There once was a bottle, a bottle brown in colour, no label, with a white plastic top.
It came out on cold winter days, when my PT hurts were very small with gaps up the side. Red, green, yellow with legs hanging down like legs from a nest.
Legs that got me a nickname Knots On Cotton. Legs that would run four Marathons, play football, win medals doing the 400 metres in 50 seconds in 1985.
Cross Country in Germany in minus 6 degrees, the Brown Bottle would appear, get passed around from man to man, slippery and covered in clear pungent smelling liquid.
Off we would go like a glowing ember running into the distance, faster than you ever ran before because of the heat eating into your white, pale British body.
The changing room windows open, releasing odours that travel to the maintenance man cutting the grass for the next game of football. Sitting on his Mountfield lawn mower, he gets close to the small building where he can hear men chatting about how good they are, all the time the smell of Elliman’s Rub being sucked in as he breathes the fumes in. The mower speeds up as he gets high on it, the blade dropping and cutting shorter than a Bowling green.
The game is on – meet you there at 2. Make sure you tell someone to bring the Elliman’s.
Stripping off, the men talk; I put my blue football shorts on all faded, worn by not just me, frayed edges with nice gaps for the air to blow up. What position will I play today I wonder? I can play anywhere as I am a good footballer, one that could play on either wing. A player who was taught by my Dad to use both feet.
A player who would win the final day’s football match between two school teams. 80 mins gone, the score 1.1, he ran, just standing back from the centre spot. The brown leather football weighing as much as a bag of spuds would come sailing through the air, the small skinny lad leaping headfirst, connecting with ball and heading past the goalkeeper to win the match. Nine players run to him, hugging, and spreading the Elliman’s all over him.
Number Seven was his shirt, and the number would mean so much to him as he grew older. Blue was his favourite colour, and would also play a big part later in his life.
You’re on the wing Blackie OK? No problem – pass the Elliman’s.
Excitement building up to the game, he tips the rub into his hands, most of it missing and running down his skinny legs. He massages it into his thighs up high, just short of the Crystal Balls.
Someone shouts “Did you see that film last night with Demi Moore in?”. She appears in his head, beautiful, hair cut short, a face he dreams of waking up to.
Slowly his hands move inside his blue shorts, rubbing the C B…s. She fades from his mind as an intense heat flows into the groin area.
The door flies open. Wives and children watch as a tall 6ft man with a thick moustache runs like Johnny Weissmuller in a black and white Tarzan movie speeded up five times, like Benny Hill weaving back and forth, heat eating into his todger.
A scream of laughter echoes around the pitch. “Why is he running so fast?” a little boy asks.
It’s the Good Old Elliman’s Rub.