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Survivor


Skiddaw

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He took a deep breath in and exhaled, somewhat relieved. It was surely the worst stint he had ever had at a club, and the him gathering enough courage to tell his bully Boss that he wanted out was one of the toughest situations he had ever encountered in the Football World.

Yes, that world which is described as the Fountain of Eternal Youth, the Door to Fame, the Best Job in the World, the Stairway to Heaven. A thousand other clichés have been used to describe the game, but nobody in or loosely around Kecskemet had ever walked to Mr. Szaba Conz and told him precisely that: A Game. You could win, you could loose. Hell, the good old rules even permitted a team to draw. But three options were too much for him. The Managing Director of Kecskemeti TE wanted only to win.

Christopher Mamo, the previously-unheard-of Maltese Manager was appointed as Manager of ‘The Purple Squadron’ in June 2004. Just before the start of the Hungarian Div IB campaign, where Kecskemeti were the hot favourites… for the drop.

And so it all began in the Hungarian Summer of 2004, at Kecskemet, precisely in the offices adjacent to the Csabay Geza Koerut, the Stadium the Manager could never really call ‘Home’.

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He took a deep breath in and exhaled, somewhat relieved. It was surely the worst stint he had ever had at a club, and the him gathering enough courage to tell his bully Boss that he wanted out was one of the toughest situations he had ever encountered in the Football World.

Yes, that world which is described as the Fountain of Eternal Youth, the Door to Fame, the Best Job in the World, the Stairway to Heaven. A thousand other clichés have been used to describe the game, but nobody in or loosely around Kecskemet had ever walked to Mr. Szaba Conz and told him precisely that: A Game. You could win, you could loose. Hell, the good old rules even permitted a team to draw. But three options were too much for him. The Managing Director of Kecskemeti TE wanted only to win.

Christopher Mamo, the previously-unheard-of Maltese Manager was appointed as Manager of ‘The Purple Squadron’ in June 2004. Just before the start of the Hungarian Div IB campaign, where Kecskemeti were the hot favourites… for the drop.

And so it all began in the Hungarian Summer of 2004, at Kecskemet, precisely in the offices adjacent to the Csabay Geza Koerut, the Stadium the Manager could never really call ‘Home’.

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Right after meeting the Backroom Staff, amongst whom Mr. Conz clearly stood out as the most enigmatic figure of them all, Mamo was approached by the Assistant Manager, Mr. Gabor Lukacs.

“Mr. Mamo, we’re delighted at having the opportunity to work with you. We’ve all heard very promising things about you.â€

“Well, thank you! I really hope we get the machine to work as soon as possible!â€

“No doubt about that! But I have to draw your attention to the fact that we have only a handful of U21 players, and as you probably know the first eleven must contain no less than nine of them…â€

“I’m aware of that. So, it’s a tough job right from day one, right?†Mamo joked with Lukacs.

“I could get a little more complicated than that I’m afraid, if we don’t follow orders.â€

“Orders? Of course, you get orders everywhere. They’re the bosses, we’re the guys who get their hands dirty. Don’t worry I’ll be able to handle it!â€

“One should hope so!†He was clearly truing to give Mamo a word of advice. The Manager realized that and grabbed Lukacs from the arm.

“Meaning?â€

“All I can say, Chris, is that The FA won’t be only ones dishing out orders.â€

Mamo suddenly felt uneasy. Had he jumped into a situation he couldn’t handle? He tried not to think about it, but being warned a mere five minutes after signing the contract looked suspicious. Had nobody had the decency of telling him how things really were run at the club?

Mamo had pledged alliance though, and despite knowing he was going to have to battle through the contract, he had no idea who he was going to battle against. Everyone seemed so nice. Maybe it was until the make-up started flaking? He had one suspect, though – Lukacs himself. He could only guess that the Assistant Manager had his own goals to reach. Like being a Manager for example? One had to wait and see.

Try as he might, he couldn’t stop thinking about that conversation. Once at the training ground, and with his players at his disposal, the tension could be felt and touched. Something was wrong with the players. Something was very wrong…

Yet it was wisest if he acted as if nothing had and was happening. A couple of kicks of the ball later, he had the players running about like they were ten-year-olds. It was all so surreal.

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Mamo was left bewildered, to say the least, by the players’ attitude in training. They acted like zombies, having no fun, but playing like robots who had been instructed on beating their next opponent like he was a rubber doll. Whilst pleased with the available talent, he asked for a meeting with Mr. Conz.

After filing the request with the club secretary, Miss Davina Horvath, he made his way to his office. Stunned by Davina’s beauty, worried by the players’ behaviour, and scared by Lukacs’s ‘threat’. All ingredients for total failure were there. He didn’t need much time realize that, but a lot more time was needed to draw conclusions.

Once in the office, he sat at his desk. The previous tenant was one Joszef Kondas. He had managed to give Kecskemeti DIB football, but nothing else. Yet his name was there, in the short list that gave the Managers’ names through the brief history of the team which was known as ‘The Purple Squadron’. Come to think of it, even that was a little bit too regimental for his tastes. He shrugged these thoughts aside as he examined the desk for any items which might have been left behind by Kondas.

Nothing in the drawers, nothing on the desk. He could proceed to set up his own desk. He had the faint feeling that this was going to be the only room in which he could feel safe enough from the funny Hungarian way of life. He had read about the Budapest pickpockets, but this was far beyond what he had ever wished for.

With everything in place, he sat on the comfortable armchair he had in the office. He went though some papers which briefly explained the DIB rules. Lukacs was right. The first eleven had to consist of at least nine U21 players. His side had more than that, but needed some serious remodeling in some particular areas. He didn’t panic though. A few phone calls were all it took.

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In the Florida heat, Jim Caffiero was sipping his rum-based ****tail. He took a look towards the right and saw fine girls for miles. He turned his head to the left and saw the same thing all over again.

“Oh it isn’t easy to be gay on a Florida beach nowadays!†Jim exclaimed, ironically hinting at the fact that he couldn’t spot one handsome guy among hundreds of eligible chicks. He stared at the horizon for a full ten seconds before realizing his mobile phone was ringing inside his beachbag.

“Jimmy Jimmy! How are you?â€

“Yo Chris, no’ bad. Could be better tho’!â€

“Listen Jim, I’m in Hungary right now…â€

“In hunt for Eastern Girls?†Jim cut in.

“No, not exactly. I’m working. For the next two years, it seems I’m stuck here.â€

“Two flippin’ years? Yo man, you know what, you’d better phone mama instead of me and tell her where you’ve been. I mean we don’t want your soup getting all cold!â€

“Jim, drop it. You know full well I was gonna come here. Well, the situation isn’t that rosy. Maybe we got ourselves into some serious shyt this time… The guys here. Well, I just don’t like them…â€

“And… You need a couple of my boys to clean up the mess? I’ve got a couple of hot boys you may wanna see.â€

“Yeah, I appreciate that. No funny business this time, though alright? Like that Leewkes guy you shipped me from Montserrat?â€

“No, no. these guys have been personally chosen, viewed and tested.â€

“I hope you don’t really mean that how I’m taking it!â€

“Well, man. You want football stars. I give you football stars. Now where they come from, how I get to become their Agent… that’s another affair. So drop it! You want them or what?â€

“Yeah send them over. I’ll be sending you those who won’t do back, though. I swear this time I won’t be licking your shaved arse…â€

Right that moment, the door flung open like a cannon behind it had just fired mercilessly into its thick wood. Mr. Conz stormed in.

“Jim, see you send them well-prepared. I gotta go. Get back to you if I need anything, alright? Bye!â€

Mr. Conz took out a cigar from his blazer’s chest pocket and carefully examined it, while Mamo awaited for him to start a conversation. Conz bit off the tip of the cigar, put it in his mouth the right way and proceeded to light it up. Mamo was alarmed at the level of sheer rudeness Conz had hanging around him.

“They just don’t make them like they used to. I mean I’m not expecting Cuban standards or anything. But tobacco is meant to please you, not choke you.â€

Thoughts like ‘Not only rude. Also ignorant’ ran through Mamo’s mind as he said, “Mr. Conz, I’ve asked Miss Horvath to see you.â€

“And that’s why I am here,†he continued. “I just wanted to give you a proper welcome. Conz Style.â€

Mamo looked at Conz straight into the eyes. This man had a menacing way of doing things.

“Firstly, eyes off Miss Davina Horvath. Forget her. She’s already taken, and I wouldn’t like her man to be disappointed at all. You, for one, wouldn’t like it if it had to be you to disappoint the Man.â€

“Point taken,†Mamo cleared out.

“Secondly, we take orders around here.†He wasn’t pleading for collaboration. He was ordering it. “Questions so far?â€

“No, none.†In reality Mamo had a million questions, but a mixture of fear, helplessness and caution stopped him from worsening an already bad situation.

“Good, because here comes the good one. I think you’ve met the players? Well, I just wanted you to know that if you’re not happy with any one of them, just give me a phone call, and I’ll see their head severed.â€

Mamo was stunned. Was that the treatment he would be given himself in the hour of difficulty? Maybe that was why the players were like zombies. The ball had turned into their only object towards which to direct their frustration and solitude.

“If you need anything, you know what to do.†Conz left the room, leaving the door open. Mamo hurried outside, where he saw Conz turning into the next corridor. He reached him and politely asked him what to do if he needed players.

“No money. Do the best with what you’ve got. Simple. Wheal and deal.â€

Back at the office, Mamo sat down on the armchair. He saw it as a little token of comfort in a cold block of offices. His attention was drawn to what looked like a mall scrap of paper flurting out from under the Persian carpet which covered almost the entire room. He walked to it and picked it up. It was an envelope addressed to ‘The New Manager’.

He hid it away in one of the desk’s drawers, hoping he would forget all about it long before he was tempted to open it.

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Hours turned into days, and days into a full week before the Caribbean entourage, headed by Jim Caffiero, arrived in Kecskemet. Jim was about to introduce himself to Davina Horvath, the secretary, before he was struck by a bruise which caressed the entire length of her arm, almost up to her shoulder.

Overcoming the initial shock, Jim tried to be as warm as possible. “Good morning, Miss. May I introduce myself? I’m Jim Caffiero, and I’m here all the way from Miami, Florida, to meet Mr. Christopher Mamo. I believe he is the Manager of Kecskemeti TE?â€

“Sure, I’ll inform him of your arrival. You may wait for him in the next room.â€

Jim followed instructions and had a seat, along with the five players he had brought over from the Carribean for Mamo’s scrutiny. The room, poorly lit, had just one source of light. And it was not natural light, either. It was a spot light which focused its efforts on a painting showing a big man, tough-faced and with big dark cheeks. One could call him the opposite of a warm guy into the bargain. Soon enough, Mamo appeared and went on to greet Jim personally.

“Jim, I wasn’t expecting you to come over personally! I’m delighted.â€

“Oh, you know I always wanna see my guys in action. And I might as well have a quick look at yours. You never know…â€

“Hands off, Jim, I’m warning you,†Mamo said half jokingly, half serious.

“Alright, alright!â€

“Even though I’m pretty sure you won’t be seeing anything that interests you.â€

Jim looked at Mamo wickedly, in that same old way he looked at anyone who was challenging him, in one way or another.

“So, what did you bring me this time?†Mamo continued with the sole purpose of switching arguments.

“Guys, get up. This is the Mr. Mamo I’ve been wanting you to get to know.†The five players all got up. All looked athletically well-built. After the preliminary introductions, all seven left for the training field.

Along the way, Jim couldn’t help but ask about the painting in the waiting room. Mamo told Jim all about his experiences for the past week. Jim couldn’t believe his ears. This Mr. Conz really was a bad person, he thought to himself.

“Chris, you might want to know a thing about the secretary.â€

“Jim, trust me, the less I know the safer I am.â€

“Fine, have it your way, but I’ve always known you to have a sense of justice, that if this time it means knowing what you oughtn’t, you would.â€

Mamo got lost in Jim’s words. As Jim tripped on himself, Mamo conceded.

“What’s her name?â€

“Davina.â€

“The less you know, the better, I see.â€

“Jim, she’s pretty much the only female creature that lurks these areas, it seems. Either something’s very wrong with the people here, or we’ve been taught to live in a completely different manner!â€

“Probably both!â€

“Anyway, I was actually warned to keep my hands off her. So there goes.â€

“Yeah, but maybe everyone should keep their hands off her. She’s all bruised, poor thing. What the fnck is going on here, tell me!â€

“Jim, I wish I knew. Jim, I really do. I get the contract served, and I’m outta here.â€

At the training ground, Mamo assessed Jim’s players. Cuban goalkeeper Felix de Consuelo was a fine talent, as were anchormen Jimmy Forbes, from the Bahamas and Grenadan Kal Gimmenes. Dominican defender Alec Horth likewise impressed. They were definitely good additions to the squad. The least impressive of the ‘Famous Five’, as Mamo coined them after Blython’s fictitious characters, was Netherlands Antilles striker Peter Dani. After much insistence from Jim, however, the strikers was offered a contract too.

With Jim on his way back to Florida, Mamo could now concentrate on the football side of his job. Or so he wished…

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After all changes to the squad were effected, with five players joining and one leaving, Mamo had the squad at his disposal. He could not help but notice the great gap between the old Kescemeti players and the newcomers. Worried as he was, though, he had to start working on some tactical instructions.

The squad consisted of 23 players, of which the only foreigners were ‘The Famous Five’.

Goalkeepers

Felix de Consuelo – Jozsef Toth – Daniel Sibalin

Left Backs

Zsolt Barna – Istvan Farkas

Right Backs

Peter Pandur – Gabor Nyul

Centre Backs

Adam Babos – Alec Horth – Zsolt Koncz – Csaba Nagy

Anchormen

Kal Gimmenes – Jimmy Forbes – Imre Szoboszlai – Gyorgy Kislorincz

Left Wingers

Norbert Lazar – Balazs Sallai

Right Wingers

Robert Loczi – Zsolst Sandor

Attacking Midfielders

Zsolst Anka – Imre Domokos

Strikers

Peter Kiss – Peter Dani

Mamo tried to set up the team for the first match of the season: the Hungarian FA Cup tie away to non-league side Kistarcsai PFK.

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Mamo’s first match in charge was undisputedly controlled and dominated by ‘The Purple Squadron’. Goals from Forbes , Loczi and Sallai earned Mamo and his side the following round of the FA Cup, away against.DI side Videoton.

Despite a Forbes strike which put Mamo’s side ahead on twenty minutes, though, Videoton clearly had the upper hand, and went on to win the tie and knock Kescemeti TE out of the cup.

On returning to the dressing room, Mamo was stunned at the passiveness demonstrated by the Hungarian players after a defeat which could have easily been avoided. Rather than deluded, they were sort of afraid. Mamo wondered.

As he opened the door to the dressing room, Mamo smelt a stench of cigar coming from inside. It was undoubtedly Mr. Conz who had come down to congratulate the players on their fine performance. But Conz had come down for something else.

“Mamo, I am totally dismayed. We have lost. You know what that means? You have cut deep, very deep. We cannot loose a match if we are to gain respect.â€

A second of silence ensued, as Conz made his way to the exit, then BANG!, the dressing room door slammed shut. Mamo was taken aback, but even more when Conz reopened the door, only to threaten the Manager that if there was to be another defeat, he would spill blood.

As Conz left, the young players started sobbing and Mamo was deeply touched. He turned to Lukacs, the Assistant Manager, and plainly said, “We’re going to war.â€

---

Matches Summary:

HFA Cup 1st Round: Kistarcsa 0-3 KTE (Forbes, Loczi, Sallai)

HFA Cup 2nd Round: Videoton 2-1 KTE (Forbes)

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10x for the feedback Brian of Nazareth. Actually, it's very comforting to have some kind of response. And Forbes... he's a talent. Pity he's a regen!

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Despite all his goodwill, Mamo depended on the demoralized and ill-treated players for their own, and more imminently his, salvation. Any further defeats, and he could well be on the ‘Missing’ list in some obscure Hungarian Police Station. He shivered at the thought.

Not yet knowing what to do, he sank in his armchair in deep reflection mode. An indistinct sound caught his attention. It sounded like a crying girl. He thought he had been so adversely affected by the entire situation that now he was imagining things. Yet the sound did not go away, and instead grew more identifiable. Yes – it was a crying girl. And it was coming from the suite in his office.

“What the fnck is going on here?†Mamo asked himself. He couldn’t believe that at every corner there was a new addition to the tale. New faces springing up, holding carton banners above their head reading something like ‘I’ve been beaten by Conz’, ‘Conz the Tyrant has locked me in his dungeon’ and so on and so forth. But was this a new face he’d never seen before?

The light brown curly hair was all too familiar to him. In two weeks, he had dreamt about it almost every night, as far as he could remember. What can’t be obtained is the most powerful object of desire. That was well-known.

“What’s the matter Davina? Hush, everything’s alright now!†Mamo picked her up and held her close to his heart. He couldn’t help but shed a few boiling hot tears at seeing such a sight. The tragedy that hit Kecskemet was far worse than Lukacs tried to depict on Day One.

Mamo made Davina some coffee as she recomposed herself. They spent the night talking about the Conz Tragedy, how it had come about, and how it could never end. Conz’s brother was the head of Hungarian Police, SS and CID. Something very inhumane always happened whenever Conz’s ‘Purple Squadron’ lost a battle.

This time round, Davina had been raped.

Mamo swore revenge. Conz was going down.

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As the DIB got under way, Mamo’s boys did not disappoint. The promise of a better life made even the most mechinsed of players find their long-lost human touch. The whole team, players, staff and Manager, were very united and determined to rid themselves of Conz. Davina become an icon for the players. Mamo had used her tragedy to his advantage: the players’ mission was not to avoid the drop anymore. It was to save Davina’s dignity.

The debut against REAC saw Alec Horth hit home two penalties, split by a Robert Loczi strike which would win the Goal of the Month Award. The first home match, against Tatabanya saw a wonderfully spirited side beat their rivals by an 8-0 scoreline. Alec Horth opened the score again, but Imre Domokos was the hero with five goals, and Sallai and Loczi claimed their share of glory.

September saw KTE reconfirm their superiority, which in reality was a potential previously oppressed as fear turn into an anger which could be safely exerted on the pitch. The only downside was a serious disciplinary problem with the insurmountable number of yellow and red cards waved at KTE players. But as long as the results kept coming, and Conz was happy, Davina was safe.

Domokos , Sallai and Loczi ensured the three points at stake against Mosonmagyarovar, before a disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Szolnok. Conz was still too happy with the standing though, as this time he spared Davina, or anyone else, any humiliation. The trip to Vac saw another six being hit home, ( Peter Kiss twice, Domokos three times and finally Alec Horth ). Oroshaza somewhat braked KTE’s ambitions, so to speak, as they managed to limit the damage by holding the score to a 2-0 defeat, courtesy of Netherlands Antilles’ Dani and Kislorincz .

In October, it was the same music all over again, with Peter Dani single-handedly beating Heviz, and repeating himself (together with Sallai and Gimmenes ) against Mako. Dunaujvaros were the next in line, succumbing to an Anka goal to loose by just one goal. Still the three points were KTE’s. However, Haladas could not keep up with the trend as Domokos , Dani (three times) and Loczi made them count.

Turning colder, and wetter, Kislorincz , Anka and Loczi consolidated KTE at the top of the standings at the beginning of November, against Bodajk, before Szeged were the first team to beat outstanding goalkeeper de Consuelo in the league. Nevertheless, victory was ensured through Defenders-cum-Strikers Nagy and Farkas . BKVE were beaten by another defender, Horth , who scored twice from the penalty spot before heading in a corner. With half the league gone, it seemed that even the press started realizing that this year, everyone should reconsider their ambitions to the Runner-Up spot – at best.

In December, two matches were scheduled. REAC and Mosonmagyarovar conceded twelve goals between them, Domokos , Sallai , Horth (twice) and Loczi making REAC bow and Mosonmagyarovar kneeling to Forbes , Loczi , Horth (twice) and above all hattrick hero Domokos .

By the end of 2004, Conz had not been given another chance to be violent. And Davina was a beautiful as never before. Mamo was going on holiday during the Christmas Recess, for as much as he had started to love and respect his players, he really did need a break.

He’d be sorely missing Davina though.

In those few previous weeks, her smile had become the driving forces behind his ambition. She had become his very energy. He couldn’t leave her behind…

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<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> Matches Summary:

REAC 0-3 KTE (Horth 2, Loczi)

KTE 8-0 Tatabanya (Horth, Loczi, Domokos 5, Sallai)

Mosonmagyarovar 0-3 KTE (Sallai, Loczi, Domokos)

KTE 0-0 Szolnok

Vac 0-6 KTE (Kiss 2, Domokos 3, Horth)

KTE 2-0 Oroshaza (Kislorincz, Dani)

Heviz 0-2 KTE (Dani 2)

KTE 3-0 Mako (Gimmenes, Dani, Sallai)

Dunaujvaros 0-1 KTE (Anka)

Haladas 0-5 KTE (Dani 3, Domokos, Loczi)

KTE 3-0 Bodajk (Kislorincz, Anka, Loczi)

KTE 2-1 Szeged (Farkas, Nagy)

BKVE 0-3 KTE (Horth 3)

KTE 5-0 REAC (Horth 2, Gimmenes, Loczi, Sallai)

KTE 7-0 Mosonmagyarovar (Horth 2, Loczi, Forbes, Domokos 3)

</pre>

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icon_mad.gifOh, something HAS to go wrong...

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Mamo knocked on Conz’s door. The tyrant’s voice cleared him permission to enter the room.

“Mamo? What business here?â€

“Well, Mr. Conz. The Christmas Recess is here but there’s a lot to be done at this stage for the club. May I ask you to take Miss Horvath with me to America on some scouting assignments?â€

Conz looked deeply into Mamo’s eyes. His dark cheeks did not move at all. His eyes did not move. His whole body, for that matter, did not as much as twitch at the scandalous proposal. A few seconds of thought, and Conz replied.

“No funny business, or you’re in deep trouble. Damn serious.â€

“No, there are a couple of guys I just wanna watch. My trusted scout Caffiero has indicated them to me. You may rest assured by the brilliant performances being put in by his current suggestions… Horth above all, but even the others…â€

“I cannot argue with that. I hope this Caffiero guy doesn’t dip his pen in my ink though. He had something funny in his way of behaving.â€

Maybe Conz was alluding to the fact that Jim was gay?

Once of the office, Mamo went straight to Davina’s desk. She was not there. So Mamo scribbled a note, saying ‘Pack your things, we’re off to Miami.’

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Once out of the plane, Mamo and Davina went straight to the Hotel they’d be staying at. The young lady was delighted to be there, with Mamo. Over the past few months, she had grown emotionally attached to him. One might even dare say she grew to love him. But that was dangerous enough for her, let alone him. She’d never drag him into that pit.

As soon as they checked in and found their way to their room (for Mamo had taken the ‘liberty’ of sharing his room with Davina), another man, undisputedly Eastern European, approached the receptionist. Room 518, Madam. Please bill Mr. Conz. The receptionist handed him the key and he went up to his room.

The two weeks that followed were the most marvelous Davina had ever lived. She was deeply in love with Mamo, for the way he had entered and impacted on her life, if for nothing else. She was determined to stick to him forever, even if sound humiliation by Conz was the price to be paid.

They visited places, they ate out. They watched movies together, they got to know new people together. But something was missing. Until one night, before going to sleep, Davina told Mamo, “Chris, thank you. I don’t know how I could ever live without youâ€.

“Ohoh! Enjoy it while it lasts…†he replied, although he had been secretly fantasizing about this moment for a long time.

“Could we make it last the whole night?†Davinia asked, unashamedly.

Mamo’s face turned red. “You think we should?â€

“I think – yes. We must!â€

And the night turned into the most extended period of ecstasy both had ever known, making love to each other like there was to be no tomorrow. Like the world was going to end. Like there was no Conz, no KTE, just the two of them in the entire universe. They enjoyed it while it lasted. For the day after, the world was going to end for Davina.

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The following morning, Davina and Mamo came down the stairs together, hand in hand, with that special sparkle in their eyes. They found a table facing a man-made waterfall part of the decoration in the Hotel’s dining area. To them, it was the Niagara Falls. They had professed their love, now it was all rosy.

As Mamo kissed Davina on her lips – slowly, tenderly – he looked at eye level on the opposite table. There, on the other side, was Conz. Yes, the big man himself. And the worst part was that he had seen them kissing.

Conz got up and walked to their table. “So where’s this Caffiero guy, huh?â€

“Eeerm…â€

Conz didn’t give Mamo the chance to answer. His left hook was already deeply embedded in the Manager’s temple. Mamo blacked out.

He woke up again in his room, remembering his kiss with Davina as the last thing he’d done. But the appalling state the room was in spoke more than he wanted to know. To all probabilities, Davina had been beaten, humiliated and maybe raped in there, while he was knocked out, next to her agitated but helpless body.

He wanted to die. But on second thoughts, he did have a plan…

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“Jimmy, I need your help. Serious, I’m very sad. Something’s happened.â€

“What’s going on. That Conz guy, still around, I see.â€

“Please, Jim, it’s not the right time to have lightheaded discussions. Get dressed. Get here!â€

“Where?â€

“The Phoenicks Hotel, Jim. Where else?â€

“Right up, I’m on my way.â€

Jim and Mamo sat down at the Hotel bar where they talked of everything and nothing at the same time. Until Mamo finally said, “but I have an idea. It’ll send Conz for broke and he’ll be as good as dead, stuck in that shythole that’s Kecskemet.â€

Mamo’s idea was to sell all players, down to the last one, for next to nothing. ‘Symbolic fees’, he called them. The staff could leave for free. He and Davina would run away together, and the team’d do so bad, he’ll have to sack me.

“And where do I come in?â€

“Your’e an agent. Hello?!?! Find the guys an acquirent. Go fetch! It’s that easy.â€

Jim thought about it for a second. “I get it. I’ll be these lot’s agent. Huh, I like that! I’ve always fancied breaking into the Old World. Deal!â€

Mamo smiled under his breath and couldn’t help his hand sticking out to shake Jim’s.

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Back to business, in Kecskemet. It was the same dull place he’d left back in December. It was bad – very bad indeed. As he hurried into the club’s headquarters, he found a new secretary. His heart stopped. What’s happened to Davina. Was she still alive? Was she still breathing? He dared not ask Conz news of Davina. He had to keep it all inside until the right moment.

The DIB continued as planned, but despite convincing wins on the field, the players were very much aware of Mamo’s troubles and couldn’t help failing to impress off the field. Injuries plagued the team, and the disciplinary record worsened with every match. It was a disaster.

Three Dani strikes and one from Loczi won KTE the away match against Szolnok. Tatabanya succumbed to Horth (penalty) and twice to Dani , while it was Dani again, this time with Domokos as accomplice, to make Vac kneel down.

Halfway through March, Caffiero called Mamo to tell him his mission was going on well, as he had already found prime locations for some of the players. Babos was off to IFK Goteborg, while Barna had accepted a contract from Diosogyor. Anka decided likewise not to leave Hungary, and opted for Bodajk. Pandur , destination Inter, Italy, where de Consuelo would still be his teammate. Nyul was destined for Lecce, Italy too, together with Jimmy Forbes , the Bahaman who’d be playing for Juventus.

Liverpool secured the services of left winger Sallai , while the Spanish league would benefit from the enthusiasm of Koncz (Valencia) and Peter Kiss (Deportivo). Farkas had half the big guns pleading for his signature, but in the end opted for Dinamo Kiev. Gimmenes , on his way to PSG. Olympiakos, cuddling their new boy Alec Horth . And Loczi to try out the Belgian way of life with Anderlecht.

All transfers were agreed to happen on the 5th of July. Firstly so that Conz is given a big surprise. Secondly, because the 4th of July is a symbolic date. The last day in Conz’s oppression.

Mamo felt a little disappointed for the fact that Dani had not yet found somewhere to call home. As for most reserve players. But Caffiero was determined not to abandon anyone. Except Conz that is…

Matches Summary:

Szolnok 0-4 KTE (Loczi, Dani3)

Tatabanya 0-3 KTE (Horth, Dani 2)

KTE 4-0 Vac (Domokos, Dani 3)

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The season went on with Kecskemeti TE winning almost all their remaining fixtures, bar three draws against BKVE, Dunajvaros and Bodnjak. Having achieved promotion, Mamo could not concentrate on how to sink the knife in Conz’s heart. That everyone, everything was leaving, and that his little empire was about to vanish.

He opened the drawer in his desk to get a paper on which to scribble his plan. An envelope caught his eye. He had placed that envelope there not to open it. But there he was, mission accomplished and all, and now he could afford the luxury. ‘To the New Manager’ it said, and indeed it was him.

Carefully opening the yellowed-out envelope he found a small piece of paper, torn out from a diary, which merely said, “He usually locks her up in the cellarâ€. Was it about Davina? He hadn’t seen her for months now, and had almost lost any hope of her still being alive.

Without wasting any time, he grabbed his coat and headed straight to the basement rooms underneath the office. There was nothing peculiar about the place. Rooms were in perfect order, and as he neared the end of the corridor, he seriously began questioning the content of the note. He opened the last door, but nothing… Another dead end.

Dejected, he made his way to the stairs that took him back up. Something under his foot felt suddenly funny though, and as he inspected the floor he found a secret trapdoor. Opening it, he found a dark flight of stairs.

He gathered enough courage to go down, and amidst the stenches, which blended together to form a perfectly unwithstandable aroma of urine, stagnant water and God knows what else, he started to make out a few grey outlines.

Suddenly, he bumped into something soft, almost human like, he guessed. Imagination was carrying him away, though, as it was only some padding which had found its way down to the ‘cellar’. He would rather called ‘Dungeon’.

A person started sobbing just then. It was obviously Davina, unmistakably her. Mamo rushed to her side and unchained her from the cold wall. She was completely nude. The only act of mercy Mamo could do just then was to give her his coat.

And within minutes they were out.

Mamo approached Conz’s office with caution. Allowing for Davina to pass by unnoticed, he peered through Conz’s door. He was inside, asleep and lost in his dreams. Mamo shook him by the shoulder, and Conz woke up startled. That was probably the worst move Mamo had done in all those months at Kecskemet.

“What are you doing here?†Conz inquired angrily.

“Mr. Conz, I am sorry to inform you that I have come to a decision to leave KTE and head back to Malta to spend some time with my family.â€

“You cannot,†Conz assured him. “You’re too good to leave Davina behind you. And let me assure you that if you do, she’ll be very disappointed. She cannot stop talking about you. The more she does, the more pleasure I get from torturing her. Thrust me, you should listen to her squealing when I give her the electric shocks.â€

Mamo really wanted to land a hook on Conz’s face, but he wasn’t about to loose the battle when he was a few steps away from victory.

“No, Mr. Conz, I’ve realized this is her way of life, and yours, and everybody else’s. but not mine, so I’m leaving the club, and everything and everyone else behind.â€

Conz was sure Mamo would be reconsidering, so he merely waved his hand to dismiss the Manager. Ex-Manager, now.

As Mamo was about to step out of the building, Conz was already on his way down to the cellar. Finding it empty, a rush of anger took Conz over, and with one unnaturally speedy sprint, Conz ran towards the door. He took out his pistol and aimed at Mamo.

Hearing the gun being cocked, Mamo felt a cold breeze passing against his forehead. ‘It’s over’, he kept telling himself.

“Mamo, I’m very disappointed with you. And I’m sorry this shythole of Kescemet is the last thing you’ll be seeing in your life. Goodbye.â€

Just then, fire broke out, but Mamo was surprised that he didn’t feel anything pierce his body. Was Conz so bad at aiming? He turned around… Just to see Conz on the ground in a pool of blood.

Jim Caffiero came out of the door from behind the lifeless body of Conz, saying, “Sut up, ol’ buddy. Couldn’t leave you alone in a time like this. You know what, Davina’s back in Malta. The players are all flying to all corners of Europe to play for new clubs. Conz is dead…â€

“Yeah…†Mamo said with a hint of doubt in his tone.

“Whee, geez guy. We’re alone here. It’ll be hours before anyone notices anything wrong. We should head back in for some intimate time together…â€

JUST THEN IT CROSSED MAMO’S MIND… JIM CAFFIERO REALLY WAS GAY!

Mamo started to run as fast as he could. Jim called out, “Just joking, bstard! Listen up. You have no job. I am an agent. Any chances I might represent you?â€

“Well, I need a break right now. Maybe in a few years’ time I’ll get back down to it…â€

“Right up, cos I know this guy, one Fidel, who badly needs a Manager to start working in 2008. Thought you might be interested…â€

“I’ll talk to him. What’s the job, anyway?â€

“Oh it’s a National Team.â€

Fidel… National Team… Jim Caffiero… from Havana…

“Deal. I’m in it!â€

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