jeff winter
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23rd April 2014

Monday and another trip up to Sunderland to see Happy Days the musical. Tuesday and looking after Oliver rather than up the road to Ibrox.

Some cheeky "B", jokingly I hope, doubted my commitment to the cause on Follow Follow by suggesting I was finding an excuse not to go to the game.

I think the majority know that the thousands of miles I do every season watching both Rangers and Boro proves without doubt my loyalty and commitment.

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The trip to Merseyside on Wednesday was much easier than the futile one a few weeks ago, when after being stuck on the M62 for five hours the game was postponed due to high winds.

I received a phone call from a former colleague on the Premier League and apart from a general catch up he informed me that Lee Probert had just been announced as this year's Cup Final referee. Amazing - not a lad who I know, I've seen him have decent games but he's certainly not someone I rate highly.

In my day he would certainly have struggled to get on the list let alone referee a Cup Final!

jeff winter
Our view from the temporary seating at the East End of the ground on Saturday afternoon.

I arrived in Liverpool just after 4.00pm so decided to go to Anfield before Goodison. The memorial was awash with floral tributes and scarves.

Hillsborough has personal memories for me. I'd just been appointed as fourth official for the 1989 Cup Final days before the disaster and I reffed at Anfield against Aston Villa in the tenth anniversary of the tragedy.

I know that politics and controversy has shrouded that sad day ever since but the fact that 96 football supporters lost their lives at a time when we had all experienced the weekly crushes and surges on open terraces makes you think : "There but for the grace of God".

jeff winter
Friday afternoon at Musselburgh and Lady Ibrox is fit and raring to go.

Arrived at Goodison and spoke on the phone to friends up in Stornaway who want me to return to the islands to do another evening at the Rangers Supporters club and also attend a charity event. Great people and I hope that we can finalise matters.

I used to love reffing at both of the Liverpool grounds either side of Stanley Park; great atmospheres with true football people. As I arrived it was like being in a time warp with so many familiar faces and a genuine warm welcome.

Everton are a true family club and many of the staff have been there for years. The first former player I met was big Duncan and we exchanged Rangers related news before I headed for the sponsor's suite. I was to do the pre and post match lounges with snooker legend and massive Everton fan John Parrott.

First of all I went with the sponsors to the home dressing room where I met long serving kit man Jim and again memories were exchanged. Pitch side and the players were arriving, first Seamus Coleman and one of the staff said to him: "You won't know Jeff, you weren't born when he was reffing!!" But he did and it was nice to meet him but not do much so the next player to arrive.

He certainly recognised me and commented on the fact that I was a massive Rangers fan before passing a derogatory comment about the club's current situation. Obviously he remembered some comments I had made about his propensity to have a low centre of gravity when he played on the dark side of Glasgow. So no pleasantries exchanged with Aiden McGeady!!

jeff winter
Lady Ibrox returns to be unsaddled after a very disappointing and very costly run.

Lovely meal then off to do the first two lounges, I was working with Pete Emmett whom I love working with on the circuit. He, along with fellow comedian Jamie Sutherland, does a brilliant job on match days at Goodison.

In the first lounge bumped into Andy Nichols, author and famous Everton hooligan whom I had worked for in the past. He promised to get me to his bar to do a night before the World Cup. Good bit of banter in both lounges before the game.

Took my seat in director's box in front of a packed and expectant Goodison Park. Palace had sold all their tickets and were as noisy as ever.

The minute's applause was emotional with the grief bypassing any local rivalries. Palace surprised me playing the ball around, unlike the presumed Pulis style. They deservedly won the game as Everton, with perhaps the wrong starting line-up, struggled to contain the vibrant visitors. McGeady only lasted till half time!

jeff winter
Bet the camera men at Stenny were happy this game wasn't in December!!

Game over and it was initially thought that the fans in the remaining two lounges would perhaps be too disappointed to have guest speakers so John Parrot declined. The hosts thought that we should still visit the rooms.

I agreed and they were brilliant, more good banter and met up with a few firmer players and speaking circuit colleagues Ian Snodin, Duncan McKenzie and also Jim Pearson and Mark Higgins.

Great to see Joe Royle, one of football's gentlemen and up there with Sir Bobby Robson in my book. Also got the chance to have a chat with Chairman Bill Kenright who whilst gutted by the result was still his usual charming self.

A great night and thanks to the plugs Pete gave me, one which I am sure will lead to more work in the future. Yes the night was to a certain extent about networking but it was great to see so many familiar friendly faces. Memories rekindled of a massive and enjoyable chapter of my life.

jeff winter
As usual Rangers away following easily outnumbered the home support as Stenhousemuir enjoyed another bumper pay day.

I had decided to drive home rather than stay in Lancashire overnight for Thursday's gig at Preston but reflected on previous stop overs on Merseyside and the sight of so many of the lovely Scouse females, perhaps another wrong decision from the Ref!!

Back home for 1.00am and a few hours kip before getting sorted out for a long weekend.

My son Mark came across for breakfast so it would have been rude not to prepare the full works before setting off back across the Pennines to Preston. Took the shorter scenic route across the A59 and got to my hotel to prepare for the night.

I was working with old pal Gary Skyner and the venue was a small club house at a cricket and sports club. In house gig in a room that held less than a hundred but at least that meant they kept the bar takings which were going to be considerable.

jeff winter
Stenhousemuir kick off as Rangers look to keep their 1005 away record going in the penultimate away game of the season.

Brilliant audience and a great night, shite PA but the room was small enough for my gob to carry without the mike anyway.

Throughout the meal kept checking my phone to monitor the market for Lady Ibrox's odds for Friday's race at Musselburgh. She'd opened at an unbelievably generous 12/1 which myself and no doubt other syndicate members had snapped up, Being tipped in the press will have helped as well cos she was quickly shortened to 9/1, then 8/1, 6/1, 5/1 second favourite. That doesn't mean she'll win but I certainly have got the value. It could be a very nice birthday present, fingers crossed.

As is often the case the organisers, being relieved that the night is going well, start to relax by drinking copious amounts of alcohol. We are given our wages, only they give us the wrong ones, embarrassing as Gary Skyner gets mine which is a much larger amount than he's expecting!

Confusion continues with me conducting a very successful auction. The organisers sat there in awe and disbelief as the bids rolled in. Pity one of them didn't think to keep a note of who had bid for what. They'll have fun when they sober up trying to piece things together and remember who paid for what.

Hopefully with a small friendly compact group commonsense will prevail and they will get their monies to, would you believe, purchase a new carpet for the clubhouse!

Cracking people though and left for my hotel and got to bed by 1.30am. Poured my first drink of the night and of my birthday; no doubt I'd be getting a few more in Fife later on in the day.

jeff winter
Now excuse me please if I don't understand fashion nowadays, being an old fart, but this just didn't look right and judging by the looks this "Rocket" was getting many other Bears agreed with me. Maybe he'd put his younger brothers trewsers on by mistake!

Friday and up early for the 200 mile drive up to Musselburgh. In the main my birthday was going to be shite. Highlight was probably a text from Sam with a picture of Oliver and a little message from my Grandson.

Lovely day mind you as I cut across towards Edinburgh through Biggar and other picturesque small towns and villages. Stopped in Gretna and bought present for my supposedly called wife. Think it should have been the other way round, but things like that don't happen anymore.

Arrived at Musselburgh and met my fellow syndicate members and we were all set. Mixed fortunes in early races but our jockey Sylvester Da Sousa rode a blinder to win on Smooth Talking Rascal. He, however, missed the break on Lazarus Bell our other stable horse and admitted that he should have won. So he owed the trainer one when he got on board Lady Ibrox.

We were all on with some serious punts and just couldn't see her being out of the prize money at worst. What happened next summed up racing.

As usual she pinged the stalls but then when asked the question just didn't respond, running flat and trailing in ninth of the ten runners. So much for a birthday present!!

jeff winter
Another angle, showing no co-ordination with socks and shoes from different makers but at least fresh air got to the ankles!

Where do we go now? Horses are strange creatures and she could have fallen out of love with racing. Hopefully Alan can get her back on track!!

Off up to Fife and a casino night for the supporter's bus. Good banter as usual but as the main lads were organising they were off the drink. Magic, my birthday and they are staying sober!!

Good tales though as the weekly five a side had seen Pele nutmegged by 71 year old former Bear Dave Smith. Evidently he'd found it easier to do that than run round him!! Few vodkas to round off not the best birthday I've ever had but at least it ended amongst friends.

jeff winter
Wednesday afternoon and a visit to Anfield on my way to Goodison Park.

Are you planning a Speakers Evening or fundraiser? You can be assured that as well as speaking I will give maximum help to fundraising on the evening with my auctioneering skills, contact me regarding availability on

Just a thought, nowadays many smaller organisations have stopped doing Sportman's evenings mainly due to the economic recession and the increasing costs. If your club doesn't have the numbers to support the traditional speakers evening then why not book me for a one man show, I regularly do these, my normal After Dinner slot followed by a Q & A session and fundraising activities. I can assure you there is more than enough content to fill the night.

jeff winter
The players of Everton and Crystal Palace join in the minute's applause at Goodison to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

Saturday and off to the match we go, firstly though back to the hall that we'd been in last night to move the unsold booze. Great set up, you take your own drinks and therefore keep the profits from the bar. With the way the locals drink up here that always ensures a very significant return.

Then off into Leven to the Cally for breakfast, some say the most important meal of the day, in Fife it's quite often the only meal of the day as food isn't allowed to get in the way of drinking!!

Talking of which, as soon as brunch was eaten we went to Tam's Bar for pre match drinks then packed the cars for the 50 minute journey to Falkirk. Parked up close to the ground and whilst there was as usual a very large Rangers following there was an abundance of spare tickets which enabled us to upgrade from West Terrace to the temporary seating at the East end of the ground.

jeff winter
Thursday morning and my son Mark likes to come over for breakfast, I wonder why? Duck eggs form the stables!

After Friday's disaster with our horse my vow to stop gambling didn't last long. A both teams to score treble failed as West Ham let me down. I had a couple of punts on the nags and was able to watch the races on the phone, my viewing and listening was disturbed though as the Bears won a penalty and scored two goals during the races I was interested in. Both my horses finished second!! Really must stop gambling!!

jeff winter
Like Grandpa like Grandson!! Oliver wears his colours with pride!

Rangers won in a canter whilst elsewhere Boro's remote chance of getting into the playoffs died against a Millwall side scrapping to avoid relegation and the chances of Hartlepool dropping out of the Football League with a second successive relegation increased as they were ranked at Burton Albion. Monday's game at the Vic is going to be vital for them.

Back to Leven and instead of heading straight to the bar I went back to Scott's to freshen up and watched Chelsea lose to the Mackems. Unlike a lot of Rangers fans I have little regard for the Londoners and thta is due in the main to the antics of their manager. I will cover this greater in other articles for the site, but let's just say I am delighted that he looks likely not to manage a title winning side this season.

jeff winter
Across Stanley Park to a real old fashioned football ground Goodison Park, the home of Champions League chasing Everton.

Back into Leven to McPhails for the start of a long night. It was quiet to start with and we had a long discussion about Rangers, football and life in general. This included a long look at Scott's varied love life and his mathematical analogies to his courting techniques.

He compared his selection of females to a triangle and it's very interesting and educational. Imagine a triangle with all your female friends lined up inside the three sided object. The first or bottom layer of not always lovely lassies are the ones that you know can be relied upon for no nonsense regular and no strings horizontal pleasure.

The second layer is those that you might actually take out in private, say to the cinema on Orange Wednesdays. Up a layer and the next group can be used for even a meal or trip out in public.

We are now rising significantly and the next smaller group include those who can be taken as a significant other to family type functions, weddings, christenings and the like. We are now rising to the very top of the triangle and the very top layer includes the like of Lady that whilst not ever aspiring to being marriage material must have one significant feature, namely she must be "A-cute" one!!! There had to be a punch line.

jeff winter
Sadly the florists in Liverpool always benefit as the tragedy of 1989 is remembered and never will be forgotten.

With tales like this it must be obvious that the vodka was flowing. There were only five of us but the first twenty pound contribution into the kitty didn't last that long, the second even shorter and the final ten pound top of just about saw us through to the 1.00am closure.

jeff winter
Saturday night in Molly's and Comrie tries his look with the Krankies. I told you there are mighty strange people out in Leven!

It's a while since my last night out in Leven and perhaps I had forgotten just how strange it can be. We nipped to Molly's to enjoy/endure the karaoke and witness some sights rarely seen outside a zoo. The bar was filled with sights that are hard to describe, to say that we were probably the most normal people in there tells a story in itself. All ages shapes and sizes were trying to audition for Scotland's Got No Talent!!

In fairness the hardy souls that braved the mike weren't bad but some of the bystanders looked like potential sex register candidates, special needs patients and quite a few on the waiting list for mental care homes. I swear you'd have fancied Susan Boyle ahead of some of the locals!! I'm not fucking joking.

As the night progressed I played my usual game in Leven by looking at lady's shoes and trying to memorise the footwear of females as it would help me the next morning when said stilettos were at the foot of the stairs as the owner was being entertained in Scott's room. I am fairly sure that these girls were from the bottom row of the triangle.

jeff winter
Birthday morning and Sam sends me a photo of my Grandson with a little message from him. Brought a tear to my eye.

A few hours kip then another hearty Scottish breakfast before the long drive home. Woke up to a quiet house then the penny dropped Scott handy got out of taxi with me when we got back home. So instead of guess the shoes I was Home Alone. Obviously Rangers have performed better away from Ibrox this season and as we all know the away days are better and more exciting than home fixtures, so he'd kept his 100% record up. He limped in soon after I had finished the toilet roll in the bathroom, standards are slipping at Hotel Kes.

Pele was onboard too as we headed to the local driving range for breakfast!! Scott was perky after his three points on the road but still susceptible to the regular piss take. We ordered breakfast and he threw a tenner in my direction for his contribution. I paid in full for our scran and gave him his money back.

"What's that for?" he enquired. I replied that the waitress wouldn't take his tenner because it was a dud!! He wasn't happy and spent the next few minutes checking the note before storming off to confront her. He was met by a confused waitress who explained that she didn't know what he was talking about. "Bastards", he was heard to mutter as he returned red faced to the table.

Handshakes and into the car for the journey home, going past Musselburgh resisting the temptation to go racing, instead ploughed home to pick up Oliver who I was minding for the night.

Motor Neurone Disease is a debilitating illness that took the life of former Boro hero Willie Maddren and recently former Rangers star Fernando Ricksen has been diagnosed with the same disease.

When I was refereeing I was well known for sporting a goatee beard. I brought it back during the month of November to try and raise funds for the society that works so hard to help people suffering from the disease. Please help me help them.


After looking after Oliver overnight Monday will depend on what time he goes back to his parents, if before 2.00pm I'll go and watch Hartlepool's vital game at the Vic. The rest of the week is up in the air at the moment until I know if Blue Sea of Ibrox is running on Tuesday or not then next weekend which game I'm going to is yet to be confirmed. Let's see what evolves!!

Have a good week.

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