Paul Lafferty’s outrageous new football book

by JONATHAN QUAYLE HIGGINS IN LONDON

I had the pleasure of meeting South African trainer Paul Lafferty in the Red Lion Pub at Newmarket back in 2009. We were standing outside enjoying a pint in the company of Mick Channon, someone called Mytill Aboud (said to be an Egyptian cross-dressing jockey); a pleasant, rotund chap called Phil Georgiou, who runs the Let’s Go Travel agency; and a Hungarian drunk named Clive Yauwpoos.

‘Laff’ is a good horseman, fanatic Spurs football supporter, an avid reader, a devout vegetarian and a man of many words, perhaps the funniest guy I’ve ever come across. He doesn’t crack jokes, but comes up with tales and expressions so hilarious it makes you bend over with laughter. On that night, Mick tripped over the picket fence and almost fell into a bush as he doubled over; I spat half of my Stella over the door of the phone booth outside the door. Phil dislodged half a banger and some mash and even Mytil, a recluse of reserved laughter, giggled merrily under his breath. Yauwpoos, too, howled with delight.

Later, we were all thrown out of the Rose & Mango Curry Restaurant because of too much laughter – that must’ve been a first – but also because Laff compared the proprietors to ‘The Kumars at No 1′ and let them know as much. The plus here was that Mytill gave me half of his Lamb Vindaloo as a take-away as he wasn’t able to finish his dish before the chuck-out.

Today is Laff’s 66th birthday (5 May) and since I know he reads this column, I’d like to wish him a Happy Birthday, also happy Rosh Hosh-Mubarak or whatever the fuck they call the religious celebration today, and thank him for the copy of his just-released book received in my mailbox.

Some will know that Mr. Lafferty was a talented midfielder before he became a trainer and in his book, “Play The Laff” he recounts some side-splitting stories from his amateur career with Wanderers Club and his professional career at Durban City.

Below, an extract from a chapter in which Laff recalls a game between the Durban clubs Escombe and Hillary. (Note for UK readers: “braai” is South African for barbeque; “boerewors” is a thick South African sausage containing minced meat and pork, grilled at barbeques).

“In the mid-1980s, before the receipt of a much-needed cash injection from generous benefactor Barry ‘Ken Tucky’ Beaton, the club was financially in what can only be described as dire straits. Around this time, during a home game, a Hillary player was scathingly cut down on the cricket pitch and was physically incapable of being assisted off the field.

“As the impoverished club could simply not afford the luxury of a stretcher at the time, the long braai grill from Dumpy Bend, still sizzling from that afternoon’s overdone boerewors, was retrieved, and used to evacuate the ailing player from the field of play. By the time he had successfully been moved to the change room, he was covered in grease, reeking of boerewors and chops, and suffering from an acutely braised backside. When asked how he was feeling, he replied, ‘medium to well’‘”

Play The Laff’ can be ordered directly from the author himself, on mobile (+27) 83 779 1311. He’ll sign it if you do. Or mail him direct on paul@laffertyracing.co.za

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