going strong. The rest of us, now in our 40s and 50s went on to become doctors, teachers, lawyers, business men, builders, plumbers, electricians, salesmen- but we still go back to the Alfred Rose for a kick around. Many of us now concentrate on five-a-side at Aylesbury College. We still love the game.
We learned many lessons from Aylesbury Asians and football in general. For Aylesbury Asians, we were essentially taught a lesson about fair play and sticking to the books- that was our downfall. That and ensuring that you don’t let thieves come with you to matches!
But from football, this is what I take- you have to treat your ego and pride like a ball- you have to give it a good hard kick and let others kick it around too. Your focus is to score a goal and win. And winning for us, scoring for us, is to reach the divine presence. We kick around our ego and pride with prayer and good cheer until we score- until we are connected with the infinite presence of the divine reality, through channel of the prophets, the last one being our Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace.
So remember “Marss!” But don’t foul the white man, the black man or the Asian man, foul your ego, boot it in the goal, feel your spirit rise, then you’ve won the match, then you will see wonders…