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No. 2. Telling Dereks Apart

After the euphoria of seven days ago, I returned to earth with a bump this week. Maybe it was the rule change that allowed shooting outside of the penalty area or simply the fact I was wearing my purple City away top and my team was fair-littered with Gasheads, but I hardly seen the ball up front and neither did my strike partner, Losing Derek, in a five nil defeat to the white shirts. Between us we mustered one effort on goal when LD walloped the bar as our team seemed to over-egg the freedom to now shoot from distance instead of getting the ball into the box as was previously the case. The scoreline NIL tells the success of this new approach.

Rich Wolf scored a well executed second half hattrick, after a comedy goal in which two of our defenders each cleverly dummied a slow grasscutter cross from Wayne Steppings to completely fool our keeper as it trickled across the line to give the whites a two nil halftime lead.

Back to my strike partner. My girlfriend thinks we are mean to call him Losing Derek. But he is fine with it and even titles himself that on our What’s App group. He acquired the nickname after he had been with us a few months back in about 2017. We had four Dereks. Unlike our absent, on health grounds, midfielder Steve Prince who has two Daleks he bought at auction about forty years ago and keeps in his garage. Technically we have three Dereks and one Derrick. Now, footballers being a breed of their own we don’t seem to have grasped that there’s another way to differentiate between them by using their surnames. No, us footballers need an even simpler system to avoid confusion. We employ nicknames. Actually, epithets. Therefore we have Mars Bar Derrick, because he always presents everyone with a Mars Bar after matches (although in recent months I have noticed due to the economic climate this has been downscaled to a jaffa cake), Rovers Derek, because he is a Gashead and until earlier this season worked for them in a voluntary capacity and Losing Derek so called because the first seventeen matches he played in our big Friday games he was never on the winning side. On the eighteenth occasion when he did at last triumph, there was much jubilation as he was chaired from the pitch by winners and losers alike. When a bad run like that finishes it transcends one’s own feelings about the match and one is simply happy for a fellow player.

Obviously, he became known as Losing Derek at some point during that initial bad run and the name stuck. As happens in football, the losing and non-winning streak was followed by a handful of consecutive wins for LD and in the pub, where several of us usually congregate to engage in post match analysis while enjoying a pint, Losing Derek even optimistically suggested that he should now be called Winning Derek. But we weren’t having any of that nonsense. He was and has remained Losing Derek to us. I did once offer the hope that we might reconsider, if his winning streak continued, and in the fashion of the late pop star Prince call him ‘The Player Formerly Known As Losing Derek’.

Others in the pub give us funny looks when we call him Losing Derek, indeed they seem more bemused by the fact he doesn’t get to his feet and bop us all one. This was especially the case when our sadly injury prone Spanish striker (although he insists on being called Catalonian) Juan called out from the bar to our table through a fairly packed pub, ‘Hey Loser Derek, is it a pint or a half you want?’ What makes this all the more humorous is that Juan is a man of the cloth. There was every possibility a member of his congregation was present that day and witnessed this apparent put down and has got it about that Juan would be a hypocrite if he ever tells the story of the Good Samaritan in any of his sermons because if he had been around then and came across the stricken traveller he would’ve been putting the boot in as well.

The observant amongst you will have noticed that only three Dereks were given epithets. This is a bone of contention to Derek O’Connor who feels aggrieved that he has been spared this. I have dabbled with the idea of calling him Epithetless Derek but that would be a misnomer.

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