It’s injury time at Wealdstone and Lewes have a corner. We’ve stunk the place out for 85 minutes, but Fraser Logan has pulled one back and suddenly the Rooks have one last chance from a corner.
“DON’T PANIC, WEALDSTONE,” screams this wiry little bloke in the away end. “CONCENTRATE. YOU’VE GOT IT IN THE BAG. DON’T PANIC!”
Defenders start turning round, trying to figure out who the fella doing the screaming is. “STAY FOCUSED! CONCENTRATE, WEALDSTONE! DON’T F***ING BUCKLE.”
The Wealdstone players are visibly unsettled by our weapon of mass distraction. They don’t know what’s going on. And when the corner swings in, Jay Lovett rises completely unchallenged and plants it in the net for the most undeserved of equalisers. An equaliser that the wiry little bloke, Cynical Dave, had a massive hand in.
Dave McKay – or Cynical, as he was known to pretty much everyone at Lewes – was a near-permanent fixture on the terraces. Look back through the decade or more of James Boyes’ brilliant match photos, and in almost every goal celebration you’ll see Cynical, arms aloft at ten-to-two, with a look of sheer delight on his face.
He didn’t have much time for the FA Trophy, couldn’t be bothered with the odd schlep in the County Cup, but otherwise you could pretty much guarantee he’d be there, gunning down the road in his green coat, roll-up in hand, having left the pre-match pub in just enough time to make it through the turnstile two minutes before kick-off.
His knowledge of Non-League football was terrifying. “Dave, who was that geezer who got sent off against us when we played Sutton in the cup?” someone might ask over a pre-match pint. “What, Terry Madden?” he’d reply in a flash, except with the correct answer. “He’s playing at Dorchester now. Got sent off last week.”
Dave’s mastery of Non-League miscreants was surpassed only by his knowledge of every pub in the South of England’s beer prices. “I was in the Squid & Starfish last week. SIX POUNDS FIFTY for a pint of Guinness. It’s only £3.75 in the Fiddler’s Elbow. World’s gone mad.”
His views on the world in general were no secret to any of us who made the long away trips with him, either. Five pints and a two-hour train ride back to the South coast was all the encouragement he needed to set the record straight about house prices or the state of politics. He hid it well sometimes, but he was a fiercely intelligent guy with a genuine social conscience.
He could be a prickly sod, and if you were walking to the station too slowly to make the 5:10 you could forget about him waiting for you. Time and Cynical Dave wait for no man.
But that irascible nature was what drew people towards Dave on the terraces in the first place. He had the best one-liners, the best insults for opposition keepers, an endless supply of cutting remarks.
Above all else, he was our mate. And we’re going to miss him on the terraces, on the trains and in the pre-match pubs for an awful long time to come.