Ghostly tales from Gower Park
Melville’s Gower Park clubroom’s bar is haunted – according to terrified head barman Phil “Poltergeist” Wheatley.
Beneath the shadow of an otherworldy red glow, which hung like an ominous augury in the football firmament inside the Melville clubrooms late on Saturday night, an unusually pale Wheatley confessed to suffering “a bad case of the heebee-jeebies” after a spooky brush with the supernatural.
And when Wheatley speaks of “the other side”, for once he’s not talking about Rotherham.
Wheatley recounted how the shelves above the bar fridge rattled and stored table signage loudly crashed down at exactly the same moment as Melville’s Ryan “Red Dragon” Taylor made a shocker of a backpass which gifted Onehunga Sports the equalising goal on Saturday.
Wheatley was every bit as rattled as the bar paraphernalia which splattered floor-ward. His brow furrowed as clouds scudded across a darkening sky, devilish gusts whipped the landscape, and even those with five bars on their celestial cell phones, such as Melville chaplain Snowy Dickinson, were powerless to intervene.
“As Melville Old Boys know, there are only two things I am usually afraid of – an open goal on Saturdays, and Darby McDonald’s octopus arms at training on Thursdays,” Wheatley said.
“In terms of a life philosophy I have always considered myself a dialectical materialist. That is, I primarily subscribe to Hegel’s metaphysical insights that emphasised the idealist observation that human experience is dependent on the mind’s perceptions, and the materialist view that it is the ‘world of the concrete’ that shapes our socio-economic interactions and in turn determines socio-political reality.
“So I’m not a natural fit as a percipient of psychic phenomena. Ghosts really aren’t for me. But honestly, this is doing my head in,” he added in a worried whisper. “I wasn’t drunk and it’s the third time something like this has happened in the bar.
“At the time I thought I heard an inexplicable disembodied voice chant: ‘Ffyc fi , a oedd yn ofnadwy’. Was it Welsh? Or was it just ghost gibberish?”
Wheatley emphatically rejected suggestions his experiences were merely delusions resulting from the affective and cognitive dynamics of unscientific interpretation of ambiguous stimuli.
“What I do know is if I had any hair, it would have been standing on end. This is not quite the club spirit we are seeking at Melville, though as a barman I guess I am obliged to show ‘ghost responsibility’.”
Wheatley said there were several ghostly connections he could think of for Gower Park.
“We never did find out what happened to (former committee member) Fraser Halley – he was never seen again after volunteering to look after the aftermatch catering.
“And (northern league coach) Steve Williams has looked pretty haunted after some of these home games, while the chairman clearly has a few skeletons in his wardrobe these days.
“Yet in none of those cases can we definitively link to the apparition of a dead person which has become manifest to the living as a nebulous image.”
Melville import Taylor said Wheatley’s close encounter reminded him of “The Gwyllgi” – which according to Welsh legend was a giant half-beast, half-coach, with piercing red eyes which petrified any man, woman or referee who came across it.
Fellow Weshman Justin Harden said Wheatley’s experiences needed to be taken seriously. He drew comparisons with the haunted Goblin Tower in Denbigh, where legend has it that a dragon used to live in the castle until it was finally killed by a goalkeeper with eight fingers on each hand.
However Jordan “The Tractor” MacCarter rubbished talk of Welsh ghosts, saying the nearest thing to a scary spectre he had ever encountered was “backhoe fade” – a reference to the accidental damage or complete severing of a telecommunications cable.
Marc Evans said the only spirit he had time for was vodka.
Club captain Wheatley is now calling for a Melville Ghostbusters social next month.