Sitting on a bus with Jeff Bretos and Anthony Watson. Its October 20, 1977.
Chelsea in town to play the Bluebirds. Trouble brewing. Such is the Tribal warfare of opposing fans. So. As we always do when a London club arrives to take on Cardiff. We make our way to the ground two hours early. Last time it was Millwall. And with that game and the 70's reputation for the East End London club fans to deliver such destructive hooliganism an escorted train was organized to deliver the contingent right to the side of Ninian Park - Cardiff's stadium at the time. Heads sticking out of the windows as if a cattle truck was arriving. And as predicted crowd trouble in spite of such a heavy police presence was impossible to stop.
This time it was Chelsea. Cardiff's attendance would double for this game. And Chelsea from Kings Road in London always brought significant numbers. 4,000 on this particular day. Ray Wilkins in the side was worth paying to watch on that fact alone.
"You're going get your fucking heads kicked in" a catchphrase ringing out from from two hundred or so Cardiff fans as we enter the core city center. Scarves tied around the wrists, donkey jackets and Dr martens boots was the dress code for being a part of "coolness".
Anything but cool however, was Watson, who by now had his nose pinned to the upper deck window of the bus. A perfect vantage point for him to survey the proceedings which are about to take place as the Cardiff mob run at two Chelsea Fans drinking outside a Cardiff city center pub.
"Fucking get um. Fucking get the bastards", shouts Watson saliva dripping from his mouth as if he could be of such value in Tribal warfare.
It was quite the scene 200 against 2 seems a little over kill. My mind is saying something not right. Adrenaline kicking in as I watch the two Chelsea fans unbelievably fend off a dozen punches and kicks while retreating behind the pub doors. I'm thinking again as the Cardiff supporters move on delighted with their annihilation. Something odd about that. Not right.
Why would they have been so careless to stand on their own. Outside a pub. In the middle of an opponents city center. And it was not like Cardiff were regarded as softies.
Didn't have to wait long for my answer. As four doors of the pub smash open beer mugs, snooker cues flying. A huge posse of Chelsea fans emerge and chase down the retreating Cardiff mob - who all of sudden looked less comfortable with the circumstances. It was a set-up. A RUSE.
I could have thrown an orange at Watson's face and he would have swallowed it in one gulp such was his astonishment. Only to be topped after the game when in the synchronized walking of hundreds of Cardiff supporters away from the ground we heard a dozen cockney accents,
"Where's all you fucking Cardiff fans then".
Watson chirps out. "We're right here".
While initial mayhem starts breaking out Jeff and I start running. But catching Watson we could not. He just kept running to the bus station about half a mile down the road. Had he have stopped and looked back he would have seen there was nothing doing. A storm in a teacup as the Chelsea fans were so outnumbered they had quickly retreated. Watson didn't know or care. He jumped onto the first Orange bus he saw which was going to the wrong side of town. As likable and funny as he was. I thought at the time. No wonder he gets picked last in 5 a sides.
1993 Durham, New Hampshire: New Hampshire College 8-1 LeMoyne College
As we enter the changing room head coach of LeMoyne College Frank Bevacqua wraps up the days proceedings by announcing. There is an excellent restaurant in town. Lets go eat.
Four months later I am the LeMoyne College head men's soccer coach. I didn't realize as I was helping Frank out as an assistant in that 1993 season that he had planned to resign at the end of the season. It was to be my third coaching assignment. Two previous remits were at the professional level. Being not so aware of my coaching techniques and patterns at the time I went about the LeMoyne reshaping on continued instinct and conditioning of my prior experiences - like a knife through butter. The LeMoyne team had not had a winning season in 15 years.
A small squad was whittled down to 9 players within a week. I had the benefit of monitoring all the players from a distance for 3 months. I knew all I needed to know. Facial expressions. Body language. The Ids's (Chimps in modern day parlance). And what they said. How they answered questions. I would ask a question and then just sit back and let them talk. When I cut 10 players it made front page news of the Syracuse Post sports section. Ten months later we went 15-5-1. Second best record of LeMoyne's ALL time men's soccer History. And it stood for another decade after I had left. Still ranked in the top five even now. Of the players I released, three would have been considered technically the best. Didn't matter - you had to be technically the best but with a minimum threshold of positive spirit. Without the right collective character - you will lose, under perform, underachieve at some point. The players I kept were magnificent characters: Frank Barbuto, Danny Finnegan, Frank Lefuria, Michael Gibbs', Jimmy Razmovski and others. Through recruiting we added Ralph Ginese, Kavan Howell, Lee Williams, David Roe, Mike Williams. It remains one of the most memorable soccer times of my career. LeMoyne College 1994. Unbeknownst to me at the time my ability to apply Ethnomethodology skill to my coaching was cemented.
In 2000 coaching the Canadian U20 team after arriving home from a trip to Duisburg Germany where we had won 4 and lost one game I cut 9 players. We had a serious attitude problem among the group in Duisburg - to the point there was a mini-revolt. Six months later we beat the United States 2-1 in their own back yard and 7 months from that we qualified for the FIFA World U20 Championships winning a CONCACAF Group title. The Canadian's haven't been able to accomplish either, in over 12 years.
It is not that I was a visionary. Not that I had a special originality on character definitions or the plain and obvious declaration that you need the right characters to be a successful team. That is known by all coaches in any sport. It is the ability to assess and observe correctly. To correct and implement the standards you set consistently. That is what makes the difference. Top sporting coaches could make very good detectives and likewise, very good detectives could make very good coaches if they were desirous of doing so.
While at York University coaching exclusively the women's soccer team I was able to utilize all that I had learned to that point in my soccer coaching career. Once again, we were in a disadvantaged position. York University was very difficult to recruit top female soccer players because of the legacy of Jane and Finch and media attention surrounding rapes on campus. And it was used against us in recruiting at every turn while I was there. Nevertheless we managed to win 4 divisional titles and three Provincial/State Championships when nothing was achieved prior to my arrival or after I had left.
And the point. Its not that I am better coach than Carmine Isacco the current York University women's coach. It was my ability to maximize the potential of any group. To do that you have to assess and observe correctly; set out a principled plan; problem solve; adjust when needed; execute with passion and energy. And then, be resilient.
And of course while this was going on I was also a national television soccer analyst ranked in some quarters as the best in Canada - garnering much jealousy which itself, created a life of its own. Yet, as it is Canada, seemingly no more jealously than I encounter now from persons within the mental health field some of who are remarkably intimidated by the Paul J James story. Of course during this coaching and TV analyst success I was using crack cocaine which completely defied the stereotypes. No one has ever asked me the right questions as to how that could be or how have I managed to accomplish what has been achieved since I left York University in 2009. I'll let people know when they do ask the right questions.
And so, it is the aforementioned traits which has permitted Paul J James to navigate the waters of the dreadful process I have been caught up in within Canada. To have handled the unrelenting opinions and criticisms of being mentally ill and mentally sick when I am anything but. Just a normal person with a diagnosed disability who is passionate and determined to receive social justice because it will literally change the way we look at the world when it comes substance disability. And also now, to make the point that, I should never have lost my soccer career: collegiate coaching job and television analyst work. It was the cruelest part of the whole nightmare and fiasco. So unbelievably unnecessary. And when Canadian society finally disseminates the truth in this matter...it will reveal itself as the real tragedy.
A birdie lands on my shoulder. I turn. I say. Is this the day? The birdie shakes its head.
I open my email. Local man B has just finally recognized what I mean by "your chimp" (Freudian's Id). It can be your best friend. Your worse enemy. Reading B's response to the email sent out to a select group of individuals including B himself, titled Cowards and Scum he tripped up. Kinda Big time. He didn't read the play. Or perhaps he did. After all I first entertained the idea of labeling those who have harmed my life so mercilessly - as a collective unit of Scum - when he had declared previously that all politicians and establishment types are scumbags because of their ongoing lying, cheating and selfishness, their main modus operandi.
I liked his use of the word Scum and so severed it from scumbag which in simplified translation means dirty. Scum sounds worse than what it really is.
More pertinent though. B didn't know why I used the word. Which was to show how it is to live as an exposed person with a Substance Disability. To throw a grenade of shock treatment to those correctly labelled Cowards who have harmed my life because of their lies, collusion et al. To provoke a persons chimp. To make them frustrated. Perhaps even angry. To make them think. To reflect. To provoke thought. To break up the cement permanently lodged in their Super-Ego's of bias, prejudice, and denial.
To be clear it is the most oppressed group of persons - citizens with substance disabilities - who are treated as Worthless Scum. Not them or others. Labelled as Scum and being treated like Scum are two entirely different things. People like Paul J James. We are perceived as Useless. Dirty. No good citizens. Worthy not of dignity and respect not even by our peers as illustrated to perfection by M's emails on this most of audacious of days. His carelessness was to behold. And a harm to the opposition as unfortunately was B's dialogue - B a genuinely good man caught up in a nightmare of which he has perhaps unwittingly contributed or brilliantly provoked.
The aroma of feces's wakes me up with pure vengeance as if delivered in speech by Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
As I open my eyes I see a man apparently in his 70's bent over running to the shower. He had his soiled shorts in hand. The combined stench of crap and homelessness is not a good combination. I try to ignore it. PJ wants to rip the whole facility a part but even he doesn't have the energy. So I get up. Grab my satchel and reverse my normal cycle. I shave first. Then shower.
Xmas Eve 2018. Two hours earlier when I entered it was near enough empty.
Locker door man is now hovering around in what is a busy facility. He is subdued however. A few days earlier with his, "I'm going to cap your fucking ass you nigger drug dealer"...his ongoing dialogue with himself getting worse each passing day was suddenly catapulted into what seemingly appears to be oblivion. On this particular occasion as I was leaving the shower the guy sitting down beside me shouts out.....
"Why don't you shut the fuck up. Lets go. Me and You now. In the fucking shower. Come on you fuck. You and me. You fucking ranting on. Come on man. Lets go. Hey. You may win. But i'll take my chances. We are all in the same boat. We're all homeless. So shut the fuck up"
When he looked at me. I said, "have you ever coached"?
On this day though I had to get to the Internet cafe to finish writing. At a bare minimum. It helps take away the time.
As I walk along Dundas to Bathurst I think back to December 9, 2018 and why I had gotten to the stage of having to pull off such an audacious trick - RUSE. Enough was enough was the reason encapsulated. I had exhausted all other options in a country seemingly so dreadfully out of touch with how to operate and treat its citizens. A country with apparently no class. A country whose establishment cheats, undermines and defiles a person of such Truth. A country so selfish and unaware of its cowardice and selfishness it is little wonder we have a mental disability problem which is getting worse not better.
I feel like a tied slave pulled around by a cart ...poked and prodded....kicked and shamed......even by my family. And I think. If happens to me. What chance do others have?....(to be continued)