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  • Writer's pictureDexter Hastings

Saturday Book Club - Fear No Foe chapter 25


The day of the press conference had come, Kelly and Shay headed down to London’s Wembley stadium. When they arrived at the stadium, there were a lot of reporters waiting for them outside. As they pulled up the reporters swarmed around his car, he looked at Kelly and said “Why are they all outside? I’ll answer all their questions when I get in there”.

Kelly looked out of the car window and replied “I don’t think they are sports reporters Shay; whatever you do don’t answer any of their questions”. As Shay and Kelly got out of their car, Dexter came towards them with 6 security guards to escort them into the stadium.

As they walked towards the entrance Shay asked Dexter “What’s with all the reporters? What’s going on?” Dexter looking really stressed and replied “Haven’t you read the papers today?”

Shay shook his head and said “No Dext I try not to read them as their full of shit”. Dexter shook his head and replied “Well son you should see what shit they have written about you, come on let’s get inside”.

Dexter took them into a private room and said “The press has fucked you over son”. Shay who still didn’t know what was going on replied “So what have they said?”

Dexter took a deep breath and told them that at the celebration party at The Squared Circle there were some pictures taken of Shay holding a flag. Shay nodded his head and said “Yeah I had loads of pictures with me holding supporters flags up, but we have had all this Irish shit already, they can’t have brought all that up again”.

Dexter shook his head and replied “No Shay it’s worse than that, some of the flags you had pictures taken with had republican slogans on them”. Shay shrugged his shoulders and replied “I didn’t notice Dext, what’s the big deal anyway?” Kelly who had been listening to Dexter and reading the front page of one of the daily rags said “It is a big deal Shay a very big deal”. Kelly then showed him the front page of the paper. Shay looked at the picture, it had him and a few of his fans holding a Irish flag with the Gallic words ‘tiocfaidh ar la’. Shay looked at Kelly and said “So what it weren’t my flag, anyway what does that mean?” Dexter looked at Shay and said “Don’t you know anything about your roots? It’s an I.R.A slogan made famous by Bobby Sands when he was on hunger strike”. Shay still looked bewildered with it all and replied “Dext, the only thing I know about my Irish roots is they like to drink Guinness and say be Jesus a lot, oh and that Britain runs the north”. Kelly turned to Shay and said with a serious look on her face “Look at the headline, there trying to make you out as an I.R.A sympathizer”. Shay looked down at the headline on the front page; it read “Dempsey I.R.A Shame”. He shook his head and said “that’s a load of bollocks Kell, you know even my Dad hated all that terrorist shit, he always said that it made life a nightmare for Irish people in England. I’d never get involved with anything like that”. Kelly nodded her head and replied “I know Shay, but most of the people who read this won’t”. Kelly paused for a while deep in thought then continued “If they ask you about the pictures do not answer, only answer questions on the fight”. Shay nodded his head and Dexter said “Right then shall we get this over and done with”. As they walked into the press conference, the whole room went quiet; Shay, Kelly and Dexter went and sat on the stage. Frank Goldsten then announced that Britain, Dempsey will be fighting at Wembley Stadium on the 28th of July for all 3 Super Middleweight titles.

Frank then went and sat next to his boxer Gary Britain and asked the reporters if they had any questions. The place was in uproar every reporter shouted out a question, Frank pointed to one of the reporters at the front too ask the first question.

The reporter asked Shay straight out “Shay do you support the I.R.A and its terrorist activities?” Shay just sat there stunned at being asked this question. Kelly replied for Shay by saying “Shay will not be answering questions on any matters, but about the fight. The only comment we will give on the pictures in the news papers today is that they were supporter’s flags and nothing to do with Shay’s beliefs”.

The reporter then asked Gary Britain what he thought of the pictures and report in the papers. Gary responded by saying “I think that it is a disgrace that Dempsey has let himself be pictured with these flags, I have had family members killed in the troubles in Northern Ireland and it sickens me that now we have a sort of peace there that it has raised its ugly head again, it has no place in boxing, on the 28th of July I will beat Dempsey, not just for the titles, but for every person who has lost someone in the troubles”.

The reporters all nodded their heads as they knew that, that quote would be great for their articles. Shay was dumbfounded at how these pictures had been misinterpreted, another journalist asked Shay for a response to what Gary had said, Kelly went to answer, but Shay stopped her and replied himself.

He said “I’m not going to comment on the pictures, but for Britain to say what he has said about losing people in the troubles in Ireland is ridiculous. I have many friends who have fought for this country in Northern Ireland and in Iraq and Afghanistan and I think they do a great job trying to keep the peace in these countries. Britain is trying to make a big deal of this to get the British public on his side, my manager has stated before, I was born in England and proud to be English, but I am also proud of my Irish roots. My parents are both Irish and I would never hide that fact, on my shorts I wear both flags with pride and on July 28th I will beat Gary Britain because I am the better boxer and not because of my nationality”.

Dexter and Kelly were really impressed with Shay’s answer and so were many of the press. Another reporter then asked Shay “So what are your views on Ireland, do you think Britain should relinquish its power over the North?” Kelly butted in again and said “This is not a political debate; it’s a boxing match, so please keep your questions to that”.

Gary Britain then spoke up and said to Shay “Come on Dempsey, I’d love to know your views on this, answer the man or do you need a women to answer the question for you?”

Shay turned to Gary and replied “You want to keep your mouth shut Britain, on the 28th I’m going to knock you out again, or have you forgotten about that?” Gary stood up and looked directly at Shay, this was the first time Shay had ever seen Britain unnerved.

Shay stood up as well and shouted at Britain “What? What you going to do Britain?” Gary seemed to get his composer back and replied “Answer the question Dempsey or haven’t you got an opinion”.

Shay looked down at Kelly and then at Dexter who were both shaking their heads to tell him not to answer, Shay then looked out at the reporters and the worlds press who were waiting for his answer. Shay then said “Do I think Ireland should be one country? Yes, yes I do, I think the Irish should be left to sort out their own problems, but I don’t agree with all the bombings or any terrorist activities, but yes Ireland should be one country”.

The press all went mad trying to get the next question in, Dexter then stood up and told Shay and Kelly they were leaving. As they went to leave through the side of the stage, Gary Britain mumbled to Shay “I told you I’d take your girl Dempsey”.

Shay turned and looked at Britain and replied “Oh yeah Britain, I almost forgot about that”.

Shay then smashed him with a right hook to the jaw knocking him clean off his feet and over the table on the stage. The security grabbed Shay, but Shay shrugged them off and said to Britain who had now got back to his feet “That was for mugging me off for 2 years, but you’re more than welcome to the gold digging slag”.

Shay turned away and said to Kelly and Dexter “Come on let’s get out of here”. When they got outside, Dexter said “Well that couldn’t have gone any worse, why didn’t you listen and just not answer”.

Shay looked at Dexter and said “fuck that they were trying to make out that I was thick and some kind of I.R.A sympathizer, my Dad never agreed with what they have done and nor do I, but like I said in there Ireland should be one country”.

Dexter just shook his head and said “Right go back to Brum and I’ll and see what I can do here”. Kelly and Shay went back to Birmingham; Shay apologized to Kelly if what he had said had made her job harder.

Kelly smiled and replied “Shay, at the end of the day you told them what you thought, you didn’t say anything wrong, you answered them well, but I’m sure they will use it against you”. Shay shrugged his shoulders and said “Well it won’t be the first time I’m the bad guy will it”.

Kelly smiled and replied “No it won’t Shay, but I think you may get a lot of shit over this, anyway that was one wicked punch you gave Britain, make sure you hit him like that in the fight”. Shay laughed and said “Don’t worry he’s going to get a lot more of them in July”.

When they got back to their home in Birmingham, they couldn’t believe their eyes, there front windows had been smashed and someone had sprayed unionist slogans all over their walls. Shay was livid and said to Kelly “Fucking wankers, what fucking idiot would do something like this, I wish I’d been here when they had done this”.

Shay then went around to neighbours houses asking if they had seen or heard anything. Everyone that answered there door to Shay said they hadn’t seen anything, Shay couldn’t believe this as it was only 6 o’clock in the evening and this must of happened in broad daylight. Kelly had called the police and then called someone to board up the windows. The police arrived 2 hours later; they looked at the graffiti and damage to the house and told Shay it was probably kids. Shay asked them what they were going to do about it.

One of the police men said “Well Sir, unless someone saw something there is not a lot we can do”. Shay shook his head and before he could say anything that would get him into trouble Kelly butted in and thanked the officer and asked him for a crime number for the insurance. The police man told her to call the station tomorrow and they would give her one, she thanked the officer again and showed them to the door.

When Kelly came back into the living room Shay said “Did you see one of them coppers, the fucker was loving it, fucking old bill, I can’t believe this”. Kelly told him to calm down and said “Does it matter Shay we are moving soon and we will make sure no one knows where the new address is”.

Shay stood there still fuming and replied, “Yeah I can’t fuck wait to get out of this place”. Kelly smiled and replied “Yes Shay a fresh start”. The next day the papers were full of the story about the press conference, a lot of the papers went with the story of Shay’s disgraceful act of hitting Gary Britain and how well Gary held his temper and acted like a true champion.

They had even miss quoted Shay by saying he was an I.R.A sympathizer. Shay sat there reading the papers in shock at how they had portrayed him as the bad guy. Some papers were more sensible still condemning Shay’s actions of hitting Gary Britain, but commending him on word about not supporting terrorism. One paper even had an exclusive interview with Gary Britain with him telling them that Dempsey just lost his temper for no reason and said it was probably because Shay knew he was going to lose the title fight. Shay showed Kelly all the articles on the press conference and asked her what they were going to do about it? Kelly shook her head and replied “I don’t know, I’ll call Dexter and ask him what he thinks”. She called Dexter and he told her that the more Shay talked to the press the worst it was going to be, he then said “I think it would be a

good idea to get Shay to go back to New York and train for the fight at Paddy’s Gym instead of Paddy coming over here”. Kelly agreed as he wouldn’t have all the pressure of the British press, Dexter told her he would contact Paddy and let him know and book them on a flight tomorrow.

Kelly told Shay what had been said, he was a bit disappointed about leaving as he thought it was like running away, but agreed and then said he was going to go and see his Mom and then see what Sparky was up to as he would be away again for 3 months.

He went to his Moms and told her he was going away again, she was sad, but could understand why he had to go. She said to Shay “Son, they have used your Irish roots to try and upset you, be proud of them and show the world what the little country your Mom and Dad are from is made of”.

Shay hugged his Mom and told her he loved her and said he was now more determined than ever to win the title. As he got into his car, he called Sparky to see what he was up to; Sparky answered the phone with the words in a fake Irish accent “tiocfaidh ar la, top of the morning to you brother Shay”.

Shay cracked up laughing and replied “Fuck off Sparky that shit ain’t funny”. He then told him about his new plans to set up his training in New York and did he want to come for a drink?

Sparky told him he would call some of the lads and told him to meet them in his local in Kingstanding in an hour’s time. Shay agreed and went to Case’s Gym to see Kenny, when he got there Kenny was just opening up, he told Kenny what was going on and Kenny told him that Dexter had already told him about it. Kenny then said “It’s a bit short notice, but I can see why Dexter and Kelly have chosen for you to train there”.

Shay nodded his head and replied “Yeah it will be good, but I wish you could come over there with us”. Kenny smiled and said “Son I’ll be over in a week’s time, I got Sam Magson looking after the gym, so I’ll be there for all your training”. Shay smiled and said “You’re coming over Ken? That’s brilliant; I’m really started to feel like things are going to go my way”.

Kenny smiled a big smiled and replied with pride in his voice “Yes son, Paddy has asked me to come over, he said he needs my help”. Shay smiled and nodded his head and said “Well it’s going to be good to have the best 2 trainers in the world in my corner”.

After chatting to Kenny for a while Shay left the gym and headed up to meet Sparky at his local. Shay arrived at the pub he walked in and was stunned to see 8 men standing there in a line with balaclavas on their heads. Shay stopped still at the door in shock until one of the hooded men shouted in a terrible fake northern Irish accent “Irish Shay Dempsey, we salute you”.

The 8 men then all saluted him, Shay shook his head and said “Fuck off Sparky, it’s not funny”. The men then took off their balaclavas to reveal Sparky and the boys laughing their heads off.

Shay looked at them and shook his head and then started to laugh himself and said “I suppose you lot all want Guinness then”. Shay and the lads all had a good drink that night, they knew the articles in the papers were rubbish and were all right behind Shay. At the end of the night Shay handed his car keys to Sparky and said “Here you go mate, look after this for the next 3 months”.

Sparky looked at Shay shocked and replied “Are you sure mate? You’re going to let me drive your Range Rover Sport around? Shay smiled and said “Yeah mate, I’m not going to be needing it for a while, just make sure you don’t smash it up that’s a 60 grand car”. Sparky smiled and replied “No mate, I’ll look after it, I don’t need you sending the boys round and blowing my knee caps off”. Shay laughed and shook his head and said “You’re a proper piss taker, just look after it for me”. Shay got a taxi home from the pub, when he staggered into the house; Kelly was their waiting for him. She took one look at him and laughed and said “You had a good night then?” Shay nodded his head and in a slurred voice replied “Ahh hello gorgeous, yeah it’s been good, just had a few pints with the boys that’s all”.

He then walked over to Kelly and started kissing her and telling her how much he loved her, Kelly smiled and told him she loved him to and helped him up the stairs to bed, where he collapsed into a deep, deep sleep.

He got up the next day very worst for wear; he came down the stairs to be greeted by Kelly busily packing bags for their trip to New York. She had already packed Shay’s suit case and was just finishing off hers. Shay walked into the living room gave her a kiss and a hug and asked her if she wanted a coffee or anything? Kelly replied “You haven’t got time to Shay; Dexter’s driver will be here soon to take us to the airport. Have a shower and I’ll make you a coffee while you’re in there. Shay got showered and changed and had just taken a few sips of his coffee when the driver turned up to take them to the airport