Sweden, snuff and sneezing | The greatest (Blades) stories ever told
For this year's DEM Blades writing competition, we're asking fans to tell us their 'greatest story ever told'. Of course, any entry must be about Sheffield United Football Club too. In theory, your story could be about anything tangentially related to the red and white stripes. Yes, the parameters are loose, and we hope that gets your creative juices flowing, but we also thought it might be helpful to offer up an example, a guide.
To launch the competition we're sharing a great story. Something to get you thinking, and hopefully, get you writing. Phil Rose, competition judge and the Carrier Bag Firm's (CBF) Propaganda Czar, gives us one of the greatest stories he's ever told.
Sweden, snuff and sneezing
With Sheffield United Football Club dreaming of a European slot. I can now, exclusively reveal that the Club have given the Carrier Bag Firm (CBF) the officially franchised gig for advising those Blades who haven't got the remotest clue about foreign football fandangos.
Are you aware of the Carrier Bag Firm? We're those Gloriously Geeky Gargoyles who exist on the fringes of Bladeyness. We used to be called Billy No Mates. Loners. Weirdos. Really, we were born into Self Isolation. Social Distancing is in our DNA. Survivors.
The CBF think CP Company stands for Cagoules and Parkas. Have a butcher's at them. Dragged through Primark backwards. Surely, they'd be hopeless if it came on top. Wrong. As soon as they get a sniff of a Match Programme or Teamsheet. They're out of the shadows and on you. "Do you want some….?"
"Yes please, and one for my mate who can't make it, and I'm a collector so a couple of extras please."
I know. I know. It sounds odd. Why would a bunch of such miserable mutant misfits get the job to advise Civilian Blades about Europe. Put simply. It's because the Carrier Bag Firm have done stuff. Read on.
We'll begin by using our vast experience to answer some FAQs - F****ing Astonishing Questions.
"I don't like foreign muck. Carling is all I'll drink. Will we be able to drink from cans outside the European grounds?"
FFS. That'll be easier in some countries than others. For instance. My first We're Going Abroad trip following United was to Krylbo IF in August 1988. That's in Sweden. And Sweden will come at you quickly if you want to drink some cans. Because, you have to beat "The System". The System is Systembolaget. One, single Government-owned bottle shop in smaller towns like Krylbo. And, the ONLY place in Sweden where you can grab take out booze over 3.5%. Oh Yes. You can nip into the supermarket and panic buy tins of beer. But, it'll only be 3.5% or less. Please don't feel deflated. Don't fall into the obvious trap of eyeballing the CBF, checking their waistbands, checking the stains on their Fred Perry Polos. You're thinking - man, I bet they can hold their Ale. UnFact. Name your poison. I'll be under the IKEA table before you've got the froth off it. Lightweight and proud.
I'm living proof from Krylbo. If you nip to the supermarket enough times. Re up. You'll get absolutely hammered on those three and halfers. I know. I did. So hammered I've had to look the score up, obvs.
Krylbo IF 0 v Sheffield United 7 (Joseph (3), Pike, Duffield, Agana, Williams).
"What's the crack with singing all the songs an' that? Will the locals even know what Snuff is?'
FFS. Well, I'll answer that by explaining the very first time I had the old Good Pinch. Bizarrely, I can remember the exact date. August 6th, 1988. And the location. Krylbo, a small town in Sweden. It's a funny story actually. I'd got Royally Ratarsed on tins of beer watching The Blades in the afts. But, I was determined to kick the Beer Ball further down Ale Street that evening. Indeed, all the way to Norway if it came to it. A friendly Krylbo Bagger offered me Snuff in the local Some Random Bar. It turned out to be a mad ambush. And, it didn't end well for me. Sneezing Fit. I blew my glasses off. Combination of Beer and Snuff meant I couldn't find them. Ah well. At least I can confirm foreigners know about Snuff.
"I don't speak the lingo. And, I don't understand their money. How will I travel about and get to the games?"
FFS. Well. A variety of transport options will be available. But, the Carrier Bag Firm are issuing an Official Advisory. Be very careful of the train timetables. Not all trains will run on all days. Pay particular attention to the asterisks and footnotes. Take for instance August 6th. In 1988, that was a Saturday. The CBF were patiently waiting for the 2013pm train from Avesta Krylbo station back to Stockholm. Of course, being addled on three and half Lager didn't help. Of course, eyes watering from Spectacular Snuff Sneezing didn't help. Neither did the lack of glasses lost in said sneezing fit. No. Impossible. It's there in the footnotes. The 2013pm doesn't run on Saturdays. How did I miss that info? No train home.
I am now going to time lapse to roughly 0800am the next morning. I woke up to banging on a door. A quick "no glasses" scan of my surroundings indicated a hotel room. Headcount - four CBF, one Chelsea Headhunter (there's a whole different story in that) and your author. Bang. Bang. Bang. Oh here we go. This'll either be Swedish Plod or the Krylbo Kranium Kickers (KKK). Occupational hazard in my game. Let's do this.
"Hello. Are you lot OK? Dave says you can jump on the Coach if you're ready by half nine"
(Me) "Who's Dave?
"Dave. Dave Bassett. The Manager. Jump on the Coach with us"
"Oh. Righto. Half nine, yeah? And, sorry, who are you?"
"Andy. Andy Barnsley"
(Yes. That Andy Barnsley. SUFC Right Back. 86-88. Seventy-three Football League starts for us).
Later that day, 80 odd miles away from that bizarre exchange in a Krylbo hotel, The Blades beat Vassunda IF 9-0. (Duffield (3), Agana (3), Williams (2), Joseph). As I said, a variety of travel options will be available. In Kazakhstan. In Amsterdam. But, that low abv System beating, snuff taking, glasses losing, timetable misreading, Andy Barnsley wake up calling weekend in Sweden in 1988. Our travel option was with Bassett, Deano, Agana, Stan The Man and Jock Bryson on the Official Team Coach.
Congratulations, you have just been informed by the Carrier Bag Firm.