Sassco on tour. Dave Gourlay puts a downer on everything. 

Six players signed up on the dotted line for France, which was our sixth destination since 2008. The arrangements were a bit more difficult, as the French were being French; laid back, heavily subsidised and not giving a shit.

The beach volleyball team. A first for


Luckily, my message on a forum was spotted by Mel Aldis, a sports/fitness organiser and ex-pat based just outside Nice. The first encounter was going to be beach football, with the second being a “normal” game on 3G. There were changes on the opening game. It was changed to beach volleyball due to the organisers refusing to change the venue. The second game was still on track.

Beach volleyball, with in action.

So, two cars sped down from the North East. Sangha, Ed and Gourlay in one. Cooper, McConville, who shamefully missed his girlfriend’s birthday for the tour, and Dixon, picked up from his health and safety mansion in the sticks, down sheep shagging central.

Dixon and Sangha remember Tim Gillespie, who failed to show again for the tour.Being hit by the heat in Nice meant a quick taxi to the hotel, which, in all honesty, was a bit of a dive compared to the spectacular ones in Düsseldorf and Venice. However, for £31 per night per person, you can’t complain. This was despite squabbling over a plug socket as there were three in the room, including one in the bathroom. There was heated water, Wi-Fi and it was genuinely in the heart of the city, just off the main highway and directly across from a sex shop, which was handy for tea, milk sugar, etc.

We quickly got dressed in our bright red vests and strode down the main street, causing a bit of a stir, as they must have thought the gay pride / village people float was on. We entered the volleyball arena, and despite it being a bit disorganised and a bit chaotic, after a number of training games, we had a competitive game which ended in a 25-19 defeat for Sassco against the Nice team.

We shambled back up the street in our camp outfits and then a shit / piss / shower later, we caught the closest pizza place and had some cheese with some pizza base thrown in for good measure. I made sure I had my UHT milk (from the little old Chinese lady in the tiny shop around the corner) for the late night and early morning cuppa. Most stayed out later and it was on the night time when Gourlay and McConville apparently got tapped up by some prostitutes, who asked them where the best bars are. We later heard that the prostitutes tended to give a free grab of the balls, as that was the signal that they were prostitutes ready for business. But that didn’t happen with Gourlay and McConville. That was probably for two reasons: one - their craic was crap and two - the prostitutes probably thought they were gay.

Next day was an early start, and when McConville went to Dixon, Ed and Gourlay’s room, he was presented with a sight of Dixon doing press ups. Its 30 degree heat man! Quick snacks meant the easy bus journey via tram, to Villefranche, a beautiful, calm city, just outside Nice. The president of the football club kindly opened the gates open for us in the stunning venue, with a view of the Mediterranean. First hiccup was a toilet break. There were no facilities at the ground, so we had to go to the public toilets. McConville wanted a Number 2, but there were no toilet rolls, so I advised him to go and get a tourist pamphlet. He refused and got some baby wipes for €7, the most expensive dump he’ll ever have.

Stunning venue in Villefranche for Sassco v AngloSports.

The game started and the camera was doing its job in picking out McConville’s, opener. The opponents, made up of expats and locals, soon equalised, but we went ahead again. At 2-2 McConville and Gourlay had the expected handbags tiff, which has been brewing since 2008, with both having a hate-hate relationship. The game was effectively sealed when Ed, in the second half, received the ball from Dixon and with his rapidly receding hair gleaming under the layers of sun cream, unleashed a shot from beyond the half way line, having seen the opponent keeper off his line, which rattled the netless goal. McConville, Dixon, Cooper. Front: Cook, Gourlay, Sangha.

Finally we went 6-4 up with the last goal not shown, due to Dixon breathing heavily behind the camera and not paying attention. I actually came on in the second half and snapped at the heels of the opponents, in order to tighten up the defence. So I take full credit for the victory.

17th August 2013
Villefranche, Stade de Football 6 AngloSports 4.

Kevin Cooper
Ed Cook (1)
Paul McConville (1)
Davinder Sangha
Dave Gourlay (2)
Chris Dixon (2) 

It was in a bar across the road after the game for some refreshments, before heading back to Nice and Wayne’s Bar, to catch some football. We used my Dell Windows tablet to catch the dodgy channel to watch the Sunderland AFC game, just in time for Fulham to score before the battery went. We were looked after well in the bar. The food was really good and the Canadian barmaid was borderline flirty and irritating.

I headed back early, and the rest of the lads came in and out. Late on, everyone lost Paul, so Dixon sent him a link to the hotel website, which was useful in showing the hotel facilities, but McConville was still lost, despite finding out the hotel had Wi-Fi and breakfast was €8. McConville then got in touch and said he was outside a bar called “Panda”, which Dixon, being as useful as ever, asked him to how to spell it…

Sunday was an easy breakfast. The McDonald's queue was up to the usual French standard, so I’ll never whinge about the UK queues again. We chose a local place instead. We had the longest bus journey ever to Monaco, the start of which saw a delay as we were waiting for Ed to complete his sun cream / moisturiser regime. On the bus a wifey accosted Gourlay and told him to spend €1.50 more than he had to. It’s always Dave. Popping off the bus, an hour later, we saw the magnificent sight of the Stade Louis II stadium. The best way to describe it is if a stadium was plonked on the top of the Blue car park in the Metrocentre.

Tickets were a bit of a nightmare. The queues were massive. I actually managed to get some tickets for a French couple with their two kids, as you needed ID, and I was the only sensible one with it. However, if they committed a terrorist act in the stadium, guess which mug was up for water boarding. In security, Ed had all his creams taken away and then Gourlay kicked off in the queue, “Ow, man, there’s a fucking queue, for fucks sake. What ya deein.” They all halted and even we shited ourselves.

Game was decent. I took in the surroundings, but Monaco with all their stars, ran out 4-1 winners without looking impressive.

Arriving at Stade Louis II.

We then made the journey back to the train, as the bus was a no go. I used Nokia Maps on my phone and pointed “over there”. We travelled to the harbour area to see where 95% of the world’s wealth was. This was where Dave interrupted an older couple having an argument:

  • Dave: “She’s not happy with you, marra.”
  • Man to Dave: “45 years I’ve had to put up with theeese.”
  • Woman to Dave: “Vous êtes un monstre! UN MONSTRE !”

The abusive text I sent to Dave's phone stealerWe then passed a tourist shop where Dave got a shit snow globe for his wife, to add to the five shit presents from Malta, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Germany. We thought we were heading in the right direction, before Dixon decides to cause a scene, wave his arms and say, “Right lads, where are we trying to get to. Where are we trying to get to?” to which I replied “Fucking Nice; fucking hotel.”

We eventually found the train station, where we weren't sure where to get off. We got off a fair distance from our hotel, before Dave, who was fannying about on his phone, discovered he’d lost it, obviously on the train. So it was a downer after this, when Dave and Ed trailed back along the track, thinking he’d dropped it. What was worse was that he failed to lock it or sync it, so he lost all his rubbish photos. We called it with no answer, but later, when the ringing stopped, I took it on myself to text an abusive message to Dave’s phone. However, the piss taking started approximately 180 minutes after he’d discovered he’d lost it.

  • Dave reply to this text.
  • Dave take a photo
  • Dave, ha ha, ha.
  • Dave, your Fantasy teams has changed. Someone’s just signed Lilian Laslandes.

We had a small snack in the evening, outside a bar round the hotel. Me and Dave got some food, while the rest drank until later. Dave didn’t as he was still a bit depressed. McConville came back into the room late and snored loudly. I, being sex starved all weekend, was tempted to dip my balls into his mouth to change his breathing pattern.

Next day, it was the return. A quick breakfast included croissants and then shopping with Cooper, who was dressed as usual in the latest fashions, sponsored by Argos, Homebase and Adidas.

We were undecided about a taxi back, or the bus. Dave wanted to go to the train station to report his phone, so most then decided to opt for the bus. Dixon, with his millionaire lifestyle and being uncomfortable with the great unwashed, was desperate for a taxi and then began to wave his arms again saying “Again, there’s a lack of communication.” to which I replied, “Yes there is, Dixon. Fucking bus. Number 100 via Witherwack.”

We left him and Paul McConville, who both came sheepishly, muttering about taxis when standing in the sweltering heat. We were right across from another sex shop, but the bus came before a photo opportunity and chance for Dixon to say he told us so.

The team at Leeds-Bradford Airport.

We were dropped off at Terminal 2 and had to hop back to Terminal 1 where Dixon had another flapping manoeuvre again, saying “We can’t take this volleyball through check-in. I need a needle to deflate it.” Relax, Dixon, there’s nothing dangerous in it. It’s just got a Samsung galaxy phone in.

One more priceless moment. Gourlay purchased cigarettes for his missus, before thinking he’d left them upstairs. Jumping up sharply, “Fags! I forgot me fags! Fags!” Before Ed, giving him a few moments, calmly patted his bag saying he had them. I was half tempted to say, “Here’s your phone as well.”

In the end, Dave popped his head on my shoulders, while I patted it saying, “There, there, Dave. Everything’s going to be okay.” Before pausing and saying, “Actually, it’s not going to be okay, is it, Dave. Is it? You had an argument with Paul, and didn’t enjoy the game. You weren’t really impressive at volleyball. You put sugar on your breakfast instead of salt. You got chatted up by prostitutes, before they thought your craic was shite, or you were gay. You got involved in an argument between an old French couple. You shouted at queue jumpers. Brought your wife another crap present. Lost your phone. Your fantasy team’s shite. And you made a fool of yourself by nearly losing your fags. So, no, it’s not going to be okay.”

Sassco on tour, again. Copenhagen in Denmark around July or August 2014.

Mel Aldis' article on Sassco…

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