All aboard for yacht club’s Super Bowl shindig
Vinny Fitzpatrick and his pals made the guest list for the eagerly awaited game
Seattle Seahawks’ players dump Gatorade on head coach Pete Carroll with Super Bowl victory against the Denver Broncos in sight at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Seattle Seahawks won 43-8. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images
The line of scrimmage was an inviting one, especially for a burly nose tackle like Vinny Fitzpatrick.
In front of him, a long table groaned under a grid-iron weight of all-American favourites: hot dogs, burgers, chicken wings, baskets of fries, corn on the cob, and baked spuds.
His capacious stomach, which took some filing, was ready to rumble.
The beefy bus driver had earned his carbo-loaded supper after a solid two-hours lugging kegs, arranging chairs, setting up tables, and putting up banners in Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club – one for the Denver Broncos and one for the Seattle Seahawks.
He worked away at a steady clip, whistling The Skye Boat Song for company, for his mood was chirpy on the back of Saturday wins for Everton and The Dubs.
The reward for his labours, and that of his pals from Foley’s, was free admission to the Super Bowl shindig, but only after the members, friends and special guests had first dibs on the supper.
“Feel free to have as many libations as you want but hands off the scram until I give the signal,” warned Charlie St John Vernon, a former Commodore of the club.
The VIPs were connected to the Irish Coast Guard and Civil Defence, who had patrolled the Clontarf Road over the weekend, pumping sea water off the promenade and protecting people’s homes, livelihoods, and sporting amenities like the CYBC.
As Charlie pointed out, the very least the members could do in appreciation was to offer a burger, a beer and a late night pass to the big screen showing of the Super Bowl. “They did a far better job than King Canute,” he smiled.
Over the years, Vinny had been an infrequent visitor to the single-storey building hemmed in between the bus depot and Foley’s, even though he had driven past it countless times.
For Vinny, a life on the ocean wave had never appealed. He preferred to be in the briny in late summer, warm water lapping his hairy oxters, rather than skimming the waves from above.
On his arrival, he’d been impressed by the array of ocean-going vessels safely docked in front of the clubhouse.
It prompted a question: what was the difference between a boat and a ship?
Vinny reckoned it was something to do with a boat being able to fit into a ship but not the other way around. He made a mental note to ask Charlie later.
By nine bells, the members and invitees were piped on board and the evening’s revelry began. According to Charlie, the Super Bowl shindig first set sail in 1986 when Channel 4 showed live coverage of the Chicago Bears against the New England Patriots.
Even Vinny could recall The Refrigerator, Walter Payton and Jim McMahon, for it was that same night which ignited his own passion for the game. Vinny was a closet supporter of the Green Bay Packers, whose fans were known as The Cheeseheads, which suited Vinny, who liked cheese.
As Super Bowl XLVIII got under way – Vinny reckoned it must be the longest Roman numeral attached to the great event – he declined the complimentary US beers, Coors, Budweiser, Blue Moon and Sam Adams.
Instead, Vinny ordered his first creamy, was pleasantly surprised to accept change from four euro, and looked about at the jolly jack tars. They were a motley crew, all decked out in blazers and leathery, sea-worn, skin.
As the first raft of party-goers attacked the supper table, Vinny felt his tummy growl. “They better leave us some rations,” he thought.
The next hour or so was passed sipping perfect pints in the company of his old muckers, Macker, Fran and Brennie by which time the Super Bowl kicked off, with the Seahawks soon seizing the initiative.
At the end of the second quarter, by which time the outcome was a formality, Charlie Vernon raised a gin and tonic towards the lads and tilted his leonine head in the direction of the repast – there was no need for a second invitation.
Vinny was nose-bagging in earnest, when, all of a sudden, he heard a commotion. Pausing briefly, he glanced up from his chomping to spy a gaggle of girls, late teenagers he reckoned, none of whom, thought Vinny, had any connection with the Coast Guard.
“Who needs Bruno Mars when you have Bayside’s Baywatch Babes?” shouted someone on a microphone.
With that, a dozen long-legged ladies began to strut their stuff, kicking high and punching the air with pom-poms. It wasn’t quite in the Miley Cyrus league of gyrations but it got the blazers going. “Gerr em off,” shouted one salty seadog, who must have been over 70.
Vinny had seen and heard enough. He loaded up a massive burger and a feed of fries on a paper plate and headed out the back, for a breather. He was observing the night sky overhead, marveling at Jupiter and his old belted friend, Orion, when he heard a husky voice at his shoulder.
“Well, hello there, stranger.”
Nervously, he turned only to spy Pamela, his attractive cycling acquaintance from Bailey Bikers, at his shoulder. “h hi Pamela,” he stuttered. “What brings you here?”
Tossing her wavy dark hair in the direction of the clubhouse, Pamela replied: “That lot in there.”
It turned out Pamela was a graduate of the Bayside Baywatch Babes and was now coach of the troupe. “So, what do you make of them?” she asked. “They’re, er, very energetic,” said Vinny.
Pamela nodded. Then, she leaned forward to flick a blob of grease off Vinny’s chin. “Tell me, Vinny. Is it the third quarter or fourth quarter?”
For a bit, Vinny said nothing; instead he just chewed quietly, as if thinking. Then, he swallowed and cleared his throat.
“I had one when Charlie gave us the signal, a second when those young wans of yours came in, and I brought this one out with me. It’s my third.”
Laughing, Pamela gave Vinny a playful squeeze in the belly. “Not quarter-pounders, silly. I meant quarters in the Super Bowl.”
Vinny flushed as bright pink as the meat he was shoving inside his gob.