“Salt?” Bechkoura holds out a glass salt shaker while trying to stifle his laughter.
“It’s insane that you’re all making me do this.” I reply, flatly. “This is essentially bullying, you all realise that.” Some of my coaching staff laugh, others cheer their encouragement, others bang the cafeteria trays against tables to create a sort of makeshift drumroll noise.
“Eat it!” Snarls Benoît Cheyrou. “Eat the hat! Eat it!” Benoît’s succumbed to the mob mentality more than most, it seems.
“I will eat a small section of the hat.” I sigh, eyeing the AJ Auxerre branded baseball cap that Bechkoura’s bought and presented to me on a plate. “But just know that I hate you all.”
I pick up my fork and stab it into the visor of the cap, then I pick up my knife and start hacking away. It takes a while to free a piece of the cap so that I can start tucking in. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to cut up a baseball cap with a standard knife and fork, but… Yeah, it takes a while. Eventually though, as my coaching staff cheer me on, as Benoît Cheyrou grins maniacally and as Bechkoura laughs his almost certainly fired arse off, I raise the piece of visor to my lips and drag it off the fork with my incisors.
As the rest of my teeth sink into the piece of visor, which thankfully seems to be made quite cheaply from cardboard and a cotton blend as oppose to plastic, I consider how it came to this point. How did it come to the point where I, the man who made Angrense invincible, the man who won France their first European International League trophy and the man currently working wonders with AJ Auxerre, how did it come to the point where I’m eating my fucking hat?
The answer can be traced back to a couple of days ago, when Bayern Munich manager Diego Simeone called to enquire about my unpredictable left back Faouzi Hikem. Just as Faouzi predicted he would. I was ready to play hardball though and armed with my exorbitant asking price, I told Simeone to stump up £15M. He agreed.
It all happened so quickly: Faouzi flew to Germany to sort out personal terms, which didn’t take very long. Then Auxerre’s legal team got in contact with the full back’s youth team, Jeunesse Sportive de Kabylie, to sort out the 40% or so of the fee that they were owed. It worked out at nearly £6M, which for an Algerian League 1 side is not bad at all. Then just like that, the ‘i’s were dotted and the ‘t’s were crossed. Faouzi Hikem did indeed join Bayern Munich for an Auxerrois record fee, topping Djibril Cissé’s £13.75M move to Liverpool 20 years ago.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m over the bloody moon. I’m sick of losing Faouzi for 3 matches at a time because of stupid 2 footed challenges and I think the £9M-ish that we’ve picked up is pretty good business. It also means that our finances look better than they ever have during my time here. But of course, I did say that I’d eat my hat if Bayern Munich came in for Hikem. Me and my big mouth. My big mouth that is currently savouring the taste of cheap, Chinese-made club merchandise.
Once the piece of visor has been successfully turned into a putrid ball of mush, I force it down as best I can. There are still little pieces of wet fabric between my teeth, but otherwise it’s gone. Fucking disgusting. I have metaphorically and literally eaten my hat. The coaching staff cheer once more.
“How was it, Boss?” Asks Bechkoura. “Could’ve done with salt, I imagine.”
“You tell me.” I smile darkly. “You’re the one who agreed to eat a piece of hat if I did.” The room falls quiet as Bechkoura’s face drains of colour.
“N-no I didn’t!”
“Well that’s what we all remember, Bechkoura. That’s what all of us who don’t want to look for new jobs tomorrow remember, isn’t it?”
The loudest cheer so far erupts around the cafeteria as the plate’s carried across the table to be placed in front of Bechkoura. He gives me a dirty look as Benoît Cheyrou takes the salt shaker out of his hand and upends it, spilling a pile of salt onto the cap and the surrounding area of table.
“EAT IT! EAT THE FUCKING HAT!” He screams.
Jesus, calm down Benoît.