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The Slave Show (25)

Over the next couple of weeks things settled down, as they have a way of doing after an initial shock.  I reckon I helped a lot, not only by letting Shane and Jason use my place for fucking, but by always reminding Dan that his position was little short of hypocritical!  After I’d fucked him and when we were lying companionably close, just enjoying the sensation of our bodies being together, and having those little half-serious, half-funny conversations you do after sex, I’d deliberately do something he liked, such as pushing my tongue in his ear and then nibbling the lobe gently.  When he stirred and moaned and moved his body closer to mine as you do when you’re aroused by something like that which you enjoy, I’m whisper “I wonder if Shane enjoys this sort of thing as much as you do, Dan?”

“It’s not the same, Steve.  He’s still a kid….”

“…and he needs to experiment, to find out what he really likes.  It’s better for him, actually – he’s confident enough to come out and tell the world that he likes other men, not like some people…..”

“Steve, let’s not go there again!  You know I love Julie, and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her…”

“…and you’re supposed to  love me, too, remember?”

“Steve, you know I like you, mate. I’d rather be in bed with you than anywhere else….”, and as usual he avoided the “L” word.  But I knew the message had got home, and although he continued to refuse to allow Shane to have Jason in his own bedroom, things went back to “normal” in the sense that Dan and Shane were talking without shouting at each other, and Jason was mostly around the place after school and at the weekend, and had meals with us, and so on. But it all blew up again when Shane produced a contract for Dan and Julie to sign, explaining that it was his “apprenticeship” to Manchelsea.

“No, son”, Dan almsot shouted.  “You are going to university….”

“Dad, you promised….  It’s what I want to do.  I’m a footballer….”

“See reason on this, will you?  I want you to have a good life….”

“…I want a good life, too!  And you’re going to deny me the one chance I’ll have….”

“After you’ve got your degree, then you can go off and play football to your heart’s content….”

“It will be too late then, Dad!  If  I start now, I’ll get the very best training, work with the best players and coaches in the country…. By the time I’ve finished uni some of my best footballing years will be over anyway….”

“Shane, I gave in over you and Jason, now at least be prepared to meet me half way…..”

“Give in?  Give in over me and Jason?  Dad, that’s got nothing to do with it.  I love Jason, and there’s nothing you could do to separate us!”

“You are not, I repeat not, going off to that football club.  You’ll stay here, go to school, then on to university….”

“You can’t make me…”

“Yes I can, actually.  You’re not allowed to enter into legal contracts on your own until you’re eighteen.  The stupid laws in this country allow you to have sex at sixteen, but fortunately they don’t allow you to sign your life away.  So no contract with a football club.”

“…and then when I’m eighteen, I’ll quit, I tell you, dad!  I’ll quit this house for good, and then I’ll never speak to you again.  Not ever.”

I was there, listening to this, and I couldn’t stand it.  “Shane!  Don’t ever say that to your father! Families are too important…”

“I might know you’d side with him…. Keep the fuck out of this, Steve….”

“Side with him?  It’s me who’s letting you and Jason use my place, remember?  And I happen to think he’s wrong about the football thing, too.  But don’t ever threaten to break apart from your family, whatever the problem.  Sometimes we say these things in anger, in the heat of the moment, and then they take on a life of their own.  ‘I said I’d never speak to him again’ turns into ‘so he wouldn’t speak to me’ followed by ‘I can’t stand being in the same room, with the silence’, and so it goes on.  What started as a little argument, that could be fixed, ends up with all sorts of unhappiness as people don’t see each other for years…”

“Don’t interfere, Steve!”.  It was Dan now.  “You always undervalue education, because you had none yourself…”

“Dan, shut up, will you?  You’re angry, and you’re just firing this crap off at everyone in sight.  I don’t undervalue education – I got a really good one, to be a soldier.  And I was fucking good at it, too. But you’re wrong here – Manchelsea have a proper apprentice’s scheme, where they really look after young lads like Shane and ‘bring them on’.  You’re stupid not to see that, and stupid not to realise that you can’t win this one:  you may be able to force Shane to stay at school another two years, but after that he’ll be off, and he won’t come back, or, if  he does, he won’t value your advice and opinion.  You need to let him go, Dan – let him go off to Manchelsea.”

“And what if he’s no good?  I know he plays for Essex and all that, but what if he can’t hack it as a professional?”

“Well then he comes and asks you for advice, and you go off and research universities and all that stuff, and persuade them to let him in as an older student, or whatever….   Under your system, whether he’s any good or not he’ll end up hating you.  Under my system, he gets to find out whether he’s any good, and he still loves and values his dad, whether he’s any good or not!  You’re a fucking moron, Dan, if you can’t see that!”

As he did when he’d lost but couldn’t admit it, Dan just stormed out of the room.  Shane stood there, beginning to calm down, and Jason was still a bit shell-shocked.  Shane then began to smile a bit. “Thanks, Steve…. It’s a done deal, I reckon.  Dad always storms off like that when he knows he’s not going to win, but doesn’t want to be seen to be losing.”

“That’s pretty sharp of you, Shane!  I thought your mom and me were the only ones to know that, as we’ve seen him do it before…”

“I do love him, Steve.  He’s my dad, after all, and you notice that sort of thing….”

“Not everyone does, Shane.  A lot of blokes quarrel with their fathers and never notice stuff like that…”    He put his arm around Jason, and went on “But Jason and me… We’re never going to be like that, are we?  We’re never going to quarrel and not notice each other’s reactions.”

“Oh, I don’t know – you’re as stubborn as your dad sometimes…..”, Jason added, and both lads laughed.

So, after a decent interval of a couple of days, Dan did of course sign the apprenticeship agreement, and then we had the usual tears from a mom seeing her eldest son leave home for the first time as Julie waved goodbye to Dan as he drove Shane off to the training headquarters for the first time.

Jason came around to our place that evening, looking like a puppy that was lost, and just sat around, having supper with Dan, Julie and me.  “It’s odd to think of Shane not here”, I said, perhaps unhelpfully.  “…I wonder what he’s having for dinner tonight.  I suppose they do pretty good food there, for all the footballers….”

“It’s a really nice place”, Dan added.  “They all have their own rooms, and there’s a TV lounge, a restaurant, a gym, a pool, all that sort of stuff.”

“It sounds better than a university!”, I cut in. “When are you off, Jason?”

“Two weeks from now….”

“Well if you’ve got nothing to do before then, you’re welcome to come around here… I can always find you a bit of work to do, keeping the slave records up to date, and that sort of thing.  And we can pay you, can’t we, Dan?  That will be a help for next term….”

Jason looked a bit more cheerful.  “Thanks, Steve… That would be nice.  I’ve kind of got used to being here….  And the money would help – since dad left things are really tight at home.  I’m getting my tuition paid for but I’m going to have to look for a job at Cambridge to stay alive…”

Jason was a nice bloke, actually.  Well, he would be, wouldn’t he, if Shane loved him?  And I gave him stuff to do that was really pretty marginal – but he set up a database for us to keep track of our slaves and the prizes and such they’d won, and from that made a website so that people could see pictures of them and read their history – he said it would add to the value of our assets, as people would get to know that we had all these prize-winning slaves:  not only in terms of the value of the slaves themselves, but in making our reputation as trainers even more widely known.

The cynics amongst you will be thinking that I only did this as I was after his body, and that just wasn’t true!    Although at eighteen he was potentially very desirable, especially with those long, rangy limbs and a body that was in nice condition, I really didn’t want to fuck him – anyway, I had slaves in the barn about that age with much more firmly muscled bums, and I could of course have those whenever I chose.    But I began to notice that Andy was taking an interest in him, and was hanging around where Jason was working, and tried to sit down near him when we broke for lunch, and things like that.

I was giving Jason some data for input one afternoon when he stopped and suddenly asked me “Steve, is it OK to talk to the slaves and stuff like that?”

“Oh sure!  We’re really liberal here – none of that artificial distinction between free men and slaves in stuff like that.  They’ve got to be properly civil and respectful, of course, but if you want to talk football, or about the food, or just generally hang out with them, providing it doesn’t interfere with their training….”

“That Andy seems to know a lot about football.  He’s over the moon about Shane…. And I thought that he could tell me a bit more about the game, that sort of thing, so I’d have more to talk to Shane about…”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Jason.”

“Why not?”

“Well, Andy’s a fan, in fact probably the ultimate fan!  If he wasn’t a slave, he’d be spending all his time and money travelling around after his favourite team.  And he does know a lot about it, I grant you, or, at least, seems to… as a fan.  But Shane’s a player, and he’s spending all his time with the other players, and I reckon they know a lot more about it – or know about it from a different perspective. And they must get pretty sick of hearing the drivel a lot of fans talk… If I were you, I’d let Shane tell you all about it.”

“But I want him to know I’m interested….”

“Don’t you think he knows that?  He’ll be a lot keener to have you listen intently to what he says, rather than giving him your half-baked ideas after you’ve pulled together what Andy says.  And I reckon Shane and you have got things other than football to talk about when you get together.  And, anyway, I reckon Andy’s got another motive, too.”  “Oh?”

“Well you probably don’t know, but he’s a sort of Casanova figure – he never stops trying to make out with all the other slaves!”

“You’re kidding!  I thought he was Joe’s… Joe’s…..” He stopped, seeming to lack the right word.

“Bum boy, lover, bed companion?  Sure, Joe loves him, and whenever they can, he sleeps with him and, as far as I know, Joe fucks the shit out of him. But Andy’s a young bloke, much the same age as you – and he likes to fuck:  you must have seen him in the showers?” Jason nodded.  “Well then, you’ll have seen that hung on that scrawny frame there’s a pretty impressive cock.  And, rumour has it, our Andy really knows how to use it!  You’d never think so, but Andy’s fucked more of the other slaves here than anyone else has. And I reckon he’s got you in his sights….”

“You can’t be serious…”

“Oh, come on, Jason!  You’re both horny eighteen year olds!  Why shouldn’t he at least try to get you into bed….”

“But I’m with Shane….”


“Bu I love Shane….”

“So?  We’re not talking about love here, we’re just talking about sex.  Two blokes can have a bit of sport with each other without it meaning anything more than that.”

Jason looked thoughtful.  “Firstly, Steve, does that mean I could fuck the slaves, if I wanted to?”

“I don’t see any reason why not. You’re a free man, on the staff here – just pick the one you want and order him to go with you.”

Jason licked his lips.  “Well that’s interesting… You see…. Well….  I’ve never really fucked anyone.  When Shane and  me are together….”

I grinned.  “There’s nothing wrong with that, you know.  It’s not better to be doing the fucking than it is to be enjoying the cock… In spite of what all the erotic stories say.  If you like taking it, and Shane likes giving it, that’s perfectly natural and normal in my book.”

“I think Shane and I are both liberated enough to understand that, Steve!”  Jason sounded mildly shocked that I might even have been hinting at a point of view somewhat more prevalent at the start of the century. “…. It’s just that, well, I’d like to try fucking.”

“Well, as I said, pick a slave!”

“But most of them are much older than me – and even the blokes just a bit older are more, more sort of…. mature.”

“…which is why you thought of Andy?”

“Well, yes.”

I laughed.  “I reckon it might be quite amusing, actually – let him chat you up a bit more, then take him off into my room, and then as soon as you’re naked, and he’s looking forward to chalking up another notch in the bedpost, order him down on his knees, or however you like it, and fuck the shit out of him! Then let all the other slaves know – it will do Andy a bit of good to remember that his role in life is to please a free man….”

Jason smiled too.  “I reckon I’ll try that.  But… Secondly, well, I suppose it’s not being disloyal to Shane…?.”

“No more than wanking yourself is, I don’t think.  All men need sexual relief, and it’s supposed to be OK to wank when you’re away from your partner.  And sucking another bloke, or fucking him, isn’t any different, really.  It’s when the ‘love’ thing starts that the problems begin.”

Jason suddenly went sort of sad.  “So do you reckon Shane’s fucking the other guys at that training camp?”

“I don’t know about that, Jason.  But look, they’re all horny sixteen to twenty year olds….. And they all need sex, especially as they’re all so fit and stuff.  On the other hand, they’re all footballers – and there’s still that macho thing about footballers having wives and girlfriends and things, and still trying to get their leg over any other woman in sight…. I don’t reckon there’s any good fucking of the other trainees, actually.”

“I think I’m glad about that….”

“…. But, on the other hand, they’ll all want to ‘prove’ themselves.  So if someone suggests a circle jerk in the showers…. That kind of harmless, pretty juvenile stuff….  You must have done that….?”

“Not at our school.  But it goes on, I know.”

“ you’d expect, as it’s a bit of harmless fun. But whether Shane and the other lads at the Club are doing it, I don’t know:  from what I’ve seen, there’s an awful lot of pictures in the papers with those young footballers with some pretty spectacular women hanging on their arms….”

Well, I never did find out whether Jason did in fact fuck Andy, or vice versa.  I suspect the answer was no, as even though Jason could have kept it quiet, I don’t think Andy could have.  But Jason was a bright guy, really bright, you could tell, and I did see him speaking to one of the slaves in his early twenties one day, and then found my door locked from the inside in the early evening.  When I did get to go to bed I found the sheets were freshly changed, and I reckon something had been going on.  I did ask Jason about it the next day as he sat there working, but he muttered something about “feeling tired” and “he hoped  I didn’t mind.”

“…and that Mike’s a pretty good fuck”, I added, and Jason’s reflexes cut in as he nodded in agreement. And then we both bust out laughing!

I think the next few months were really tough for both Shane and Jason – the one settling in to the training centre, and the other into university.  Jason was only free at weekends generally, and Shane went with the teams to watch their matches at the weekends mostly, so there weren’t all those many opportunities for them to be together.  But when it was “half term” at Cambridge, and Shane did come home for a couple of evenings midweek and they seemed to be as fond of each other as they always had been.

Life went on, as ever:  Dan and I carried on our relationship in hotel rooms up and down the county, we bought an sold slaves, and I did the “proper thing” with the new ones, to establish my authority over them.  And a year went by, almsot, without anyone noticing.

The shock came when, following a series of transfers abruptly followed by a couple of spectacular injuries, Manchelsea found themselves without a striker for some fairly important match or other.  It was Andy who alerted us to this, daring to knock on the door as Dan, Julie and me were eating supper, to say the match was just about to start on TV and that Shane was playing!

The commentator made such a big thing about how risky it was for Manchelsea to be chancing almsot everything on such a young, unknown player (Shane was only just seventeen), and he looked so young and vulnerable as he stood out there amongst the team before the match began as they sang the club song in that way they do.  Manchelsea were definitely outclassed, I’d say, as someone who doesn’t know all that much about it.  And at half time they were two nil down.  But incredibly and amazingly, ten minutes into the second half one of their men scored (the commentator said it was “set up” by Shane), they got another one from a penalty after a vicious foul, and with the score at two all, with only three minutes to go, Shane tackled a big, tough black player from the other team, and with control of the ball used his speed and skill to get right down the pitch, then slam it into their goal!

The stadium went wild, and afterwards, in that stupid way that they have, everyone said it was Shane’s goal that won the match.  I’m not belittling his skill, obviously, but if the score is 3-2, every one of those three goals won the match, didn’t they?  Still, it’s the “vital” goal that sticks in everyone’s mind, and in the obligatory interviews after the match the reporters all wanted to talk to Shane, and were barely interested in what the Manchelsea captain had to say.

He stood there, just in his shorts as he’d been headed for the baths, and his whole being screamed joy and happiness – not just the look on his face, but his posture, everything.  But whether it was from being with Jason, or because he was pretty bright anyway (or perhaps it was that pat of the stuff at the training centre was to learn how to deal with the press), he seemed to say exactly the right things. And say them in the right way!   By that I meant that the British public expects its footballers to be a bit “working class”, and Shane was far from that.  Even though he’d been brought up in Essex, Shane had a “normal” speaking voice, learned from Dan and Julie, of course.  But now he definitely sounded like an “Essex boy” as he clipped the end of his words, and used all sorts of colloquialisms usually only used in the poorer parts of that county.

At the end of the interview they finally sad “So, Shane, what now?”

“Back to the training centre, and off to bed, I reckon…. I’m still an apprentice officially, so I don’t live at home…”

“So no girl friend, then?  No one to make that special ‘thank you’ tonight?”

Shane gave a leering grin.  “No, it’s back to the training centre, as I said.  I don’t get home until this weekend, and the other stuff will have to wait….”

And thus began Shane’s deception of the public – or, rather, he continued to tell the absolute truth, and let them draw their own conclusions.

It was Dan of course who negotiated Shane’s contract after that – his one-year apprenticeship was up, and Manchelsea clearly wanted to sign him as he’d now “proved” himself.  And Shane wanted to stay, but Dan insisted they talk to other clubs, and dramatically raised the amount Manchelsea were prepared to pay him.  So much so that Shane went out and bought an apartment, close to the Club, but which Jason could get to easily (in the car Shane bought for him).

He was a regular first team player after that, making a lot of money, especially with the playing and winning bonuses, and the offers of sponsorship and advertising deals began to flow in – he was, after all, a good-looking bloke, one who could talk intelligibly.  Dan and he were really reconciled, but Dan still tried to control him somewhat, reminding him that his career was relatively short and that he needed to invest his money, not waste it.  Shane took all of this very good naturally, and even poked a bit of mild fun at Dan about it.  I heard him say once “You don’t have to worry about me, dad!  I don’t need a Ferrari, not like most of the other players!  I’ve got Jason and he’s excitement enough….”

When Shane was eighteen he was being talked of for the England World Cup squad, the youngest player in the squad, and the public adulation got even worse.  It was so bad that on those occasions when he could come home to our place, we needed to keep a line of slaves standing across the entrance to the yard to (respectfully) keep the reporters out!  Fortunately young Liam didn’t seem affected at all by any of this – he did well at school, and ploughed his way through the almsot obligatory number of girlfriends that a lad of his age has.  He even joked about it, saying that it was easier for younger brothers:  Dan had exhausted himself arguing about sex with Shane, and so didn’t seem to mind what Liam did at all.

The British public, or, rather, the British press, seems to like nothing better, though, than to tear down an idol that it has helped create.  Even though Shane didn’t get drunk, didn’t smash up hotel rooms, was never caught for speeding, or any of those other things for which footballers are renowned, they kept on trying to find something that they could accuse him of or criticise him for.

Their opportunity came when, as usual, the press wanted to turn the World Cup into some sort of war substitute, and began to be stupidly jingoistic  – incredibly, they still kept harking on about 1966 when English won, against Germany (“Two world wars and one world cup…” England fans were always chanting at their German counterparts.).  As part of this, the assorted wives and girlfriends of the England team members were “invited” or “persuaded” to take part in some idiotic programme on TV where they worked up a song and dance number “to celebrate England’s victory”.

It only took one of the gutter papers to begin a campaign to say that Shane and his girl were too snooty to take part, for the tide to begin to turn against Shane!  In days he went from being the hero who was going to win the competition for England, to being reviled as “the overpaid brat who doesn’t care about his country” (a charge so unfair, as he was still earning less than most of the other players).

Shane was really upset about it, and I know that he went to Cambridge to talk to Jason about the situation. The storm broke the next morning, as he’d been followed – and there was a “candid” photograph of he and Shane sitting in a Cambridge pub surrounded by other students, with Shane’s hand resting casually on Jason’s thigh.  The pub was described as a “notorious haunt of homosexuals” and the papers brayed on and on about the need for “real men” in the England squad. There were some really cruel jokes, too:  “How many men in the England team?”. “Ten and a queer”.  All that sort of stuff.

Shane was now absolutely furious, and he drove over to see Dan and Julie, with a swarm of reporters in hot pursuit.  We were all in that familiar, safe, kitchen, and Shane was almost sobbing.  He told us how Jason was the only thing that mattered in his life, and how this publicity was tearing at their relationship. Finally, I cut in.  “Look, Shane, I know Jason pretty well.  And I reckon you two will survive this – you love each other, and that counts for an awful lot, you know.  But how far are you prepared to go?”

“What do you mean?”

“You were prepared to risk breaking up with your mom and dad for Jason.  Will you give up football for him?”

Shane didn’t even hesitate.  “Of course!  It’s my career, my passion…. But Jason’s much more important.”

One of the blokes Dan and I used to play football with all those years ago had gone into TV as it so happens, and was a minor sports reporter.  We found his number, and I called him and asked him to broker an exclusive interview that night on the BBC, to follow the nine o’clock news.  It was amazing how much interest the story was generating, and the BBC, always keen to snatch audiences, from lunchtime onwards had saturation coverage of their planned interview with Shane.

Manchelsea went frantic, and demanded that they sent a PR person and/or a lawyer along, or, better still, that the interview was cancelled totally.  But Shane refused, as he did all requests to “go through” the type of questions that he might be asked.  He spent a lot of time on his mobile to Jason, and then as we drove down to London to the studios, he looked at Dan and Julie and me in the car and said calmly “You always taught me not to be afraid, mom, dad…. And this is scary.  But you won’t mind what I say, will you?”

“Son, it doesn’t matter!”, Dan told him. “You’re our son.  Whatever you do is all right by your mom and me”, and Julie hugged him.

We had terrible problems getting through the crowds outside TV centre – the public had turned up in their thousands, as well as the press, and there was a special big screen on the outside of the building to relay the interview.  Shane was booed and jeered as our car nosed its way through!  And as we were led to the studio, there was Jason!

They embraced and kissed, and Shane seemed to be calmer.  Then Jason and Dan and Julie and me were taken off to the side to watch as the preparations were made.   Personally I thought it was a mistake to use one of their really hard-nosed belligerent reporters, and as the interview began he summarised the press comment of the last few days, and then, the cameras zooming in to Shane so we could see every tiny expression on his face in the monitors, he rapped “So you do admit that you’re a homosexual, don’t you?”

“No.”  Said Shane quietly.

“…you were seen in a homosexual pub, your hand on the thigh of a student, a student you were at school with….”  “I was there, and yes, my hand was on Jason’s thigh.”

“…and yet you refuse to admit that you’re a homosexual..?”  The programme had cut to a view of the interviewer now, with an almsot triumphant look on his face.”

“I do refuse to ‘admit’ it!  That’s the problem.  Your use of the word ‘admit’ is so grossly prejudicial that it’s a disgrace.  I am a homosexual.  I have never denied it.  But I refuse to ‘admit’ it – that makes it sound as if it’s somehow wrong, or strange.  I might admit to being a rapist, or an alcoholic, or something like that…. But I am a homosexual, I always have been, and I always will be.  I don’t need to ‘admit’ it.”

The interviewer appeared stunned for a moment. “…but your behaviour in a pub….?”

Shane smiled.  I recognised the look.  He was in control now.  “Do you go to pubs?”  The interviewer nodded.  “With your wife, or girlfriend?”  Another nod.  “And do you never touch them, just for the pleasure of it?  Not sexually – it is  a public place – but a gentle touch, a touch that says ‘I love you’ , a private sharing of your regard for each other?”


“Well then, I feel sorry for you, and your wife! Couples who love each other share such little intimacies all the time.  And if you don’t, you’re cut off from really important things in life.  I bet there are millions of men and women out there tonight who have brushed their fingers against the skin of their partners in a pub….”

The interviewer was on the run now.  “But you’re a role model for a generation of young people…”

“Quite so.  I have a long-term, loving relationship with my partner.  And that’s an excellent role to have.  There would be a lot less misery in our society if everyone was like us.”

“You can hardly expect the public to accept an open homosexual representing the nation, though…. Especially one who has consistently denied it….”

“I have never denied it.  It’s sloppy journalists who took my silence when they talked about ‘someone special’ and things like that as some sort of confirmation that I had a woman.  I do not believe you can ever find anything I’ve ever said that’s a lie about this.  I’m proud of Jason.” Shane stood up, and called out for Jason, who got up from where he had been sitting with us and staggered into the blazing lights.  Shane put his arm around Jason’s shoulder, and kissed him lightly.  “I asked to do this interview tonight”, he said carefully, “And I asked Jason to come, too – there are two of us in this, you know – as it’s his life, his privacy, that’s an issue here as well.  We’ve talked about it, and we’re both agreed:  If the public doesn’t want me to play in the World Cup, that’s fine.  Jason and I will have a chance at last to take a good long holiday together as his exams at Cambridge are almsot over. But under no circumstances will I continue to put up with gross intrusions into my private life – a private life that is, I might say, rather more spotless than that of most of the journalists who seem to be so keen to revile us.  Jason and I are leaving now.  We’re going home, with my mom and dad, and we’re going to do what we’ve been doing ever since I was sixteen – we’re going to bed, and sharing our love.”

He had one parting shot, though. “There’s a well known example in this country of someone giving up everything for the one he loved – Edward did, for Wallace Simpson – and in my small way, I am going to do the same.  Football means nothing to me, compared to Jason.” He now took Jason by the hand, tore off his microphone, and walked out!

They had to use a heavy police escort to get our car out of the TV centre – the crowd had seemed to have turned very ugly indeed, and Julie was shaking with fear – not for herself, of course, but for Shane and Jason.  We drove home talking about this and that as if it was “old times”, and when Dan went to turn on the radio, Julie stopped him and whispered “Time enough for that tomorrow, Dan.  Let’s live tonight like we used to.”

When we got home Andy was still up.  He looked totally shattered!  “Traitor….”, he hissed as Shane walked past, and I lost it.  I screamed for Joe to go and get my cane, but Shane stooped me.  He put his hand on Andy’s shoulder and said quietly “I know you love football, Andy.  But you love Joe, too, don’t you? Suppose you had to choose…?”, and walked off into my room with Jason.

Those of you not around at the time can’t imagine the hysteria this broadcast caused.  The BBC was accused of being prejudiced, even after years and years of supposed sexual equality. It was also accused, by different people, of showing a “depraved and disgusting scene of men kissing”.  The riots outside TV centre that night were mostly caused by fans who had started the evening by criticising Shane, but who now wanted to kill the journalists that might have deprived England of its best chance of winning the World Cup.  And the papers the following morning were a complete mess – all blaming each other for being out of touch with the popular mood.

There were riots in Central London later that day as marchers were prevented from heading for Downing Street to demand that the Prime Minister intervened to “insist” Shane was a  member of the squad, and the hapless Minister For Sport could do nothing right, being hammered by the Christians for “condoning unnatural acts” when she suggested that the England management and Shane should get together, and for “total cowardice” by the football fans who just wanted to see Shane play.

Shane’s Club was furious about the unauthorised interview with the press, and summoned him to the Club to be reprimanded.  Shane and I talked about it, and I reminded him that all contracts were a matter of where the power lay – and with the semi-finals of the FA Cup on later that week, Manchelsea needed Shane rather more than, at that moment, he needed them!  So I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall at that meeting when they threatened to tear up Shane’s contract, and he pointed out that he had enough money by now anyway, and that he thought a year or two off just travelling around the world with Jason might actually be fun.

We were all nevertheless very nervous about the semi-finals that Saturday afternoon, so much so, indeed, that Dan and I (and Andy, who begged and pleaded to be allowed to go and see a real match), actually went to the ground.  The crowd seemed to be in a funny mood, with Manchelsea’s opponents taunting the Manchelsea fans with horrible variations on the old song “Two little boys”, replacing “there’s room on my horse for two…” with “room up my arse for you”, and the Manchelsea fans very unusually not responding at all – it was as if all the fire had gone out of them.  Things looked very bad indeed, as the teams were finely poised and they needed every ounce of support they could get.

When the teams ran out on to the pitch the opposing fans started shouting “Ugh, ugh, ugh…” and pointing at Shane to imply he was being fucked.  He stood there, looking pale and unsure as the teams all shook hands, and then, in an utterly spontaneous and totally unexpected gesture, the Manchelsea captain, well known for shagging every woman who got near him, went up to Shane and hugged him, planting a kiss on his cheek! Every one of the team then did the same, and the crowd reaction was instantaneous and electric:  there was a huge roar of applause and congratulations from the Manchelsea fans, and Shane seemed to change from being hunched and worried, to being about two feet taller and supremely confident.  At the end of the match, with Manchelsea winning 1-0, the goal coming from Shane, they went wild and the chants from both sets of supporters of “Shane for England!” went on and on.

The next week was of course the FA Cup Final, and all of us went – Dan, Julie, Jason, and it seemed as if it was becoming a habit – Andy.  We went to the directors’ box at Wembley hired by Manchelsea, and as we went to the window, were completely amazed: instead of the usual dark red and blue flags of Manchelsea, it seemed almost all our fans were now waving the once-reviled “rainbow” ones!

Shane was “man of the match”, and afterwards he insisted that if the press wanted to interview him it would be with Jason at his side.  The two men stood there, proud in their love for each other, and took the questions.  No one, it seemed, wanted to ask about the match they’d just played.  They all wanted to know if Shane would play for England as the World Cup was now only six weeks away.

Shane gave one of his slow smiles, looked straight into the camera and said casually “I might, but only if Jason gets the same deal as the other lads’ partners!  I told the England Manager earlier in the week that I’d play providing Jason could come, but he said it was for wives only.  I now understand that several of the other lads have said they won’t go if their girlfriends cannot….”

There was more uproar then, and someone even dared to ask Dan about the kissing incident (which had been repeated at this match) and Shane smiled again.  “Well all my team mates have always known about Jason – the first time I played for the Club, I thought I ought to tell them. They’re just showing solidarity – I don’t think any of them really want to fuck with me!”

There was a lot of laughter at that, and then “..and they don’t mind, in the showers, and everything….?” the same hapless reporter asked.

“Anyone who’s ever played sport or used a public changing room knows that all blokes look at each other, don’t they?  It’s only natural – all men like to compare their cocks with the opposition!  So of course I look at them, just as they look at me – do you think I’m some sort of pervert, or something, not doing what other men all do?”

Even more laughter this time, and a reporter called out “And what about the future, Shane?”

“After the World Cup, Jason and I are getting married.  I want to do it now, but Jason thinks we owe everyone a huge party!”

“You never asked me….”, Jason butted in.

“Well I’m asking you now, idiot!  You and me – together for ever, straight after the final, OK?”

Jason nodded, and the two men threw their arms around each other, and began feverishly and perfectly unashamedly to deep kiss.  

To be continued …

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