A funny thing happened on the way to Upton Park

Cod Almighty | Article

by Tony Barker

21 August 2016

Tony remembers how his Uncle Les's quick wit spared him a geography lesson...

Hands up – who thinks football is funny? Well, my hand is up, though this time the humour didn't come from the pitch, but off it in the form of my Uncle Les, brother Kev, me, and Lolla, who was Uncle Les's neighbour.

Lolla had very kindly offered to drive us to Upton Park to see Town play West Ham United in the League Cup in 1996. Lolla had purchased a thing called a satellite navigation aid and was keen to put it through its paces by taking mostly A-roads to London. Kev and I were happy in the back with a few tinnies for company, while Uncle Les rode shotgun in the front.

The usual conversations were in full swing. What the score would be? Who would score for Town? How many supporters would Town take? I came to realise that Lolla had not said a word since leaving Grimsby. I also noticed that we were passing through a place called Market Deeping. 

"Hey, what a name for a place. How unique is that?" I said, in between slurps of Carlsberg Export.

And then it happened: Lolla spoke. We were about to get a geography lesson.

"It's not unique at all," Lolla said in a monotone. "There's loads of Deepings. There's Deeping St. James, Deeping St. Nicholas, West Deeping, Deeping Gate, Deeping Fen." Lolla then took pause for breath, but you could tell that it was only to gather more Deepings from his memory.

I shot brother Kev one of those 'oh shit' glances; it seemed we'd hitched a ride with an encyclopaedic schoolmaster. But as Lolla started again, cometh the hour, cometh the man…

"There's Deeping in the Water, Deeping Bartholomew, Deeping Meadow..." and then, with perfect timing, bang in the middle of Lolla's glory, Uncle Les interjected with a pearler: "Deep in shit."

Then followed one of those ever-lasting seconds as the punchline swept home.
Through prism tears of laughter, Kev and I witnessed Uncle Les's shoulders bouncing up and down in the front seat as the three of us became engulfed in an uncontrollable, side-splitting hysteria. Our mirth was enhanced further as Lolla sat stony-faced, unmoved. Not one twitch did we see from him.

But credit where it's due. He may not have shared our humour, but Lolla got us to the game with military precision. We took our places behind the goal with the fantastic throng of Town fans that had made the journey to witness a sparkling display from Brian Laws' team and a 1-1 draw.

And we all know what happened in the replay at Blundell Park don't we? Yes, that's right, Uncle Les and I won the half-time bonanza draw and £200 to share.

Happy days.

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