Grassroots Coaching

Practical Jokes in Football

Having read an article over the weekend about how Steve Gerrard’s England team mates trashed his room as a practical joke when he made his England debut, it bought to mind when one of my Sheffield United team mates tried to hypnotise me! The scene was a Sheffield United Christmas party, back in 1983. We were all in a packed pub in Sheffield, enjoying a few drinks, I was dressed in a very fashionable, trendy, white shirt and black linen trousers, very much the Miami Vice look of the time.

I was sat at the bar with our Scottish centre half John McPhail, when out of the blue, he turned to me and said, “I bet you £10 I can hypnotise you Truss” The truth is I knew that something was going on, because Monty as he was known had many admirable football qualities and to boot was a good looking, trendy, fashion icon, much admired by both male and female Blades. But, brains weren’t his best attributes and I felt that I would see through whatever trick he was trying to pull and take a tenner from him. “OK I replied, but let’s put the money on the bar first and you’ve only got 10 minutes”

By now a large crowd had gathered round us. We were both sitting on a bar stool and Monty asked me to face him and maintain eye contact and to copy everything he did.

He had a beer bottle in his hand and handed me one. “Hold this beer bottle in your left hand, maintain eye contact and copy everything I do” says mystic Monty.

With that he starts to wave his right hand in the air, I copy, he runs his finger down the beer bottle and around the bottom, I do the same, he then starts to draw on his face with the same finger, I once again copy him, at all times maintaining eye contact. This goes on for 10 minutes or so: eye contact, finger round bottle, finger on face, shirt, ears, with him muttering, “You are feeling sleepy, your eyes are tired” The crowd are all stifling giggles. It’s obvious, they like me know I am not being hypnotised and he’s nothing but an amateur hypnotist. It just isn’t going to happen.

Eventually times up, so I said, “that was rubbish Monty, you didn’t even come close to hypnotising me and you’ve made yourself look stupid. Come on, give me my tenner”

“You’re too strong willed Truss”, says Monty as he hands over my tenner. “No one can get the better of you”. Which in my view, was very true. The crowd now give way to loud laughter and start to barrack him; “useless McPhail that was pathetic” was one of the kinder comments. Monty’s humiliation is complete.

Out of sympathy, I offer to buy Monty a drink out of my winnings, which he gratefully accepts. The lads wander over to the bar, all giving Monty loads of abuse and reiterating my view, that there was no chance he could hypnotise me!

Ten minutes later, the lager has its effect and I go to the loo. As I am washing my hands, I look into the mirror and stand there transfixed. My face and shirt are covered in dark streaks of what looks like black ink!!

Somehow I have been well and truly stitched up, humiliated in front of hundreds of people. There isn’t a lot I can do, I have to walk back into the pub and brazen it out.

As I walk out of the toilets, I am met with a cacophony of noise, whistles, cat calls and the shouted abuse. I acknowledge the punters, with a fixed grin, a cheery wave and return to my seat at the bar.

“Best £10 I have ever spent” says Monty, laughing his head off. The trick it seems is to get an egotistical person, who will always rise to the challenge of a bet and never thinks that they can be tricked.

The bottle was the key to the trick. It had to be a brown bottle of some description and the one used by me had been doctored. Monty had held a lighter’s flame under the base of the bottle for a minute or so, the flame deposited carbon on the bottom of the bottle. So every time I ran my finger round the bottom of the bottle, I was getting black carbon on my finger. The maintaining eye contact ensured I didn’t look at my finger and the mystical signs, I followed Monty with round my face and shirt transferred the carbon from finger to face and shirt.

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