An Englishman In New York

Posted by john_mac on August 6, 2004, 07:28:27 PM

Madder than mad Jack McMad, the winner of last years Mr Mad Competition


A Scouser in NYC

There are few cities in the world where I can feel as ‘at home’ as I do in New York, so when the details of this seasons pre-season tour to North America were announced, it was greeted with a certain aplomb (I’ve been dying to use that word ever since I heard it on match of the day as a kid - finally made it). The only decision to be made was for how long to go for.

Myself and my mate Darren decided we’d just do the NY leg of the drip and duly booked, quickly followed by a couple of Kirkby lads who’ve been my mates since school. In the end the way the dates fell I could have made it up to Toronto but as two of the four of us had never been to NY we decided that we’d give it a miss in order to sample the quiet delights of the City.

Duncan lives in Jersey now, so we arranged to meet him at Heathrow. Darren who now lives in Llandudno, picked the other two of us up in Kirkby and duly set us on our way to Manchester, the self-appointed capital of itself. Anyhow we were down to Heathrow on the shuttle and in the Wetherspoons at the airport before you could say boo to a preverbial. The dozey bastard from Jersey phoned the mobey and had gone to the wrong Wetherspoons, the start of many such mistakes for this clueless character, a man who recently put a bet on Lippi being our new manager, as a result of inside information ...

A few pints later, just to ease the journey mind, and we were across the Atlantic, arriving on BA flight 115 at JFK airport to be greeted by the chauffer with his card proclaiming McCormick. JFK is a little less impressive as an airport than JLA, but then again, which one isn’t? My chauffer quickly ushered us off to my limo, and like a superstar I was soon weaving my way through the streets of Queens on the approach to the Manhattan skyline. I think I could get used to this.

Quickly through the mid-town tunnel and before long we pulled up, shades on of course, at the Hotel Thirty Thirty. I was convinced I heard the concierge mumble “Should have went to Specsavers” but he wouldn’t say it to my face, must be my ‘hooli’ reputation preceding me. It wasn’t long before we were out in search of our first jar in NY, and it took all of two blocks before we stumbled upon Rocky Sullivan’s bar. Named after James Cagney’s legendary character in ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’, I just couldn’t resist it. When you walk in to the strains of ‘Pretty Vacant’ you just knew you were in the right place - four bottles of Bud and a quick scan of the dukey only served to confirm it. “I’m on top of the World Ma!”

When you visit any visit City it is customary to establish a ‘local’, somewhere to use as a base, and on previous visits to NY, I have headed for McCormack’s bar on 3rd Ave, originally just coz its my name, but since then because I have enjoyed the place. Given that it is only round the corner from our Hotel, it was certainly the obvious choice this time, and since time was knockin’ on we headed straight round there, I mean the bar closes at 4am and you don’t want to miss out! Unusually for New York, McCormack’s is an Irish bar. We were in there for an Ireland game last year, and you couldn’t get in the door at 8pm for a 4am kick off - eight hours before the game the place was rammed, madness.

The streets of New York are paved with Supermodels but I can’t help but think that the sight of a pair of pins caked in scouse freckles is just too much for them to take. I mean what else could be the reason behind a nubile female of Eastern extraction with a skirt half way up her ring approaching with the classic one-liner “You looking for some Ass?” The shy hero of the tale, of course, scuttled away like a frightened rabbit to Maca’s bar.

In Maca’s bar were some familiar faces, two Liverpool and a Man United barman from previous trips were pleased to see us, and the whole atmosphere of the place is really good as The Lightening Seeds blast out of the dukey. A few buds and a couple of JDs later, and things soon start to liven up as one of our number was seen sloping with a New Yorker with a very strange hat. One by one, as the journey kicked in, the lads sloped, carefully avoiding the ladies of third avenue, although I’m not sure everyone was successful!

At 10am the first of the troops to leave became the last to return to the hotel, fresh from his new ‘friend's’ flat on 18th Street and looking a tad battle weary having dispensed with an army of ‘trojans’. “What we doing?” and, of course, we were going sight seeing - shit, shower n shave later and we were on our way.

Sightseeing consisted of a trip to Macey’s, a cab to Times Square and then going for a bevvy in the Pig n Whistle, followed by another, and another, a couple more gaffs, a bite to eat, a few more and back the room. The plan was to go down the 11th Street bar to catch the Porto game with the New York Supporters club but by the time seven bells came and went all I could hear was the sound of snoring.

These New York cabbies are crazy, driving like loons, they can’t understand a word you are saying and you stand little chance of getting where you want unless you have an address written down, even those like myself, who speak properly. I’ve developed a habit of wherevr I am getting in taxis and just lying to the drivers before they start lying to me, coz they invariably do. This task was honed and perfected on the maniacs who drive the yellow cabs of NYC, and in the end I couldn’t help myself, the more outlandish the better.

“How many cabs are there in this village mate?” …………………”Twelve thououousand in Manhatten”

“are there, yeah? Not bad that mate, I come from Liverpool, the biggest city in Europe, thirty thousand Hackney cabs we have, mind u, it is a big city.”

“You’re joking?”

“No mate, honestly”

By the time we arrived at eleventh street the fella was completely bemused. Smoking has been banned in New York’s bars so you can usually see a bar from about 100 yards by the number of smokers gathered outside it, bifting away. As I arrived at the bar, I noticed the ‘Sex in the City’ girls (or is it the golden girls?) outside the bar, Ali, Sarah and Christine had just arrived from there mid-Manhattan penthouse just down the road from Times Square. Lee and Alison were inside the bar, where we sat down to watch a late goal beat the reds before moving on to 8th Ave for a few more. By this time I had convinced myself that I was a local in New York, I’m seriously thinking about getting on the cabs out there, I know the place better than any of the cabbies and I can certainly talk far more bullshit than them. By 2.30am the slightly inebriated Christine needed to be escorted back to the penthouse, whilst Lee managed to convince himself that he knows his way round the city, when in fact he was more confused than a drunken Glaswegian with a half Celtic, half Rangers bobble hat. I know he is getting on a bit but didn’t realize that senile dementia had already set in.

Saturday in Manhattan is bouncing, and was the day we had planned for a while. Brekky followed by a bit of shopping on fifth, where we bumped into a few of the players - Carra, Owen, Gerrard, Riise and Murphy were all looking for somewhere to eat, apparently Beni had given them the avvy off but they were under orders to get back to the New Jersey hotel by early evening. I don’t think you truly appreciate the true gingerness of Riise till you see him up close, he must be less Scandinavian than a brown-bitter. It was weird to see them walking down looking like a crew of scallies with no-one getting onto who they were. I did wonder why Biscan wasn’t with them, but reckon it was coz he was probably still doing his hair, it's difficult to make that ‘just got out of bed’ style look so natural, ya know.

From the shopping, it was a couple of jars and down the Staten Island ferry. I’m not usually the best of sightseers, I just get bored so easily, but I don’t actually mind it in New York, I'm even  interested. We decided to have a few jars in Staten Island before shooting back over to Manhattan - now this was to prove an experience.

Off the ferry and up the platform towards Hamilton Square, er Staten Island, and quickly looking for a bar, it was either that or watching the Staten Island Yankees (like the New York Yankees reserves) but couldn’t be arsed with that. “Where’s the nearest bar, mate?” & yer should have seen it, like going back in time. Outside there was a cowboy type smoking a cig, with water dripping from the air-conditioning unit right above the entrance. At the end of the bar there was an auld fella, he wouldn’t have been out of place in Spencers with veins running through his nose like a Merseyrail map and a coggy on his forehead the size of a golfball. Behind the bar stood the delectable Anna, the preverbial mutton dressed as lamb, who was only too delighted to lap up a bit of attention, and why shouldn’t she? She didn’t even bother to go the khazzy to dust her self down, lippy straight out and right in the bar mirror: “What part of London of youze from?”

“London girl? Nah we’re from the capital of England, Liverpool!”

“I thought London was the capital”

“Nah, get a grip will yer”

The dukey was a classic, a veritable country and western delicacy laced with lashings of  The Big O, Booker T and even the unbelievable sight of Conway Twitty on a dukebox. The toilets had the most hilarious graffiti I have seen since primary school, classic ones like:

‘Bobby O’Connor is a mother’

followed by:

‘No he’s not, you are’

Ahh the humour of it all, fuckin brill, and the state of the khazziz too, oooohhh, jeez they make the outside bogs in the derelict houses of Liverpool 7 look like the Ritz, the place stunk, with flies everywhere………it was great.

Two hours later we left the place, waved goodbye with a peck on the cheek to Anna and headed off back to Manhatten, rolling over in laughter. Anna was chocka, begging us to stay, whilst auld coggy ead was made up the music had gone off. I’ll never be able to listen to Jonny Cash’s ‘ring of fire’ without the image of Anna bent double over the bar with her own ‘ring of fire’ visible to the world. I’m sure even the ole green bird in the middle of the Hudson was laughing at us going in that yard for a jar.

Back on dry land it was up to Little Italy for a scran. If anyone has been down there they’ll know what it is like, all big tables with people sitting round talking all night over a bottle of wine, sound. We chose what looked like a posh number, and went in there, “it’ll be thirty minutes”- no probs mate, we’ll wait in the bar- “pass the wine list”, I’m classy like that. Mind you, Darren’s shorts took a few shady looks from the local gangster types. The picture of Tony Soprano eating at his favourite restaurant adorning the wall is enough to make your heart skip a beat, yeah sound. Meatballs, veal and red wine, whilst talking a load of bollox, yeh you can’t beat it. The lifestyle is just so different, they go for a meal with every intention of sitting there rabbitting all night, there must be some absolute bullshit going around these tables, it’s sound.

Scoff over, wine drunk and bullshit spoken, it was time to move on for a bev …… well about fifty yards to a Karaoke bar at the top of Mullberry street, and bouncing it was too. Mark Platt from .tv was in there along with the media pack, both local and national, so I had a couple of bevs with Mark. Its amazing how little Americans seem to know about the world outside the USA but it does seem to be the case, everyone you speak to seems to know London and Paris but they think they are next to each-other and that everyone knows everyone else there, “Do you know Jimmy Jones, he lives in London?” So when a couple of nice but dim looking young American ladies sat near us it was time for the legendary Maca charm (for charm read lies) to come to the fore:

“Where are you from”

“Liverpool, the capital of England”

“Oh is it”

I couldn’t fucken believe it, how thick are these people?

“Yeah, 28 million live there”

“28 million? That’s bigger than Texas”

“Yeah, I know”

Thick bastards! Eventually, after a few more exaggerations and out and out lies they got on to the fact that we were taking the piss and fucked off with a cob on.  We staggered out of there in the early hours before heading back to Maca’s and Rocky’s for a couple of nightcaps.

Sunday was rough, very rough, so I didn’t go far at all. I let the others do the sightseeing and I popped round to Maca’s bar to watch Arsenal against Ajax on the telly, rough as fuck, to be honest. Mind you New York on a Sunday isn’t all it could be, not a patch on James Street if you ask me - “The City that never sleeps”- my arse, it snores its head off on a Sunday. Bleaker Street, East Village, Soho all the same, dead, I even had an early night, about 3am.

After my early night, I was raring to go Monday, up the Empire State by 9am in the morning then down the riverfront where I ran into Evel Kneivel’s lad and up to Central Park. As any scouser would, we headed of course, for the Dakota buildings followed by Strawberry Fields where we had a bit of a doss on the benches, some of the messages on the benches are very moving and left me with a good feeling about the proposed ‘garden of remembrance’ at Anfield when the new stadium is build. I don’t know how it will work but the benches certainly seems a good idea, as do the dedications. When my granddad died we scattered his ashes at the Kop end, as have many others, and I would love to be able to put some sort of message in the proposed garden.

As we sat on the benches one young lad walked up and took his guitar out, before some fuckin big topless grock, with a scar that ran from the base of his spine to the top of his neck, came over to him and told him to put it away. It is classed a quiet area and I just felt a bit sorry for the lad, he had obviously travelled a long way and I could only picture he was gonna play ‘Imagine’ and not ‘Johnny be Good.’ The lad was obviously upset about it, while I could help but feel that the grock was just being a bit of a bully.

I was sitting in the gardens at Strawberry Fields when the immortal line came bounding out from down the road “Now then Maca” as only a scouser can shout it. I always find it hilarious the number of strange places you can run in to auld mates and here was a mucker from Netherton walking through Central Park with his wife. They had been over for a few days but the luggage had gone missing on the plane. Another mate had been on the plane with them when the gear had gone missing - “I’m not arsed about my clothes, but if they’ve lost the Holt flag I’ll get hung when I get home!”

It was off into the park and then a few afternoon jars before back the hotel to get changed to go for a top-notch scran. “Where shall we go first?” - “Not arsed, dya fancy getting out of Manhatten?”

Now that was a mistake, but not as big a mistake as the suggestion of “Lets go to Brooklyn, and we’ll come back over the Brooklyn bridge.” I grew up in Kirkby during the era when there were loads of those docu-type things about “the roughest area in Britain” so I’ve always treated such things as a bit of a joke. In fact I usually enjoy going to areas where they are supposed to rough from south London through to the North East and Glasgow, I usually find that you can have a laugh in these places.

We got off the subway at DeKalb and walked across to a shopping centre, Fuller Street. Rough as arseholes, wasn’t it, every c*nt staring right at you and walking up behind you, we stood out like a boil on a supermodels nose, still keep your nerve, keep your head up, show them your not scared. “Where’s there a bar mate” - might as well have been talking to a monkey on the moon, fuckinhell they must have thought we were moon-men, pair of kex n shoes on when every other c*nt in the road had baseball boots n shorts. There’s a bizzy, ask him for a bar, the look on his face was a picture, he just couldn’t believe it “go down the bottom of there and turn right, if you want one!” Not that we stood out that much, but in a couple of miles of chocka streets I didn’t see another white face.

We found the bar, the B&K lounge, the barmaid was great, she didn’t flinch, as the couple at the bar just stared over, “Four Budweisers please love”. Some women walked in looking like she was looking for her next rock, followed by a lad bouncing around on his mobile phone, it was like something from a film, just couldn’t keep a straight face. The c*nt on the phone had me on tenterhooks trying to work out what he was saying, when a black fella, about fifty and a bit worse for wear walked over to us at the bar “Where are you from?”

“Liverpool in England mate, just finished work?”

“No I don’t work, I was in the American Airforce, but I’ve finished now and they won’t give me a pension”

Now I just didn’t imagine Tom Cruise in a gaff like this once he finished his stint as top gun, it just didn’t strike me that way. Then everyone else in the bar got together and walked out the door, the barmaid and a piss head excepted, enough to make a paranoid character weep. They were only going for a smoke, but that didn’t click in at first - when at the window, our mate, the bizzy appeared. I don’t know if he was checking on us, or what, but it did seem that way, he ran a small machine over a barcode on the window of the boozer and things just seemed even more surreal. We decided not to hang around too long and jumped a cab back to Manhattan - “Nice here innit mate?” as the driver just stared - “Just go across the bridge and down third mate.”

I understand that the Beckham’s first born was apparently conceived in this suburb of NYC and I will be forever haunted by the thought of the skinny bastard and soft shite stumbling over a knee-trembler in the backroom of the B & K Lounge after Tom Cruise had been entertaining them with the tales of his days in the force.

Brooklyn, nah I’d give it a miss.

We’d made our mind up to have a nice scran on the Monday so we’d booked Frankie & Johnny Steak House in the theatre district. Within about five minutes of being in the resteraunt we had discovered that the waiter was a Steaua fan, shocked at how well we knew Bucharest - “Liverpool fans aren’t we mate, we rule the world ya know?”

“What dya recommend?” He recommended the rib-eye with just sides between us coz they were too big - “How would you like it”

“Pull the horns out and wipe its arse mate!”

He wasn’t joking, the thing was as big as your head, no messing, it was fucken huge - it’d feed a family of five in the beefeater at switch island, no danger. What’s so fucken funny about this city is that everything has to be so big - look at the size of the buildings, the sarnies, the hotels everything has to massive. It's even funnier when you see the size of every scran you order and every bar, shop and restaurant advertises ‘Atkins alternatives’, even these have to be massive. Mac fucken Donalds, for fuck sake, responsible for half the fat bastards in Britain is advertising their Atkins range, it's just hilarious - get every c*nt on a diet and close the whole bastard chain down!

Tuesday - Matchday, so it’s the usual routine bevvy - match - bevvy - fall over - bed – headache. The Statue of Liberty was opening for the first time since 9-11 and the lads wanted to do that, I could be arsed to be honest, I just knew it’d be chocka and I wanted to go over to Queens and have a jar with Hogo, so I had an extra hour in bed, before going for a stroll. In every bar and on every street you walk down in Manhatten there are stupid twats who appear to be talking to themselves with these cordless mobile phone hands free things, its totally un-nerving, the amount of times I turned round and said “what”. Geta  grip will yers.

Half way down 31st street came the cry “Now then!” and that was that, straight in Blarney rock with three lads from Kenny, followed up by a jar in Jack Demseys and then the Blarney Stone before a cab across to Queens, fuckinhell these cabs take their time, they just sit in traffic all fucken day. The cabbie was from Ghana, and the best I met in my time in New York, he just got onto my lies and taking the piss straight away, he pulled out a bible from the glove compartment - “You need this!”   

“No mate, it is, its massive Liverpool, ‘bout 28 million and thirty thousand taxis, it’s the capital of Europe you know”

He just started laughing and taking the piss back, couldn’t drive but what dya expect from a New York cabbie, at least he had a sense of humour. Said he was gonna move to Liverpool coz it was a ‘millionaire’s paradise’ you with all the yachts in the marina at the Pier Head and those just down the road at Monaco which is just past Otterspool prom, don’t know where he was getting his info from!

He dropped us off on Queens Boulevard at a nice boozer. One thing I found about Queens was that the bars were more like traditional pubs in what is a very Irish area. The first pub we walked in greeted us with a supermodel behind the bar, legs up to her neck, blond hair down to her arse, a Dublin accent to boot, who had just split up with her Man United boyfriend before moving to the states three weeks earlier. With the Kenny lads throwing in their best blag, I could not believe she could resist it, it was obvious her guard was dropping, when one of the lads mentioned:

“All the Man United players were down Bleaker Street the other night”

“Shit you’re joking aren’t ya, and I was out round here, I always go down there on a Friday, shit, I could have bagged myself a footballer”

The face was a picture, distorted with thoughts of gold-digging running round the mind like a hamster on a wheel……….”shit”

Queens was good, the bars were sound, and we hit a few as we made our way up towards Flynn’s Inn where I had arranged to meet a few more lads. Flynn’s Inn is run by a Scouser and the bar was full of match goers, he’d put on a coach and a scran for all the lads, so he couldn’t be faulted. Well if he could it was for putting too much ale on the coach. There were thirty odd people on the coach, with thirty odd crates of lager for a journey that wasn’t gonna take long. He also put a couple of bins on, filled to the brim with ice to keep the lager cold, oh yeah and threw in a barman too, to make everything went all right.

Mind you he wasn’t alone in his generosity, they were pouring free ale in the car park at the ground anyway. There were plenty of familiar faces in the car park, as everyone got a bit more pissed, mind you, I was more than a bit pissed by this stage anyhow.

The stadium had all the usual flags but was more than a bit empty, I reckon it would provide a decent atmosphere when full. The stewards were given two important duties make sure that nobody was smoking and most importantly make sure nobody has a video camera. I think Rafa was worried that other clubs may get a glimpse of the new improved Biscan and try to tempt him away with offers of fame in fortune in other parts of the world. When Sarah quizzed the steward as to why she couldn’t use her video camera he came back with an informative “I don’t know really”. Obviously been well briefed this stewards.

I hadn’t seen any of the lads I travelled over with anywhere by the time the game kicked off. The Reds went behind before Djibril equalised from a position that looked miles offside, we then went down the other end to watch the second half before being told by another Steward doing a great job that we could not enter a completely empty section of the stadium because our ticket was for a ‘different section’, the knob. Not to be thwarted we jibbed into the back row and watched the second half from there as Michael Owen did the usual and grabbed a late winner.

News of the coach and Queens had spread like wildfire. The coach home was mobbed, three on every seat and a crowd down the isle, before Bucko took charge of the singing on the mike - “Well every other Saturday is my half day off” and the like were abound. The ham shanks just looked on in amazement, they couldn’t believe it.

Jockey took the mike and a new song was born, to the tune of the all time classic ‘I’ve never been to me’ by Charlene came

Well We’ve been to Nice and We’ve been to Greece   
                   And we won the treble in Rome
Yeah we won in Roma and Barcelona
                   And we never Walked alone
We’ve been to everywhere
                   …………..While the toffees stayed at home

It was quickly taken up by the rest of the coach and will undoubtedly make an appearance on some train home this season, if it doesn’t make it to Austria.

There were some drunken Scousers making their way round Queens that night, not least myself, talking shite to anyone who’d care to listen. I hadn’t been over to that side before but would recommend it to anyone else who was in New York.

When I woke the next morning “Where were you’se Darren”

“Don’t ask!”

Well its become a bit of a fashion statement in recent years for scousers to go to Euro aways and not go the game, real ‘terrace chic’, usually led by the most bladdered of the bladdered, but I couldn’t believe they’d gone to New York and not gone the game.

“Go ‘ed”

“Well you know when you said you were going to Queens”


“Well by the time we’d done everything we were doing, it was getting on, so we jibbed going the bar and headed straight for the stadium”


“Well you said the coach was taking us the game from Queens, so we went to Queens and then to the stadium”

The stupid bastards had gone to Shea Stadium instead of the Yankees stadium and ended up watching the game on the telly, a final twist on a fine week. A week that was an absolute ball, if we’re there again next year give it a go, yer’ll have a ball!

© john mac 2004

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