Dripping Yarns with David Arnold: Saturday’s Rooks a soar subject

ONE thing that certainly caught the imagination of kids at the Pan on Saturday was the zany half-time penalty shoot-out featuring a Leprechaun in goal in front of a packed Philcox Stand.

I can exclusively reveal that the Leprechaun’s alter ego was a very brave Barry Haffenden who is more regularly seen manning the club shop on matchdays.

I caught up with Barry at the Lewes Ladies game on the Sunday following the St Patrick’s Day excitement. He told me: “I thought it would be a bit of fun to face a few penalties from the kids. Save some, let some in. But I couldn’t believe it when 72 shots came in my direction!

“It was relentless. I must have lost at least five pounds in weight as that Leprechaun suit was as hot as hell.

“Still, I did enjoy it as did the kids. Next year I will apply to the Guinness Book of Records to see if we can set a world record at the Dripping Pan.”

At Wednesday’s game against Leatherhead, I noticed that Saturday’s green theme had changed to red. Not least in the deployment of a red football. This was in response to a league request that all clubs help highlight Sports Relief 2012.

“The Sports Relief logo also featured on the very striking match poster. Good to see such “joined up” thinking going on in the national sporting community.

Returning to the Lowestoft match, the outcome confirmed something all football fans recognise but dread.

That is that whenever your a goal ahead but concede an equaliser in the last few seconds of a game, then the result will always feel like a defeat rather than a point gained.

I blame the birds. In the first half our dear tenants, the Rooks, were much in evidence, no doubt encouraged by the fans with their rousing refrain: “Oh when the Rooks… are swooping low, etc, etc.”

But in the second half it was more a case of the Rooks have left the stadium. Clearly not having grasped that it’s a game of two halves, they flew off – maybe seeking worms elsewhere when our very own ‘Worms’ and his team still needed their good luck charms.

Then, to my dismay, some seagulls arrived.

Given we were playing the Trawler Boys, could there possibly be a more ominous omen? An equaliser, I fear, became inevitable.

Bizarrely, even before that happened, I found myself thinking of Eric Cantona, the talismanic footballer whose amazing skill earned him the lifelong adoration of Manchester United supporters.

Yet I always remember him more for that moment of madness at Crystal Palace in 1995 after he’d been shown a red card. On his way off, Cantona was accosted by an irate Palace supporter in the stands.

Enraged, the Frenchman deftly delivered a drop kick. Facing the press later, an enigmatic Cantona stated: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think that sardines will be thrown into the sea.”

The allegory is that Cantona was the trawler, the seagulls were journalists and the sardines were the headline-making quotes or actions that the pressmen wanted to draw from the errant footballer.

Here are two more Cantona bon mots that make for an amusing juxtaposition.

Firstly: “When you are submerged by emotion I think it’s very important to express it – which doesn’t necessarily mean hitting someone.”

Followed by: “My best moment in football? I have had a lot of good moments but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan.”

See today’s Sussex Express for a fantastic piture of a disheveled Lewes Leprechaun (aka Barry Haffenden) having faced 72 spot kicks at half time on Saturday, and Leo Boyes, son of Lewes programme editor and photographer James, taking a penalty kick last Saturday.