When I was a player at Sheffield United, after away games, it became a ritual to have a couple of beers with team mates and the opposition in the players lounge. The Manager, Martin Peters of England and World Cup fame, was not much of a drinker and was always very keen to get on the bus and get back to Sheffield. The players on the other hand, were always quite happy in the bar.
Martin would do his press interviews and pop his head round the door and chirp up in his cockney accent “come on lads, time to be off”. One of and to be fair it was normally me, would respond back with a whinging “Just more beer, boss…please!!”
Martin, despite all his deserved fame, was quite a shy and reserved man and didn’t like making a fuss or drawing attention to himself, so invariably, unless we had got beaten badly, would say “OK, one for the frog and then let’s be off”
None of the players really knew what “one for the frog” actually meant. But, we interpreted it as being allowed to have one more drink. Martin also got stuck with the nickname, behind his back of course, of “The Frog” because of this saying.
A few years later I was having a drink with my Dad and brothers in a pub in Somerset. Two of my brothers, Jim and John had been bought up in London and my Dad had lived all his life in London. As the bell for last orders went, Jim asked “one for the frog”. “One for the frog” say I. That was what Martin Peters used to say, what does it mean?
“I don’t know if we can tell him boys”, my Dad responds. After all he’s not really a proper Londoner, what with living in the sticks for most of his life. I now had a bit of a clue what this saying was about; it came from London Cockney rhyming slang. So over our last drink, I attempted to get to the bottom of this riddle. But, my elder brothers and Dad were now teasing me about my lack of knowledge of cockney rhyming slang. To be honest, I didn’t hear a lot of it at school in rural Somerset, so I was quickly going round in circles as they threw all sorts of other rhyming slang at me to decipher.
“Your drinking a pigs ear”, says Jim. I’m drinking lager, how does that rhyme with ear? “Not lager son, ear rhymes with Beer” teases Dad. “He should keep his fire mans out of this” says John. Go on then, what’s that. Fireman’s hose…nose.
Eventually, Dad took pity on me and explained the mystery. One for frog, was shortened cockney rhyming slang for “one for the frog and toad” Still with me here? It seems toad rhymed with Road, so one for the frog, meant in non cockney rhyming slang, one drink for the road.
I liked that. So over the years, in many bars, pubs, players lounges, cafes and neighbours houses, all round the World at closing or leaving time, I could be heard pleading, come on…”one for the frog”
So when I decided to write down my anecdotal experiences as a journey man professional footballer, there could only be one title, particularly given the idea of writing about my playing career inevitably took place, in a pub, just as they called last orders!!