The Young Team

Graeme Armstrong | 11 mins

Urban Legends


The rain n wind ir fuckin howlin. We’re aw stood intae a wee corner oot the wet n away fae the eager eyes ae Strathclyde’s finest. At weekends our area is jumpin wae polis, aw lookin tae bust yi. They never wanted tae git their boots muddy walkin doon the Mansion but, so yi wur usually safe in here. There’s two community polis that sometimes ventured doon n busted cunts rollin joints, the fat wan called Muldoon n the skinny wan we aw called the Roadrunner, cos he’s rapid. The elder wans hud told us aboot the polis raidin it once, before we aw knew ae the place’s existence. Swore they came through the doors wae a big snappy German shepherd. The troops wur steamin, launchin themselves oot the broken windaes. A git told wan even salmon-leapt tae escape, but landed in a big fuckin pile ae jaggies. He says a big fat polis looked oot the windae n muttered ‘fuck that’ n left him lyin in the nettles.

The buildin we’re in is a beauty. Elder cunts hud ripped aw the copper n lead oot the place. Easy a few hundred quids’ worth n a big juicy copper boiler. There’s always the sound ae water runnin where they ripped a pressurised mains pipe oot. The constant wee flow, peaceful as it is, is testament tae the fact that no cunt gives a fuck aboot the place. It’s forgotten n left fur the woods tae take back. On the left ae the hoose there’s a big archway. When yi walk underneath it there’s a wee secret door that leads tae another room wae nae windae. We brought a few candles up n sat them aboot tae see in the dark. Should the polis huv appeared they wouldnae know if we wur tokin a half-ounce or conductin a fuckin séance.

The stables stand tae the right wae a big stone courtyard in front. Inside there’s aw the individual booths fur the horses. It’s aw wooden-built inside n there’s steps leadin up tae a wee balcony. The wee windae panes above ir aw dirty n a good few ir panned in. There’s roots n loads ae weeds growin fae the stone floor.

On the left side ae the courtyard there’s a big massive barn. The barn hus been plastered and emulsioned white inside but we spray-painted it aw wae our mentions, the Young Team symbol – a Y wae a T through it. YTP is painted anaw – that stood fur Young Team Posse. Every gang usually hus a second name, fuck knows why. Yi kin say either YT or YTP, it means the same. Elder wans tended tae know it as the YTP but, cos it sounded cooler n that. The Toi wans, our enemies, write Y TOI or TOI BOIZ or YTB fur Young Toi Boiz.

Rainy, pishy days like this, we always sit in the Mansion. Nae other young team aboot here hus a fuckin hideout like ours. It’s creepy-lookin, a mad dark hoose in the woods. Sometimes if yi walked roon yirsel tae meet the troops yi wid feel a bit para n hang aboot ootside smokin a fag before they showed up, then bounce in bold as brass. The light closes in around the broken corridors ae the Mansion at this time n the woods git darker outside. Wee Kenzie starts tellin a story. We’re aw watchin fur him hoggin the joint but he passes it over before startin, takin an extra big draw tae dae him. It makes its way roon the rotation, orange bombers fallin fae the tip. The tune playin oot a tinny bassless phone speaker is DJ Mangoo, ‘Eurodancer’.

‘Boays … the cunt is fuckin mental.’

‘Phhft … thinks he’s fuckin mental,’ Broonie shouts.

‘Naw mate … the cunt is actually aff his nut.’

‘Wit’s the script wae him?’ Finnegan says fae behind a Mayfair.

‘Well put it this way … he’s wan ae the tap men aboot here, ran aboot wae they Toi wans. Aw our elder wans caught him doon the street n he ran right intae them n started swingin cunts aboot. That’s how he became the tap man.’

‘A thought Matty n Div wur the tap kiddies?!’

‘Aye, but they’re only Tam’s age. These ir right elder cunts in their twenties.’

‘Aye, they two ir meant tae be some fighters, but that Jamesy Maynard is a mental cunt, man. A’ve heard ae him. He runs aboot wae heavy gangsters.’

‘Fuckin cardboard gangsters!’

‘Boys, A’m tellin yi, he’s a mental cunt! Tam used tae talk aboot him when he started high school, they wur aw still there. Noo that Jamesy’s a big dealer n sells nine-bars n swedgers.’

‘Aye right, man. Cunt’s no Al Capone, Kenzie! You hink everycunt’s mental!’ Danny says, laughin.

The rain is comin in the smashed windaes wae the howlin wind. It’s Friday 29 October. This week is a fuckin buzz cos yi huv Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night anaw. We wurnae goin oot guisin fur Halloween anymore but it’s a good excuse fur a swally n tae see some elder burds dressed up in wee costumes n heels n stockings. We’re in third year at high school n me n aw ma pals just started swallyin oot on the streets properly. Before that, it wis stolen beers fae yir maws n das, nuhin major. Noo, we’re oot gittin proper cargos wae the troops. Everywan in school wid be oot on-it at the weekend. Monday tae Thursday in school is aw aboot the tellin ae yir tales ae valour fae Friday n Saturday. How much wine yi drank, wit burds yi wur shaggin (or tryin tae shag), who yi wur fightin wae n wit drugs yi took.

Obviously, A’ve hud ma hole. A’ve never lied aboot it. A pulled an elder burd, ma big cousin’s pal. Paula Cook, hur name is. A wis only thirteen n she wis sixteen, wee bit chubby A’m no gonnae lie. Cook by name, cook by nature n aw that. She wis heavy geein me the eye. Ma cousin wis laughin hur heed aff. Yass! The wee man’s gonnae pop his cherry n that wis it. We went a walk back tae hur bit. She hud an empty, hur maw n that wur away on a night oot. Easy does it, man. The younger burds fae our bit ir aw goody-fuckin-two-shoes n don’t really run aboot the streets. The elder chicks ir wit it’s aw aboot. They’re the bad wans who smoke n drink n that. There’s a few absolute tidies that hang aboot wae the YT who ir worth chasin. They’re elder but n yi say awright in passin but we huvnae really spoke tae them yit.

There’s fantastical fuckin tales how cunts got their hole. At the caravans at Craig Tara? At yir grans in Glesga? Nae bor, mate. Next fur the Azzy boy wis Sophie McKay. She’s a couple ae year elder anaw n got ma number fae somebody n asked us tae meet hur. Same sketch again, doon tae hur bit n nae fuckin aboot. The elder burds didnae dae much outside. Right intae a nice warm gaff, Oasis on, dae it properly. Meant every time, fae then on, A heard ‘Champagne Supernova’, A got a semi thinkin aboot it. Naw, yi huv tae treat the lassies wae respect n that. Fuckin hope cunts wid dae the same fur ma big cuz, Stacey. A kin obviously take the moral superiority cos A’m no a daft virgin n A dae on regular occasions. No a fuckin bully but – hate they cunts.

There’s six ae us in the stables. We’re the troops our age. Three ae us ir fourteen n the other three ir fifteen awready. There’s ma best mate, Danny Stevenson. We’ve been best muckers fae our maws planked us doon next tae each other on the playgroup mat in the village hall. We’ve grew up the-gither, drunk our first beers the-gither n our first bottle ae wine wis halved between us. He’s a tall thin cunt, always git a Lacoste tracky on n never git Nike Air Max trainers aff his feet. He’s a perfectly healthy cunt but he’s git a thin face n black pockets roon his eyes. It gees yi the impression he’s always growlin at everywan he looks at. The burds must like the scowly look cos he dis nae bad. His maw n da huv git a wee bit ae poppy tucked away, enough tae git a whinin Danny his fuckin Lacoste tracksuits. The spoilt cunt’s moanin fur a Berghaus jakit, a Mera Peak. The weather is pish here, especially the night, but our dossin aboot the streets doesnae qualify fur a high quality mountaineer’s jakit, complete wae storm flaps, a map pocket n Gore-Tex lining … two hundred and fifty bucks. A’ve asked fur wan anaw but it wis just a token request. Ask fur suhin daft n you’ll end up wae few score notes in yir hand. A prefer that anyway. A Berghaus wid be minted but. It’s the quintessential fashion piece ae the Scottish ned, n if yi huv wan, yir a made man.

The other troops ir Shaun Brown n John McKenzie, Broonie n Wee Kenzie, they git called. Broonie is a wee Nazi-lookin cunt. Always hus a skinheed n a wee devious look aboot him. He’s harmless but cos he’s thick as mince. Just a cunt always laughin his wee heed aff at suhin, or playin wae a lighter or matches in the corner. The kinda wee guy yi wouldnae leave yir goldfish wae. The wee cunt wouldnae even huv the initiative tae try n replace it, should it come tae a premature demise. Yi wid come back fae Santa Ponsa n he’d huv stuck a deep-sea diver wae a GONE FISHIN sign, but wid huv furgot the replacement fish. He’s always interested in stuff, pokin aboot n riflin through yir drawers lookin fur suhin or nuhin. Yi hud tae love him.

Wee Kenzie is a different kettle ae fish entirely. He’s a nippy cunt. Hair always gelled perfect n always wae a fitbaw tracky on n a pair ae magic gloves, regardless ae season. He wears a thick silver chain, at least five ounces, over the tap ae the tracky. The reason fur his confidence is hereditary. His da wis a fuckin mad cunt in a scheme years ago n his big brur Tam is the tap man. Obviously, Tam’s brand new wae aw us, cos we’re the younger wans. Always liked me tae, he says, thinks A’m a bold wee cunt. Big Kenzie he gits called, n that’s a name that cunts recognise aboot here.

The last two ir Stephen Finnegan n Paul Addison. Stephen’s both sets ae grandparents ir fae Ireland n he’s never git a Celtic tap aff. He’s wan bitter wee bastert, hell-bent on it. His big cuz taught him up n he kin roll joints n hus mad stories fae other schemes. Finnegan’s da is a butcher n done well so he always hus a fiver in his backburner tae put tae a bottle ir a packet ae fags. If it came tae fitbaw, it wis them n you. Apart fae that, he’s brand new. He’s quite a wee guy, skinny but still wae a wee bit ae veins showin where he’s done the dumbbells. He says he bench-presses ninety wae this big cuz ae his. Cough, fuckin bullshite, cough, cough. Addison is a quieter cunt. He wears the clothes n walks the walk but he keeps it on the doon-low really. His full family is quite middle-class n he stays on wan ae the new Legoland estates. He’s another tall cunt, but hus a skinny build, quite lanky really. He’s the youngest among us anaw, huvin just turned fourteen. Pure perfume boy but a sound cunt nonetheless.

Last but no least, there’s yir main man. Alan Williams. Azzy, A git called. Rangers doft, YT legend in the makin. A’m as tall as Danny, nearly six fit awready. A’ve git dark broon hair, shaved sides n both ears pierced wae gold hoops in. A’d say A’m gittin towards solid. Been dain ma sit-ups n press-ups every mornin n night. A’ve git a Fred Perry tracky on, a black Carbrini parka n Lacoste trainers. Who’s the tap man ae the younger wans? yir probably thinkin. Me n Danny ir the main contenders, but we’d probably never fight wae each other tae find oot. Yir best mate wis always a sacred thing, even among the troops.

Everycunt is hunched in noo, listenin in again tae Wee Kenzie’s story. Noo n again the door wull bang in the wind n everycunt wull jump. A wee bit ae paranoia is healthy in here. Yi never know who’s gonnae come through the doors. If they’ve git a radio n a black uniform, A’d be first oot the fuckin windae. Salmon-leap tae freedom fur the Azzy boy.

‘Aye so where wis A? Aye so that Jamesy Maynard’s sellin shit n then the McIntires think he’s tryin tae muscle in n they tan him a beaut. Big dirty wan right doon his cheek, sir.’

‘Phhft! Heard it!’ Danny shouts.

‘Naw honestly. These boys ir the heavies, man. Different level ae crazy … where wis A, man? FUCKIN PASS THAT, YOU!’ The joint gits handed over wae a grumble. It’s a heavy bad twoz.

Danny’s mutterin fuckin calm it, Janet under his breath. Noted hoggin bastard, Danny is. ‘Bring them oan fuck sake and the Toi wans n we’ll smash them aw!’

‘Danny, shut up, mate, honestly. Yi cannae bounce aboot sayin shit like that aboot these cunts. Somecunt in school wull grass yi fur name-drappin. They’ve git cousins galore n cunts that work fur them.’

‘Ooft, man, wouldnae mess wae they cunts.’

‘How the fuck dae yi know aw this, mate?’

‘Cos Tam told us obviously.’

‘Your big brother’s a fuckin busy man. Think he’s been tellin you ghost stories, mate.’

Everycunt laughs n they start settin up another joint in the Highlander packet. The slab ae Tennent’s gits ripped open and we aw take a tin each n pass a bottle ae Tonic aboot that we aw chipped in fur. Yi huv tae take aw these stories wae a pinch ae fuckin salt. Most ae the wans yi hear ir total fuckin cow dung. A few ae them ir true but. Yi huv tae be careful wit stories yi believe and repeat tae cunts. Cos the grapevine is thick n fast aboot here. Wee Kenzie wisnae talkin pish aboot that.

‘Mate, believe wit yees want, but ma big bro’s been roon the block a few times. Tam’s bought bits tae sell aff aw them. The elder wans in his day wur mad cunts. Pure nineties battles where that Toi wan ended up gittin stabbed aff a Young Team wan. Yees musty heard ae that wan? Fuckin famous troops fae the YTP. Yees huvnae even ran aboot wae the team yit n been in a battle.’

‘Who plugged him then … Tam? Sorry, fuckin Bruce Lee, furgot you’d smashed aw the Toi wans yirsel!’ A say, laughin.

‘Kenzie, you talk as if yir the tap man yirsel, cuz!’ Finnegan says.

Everybody knows Big Kenzie is his wee brur’s hero n it’s an easy shot, so yi huv tae take it. He knew more than aw us cos ae his big brur, but he lived aff Tam’s coat tails. There is always the distinct possibility that some ae his stories ir true. There is mad cunts aboot here tae watch fur n by natural selection some ir our enemies, which makes yi para. The stories aboot our elder Young Team wans gee yi confidence n make yi feel brave n part ae suhin. That’s the yin-yang balance.

‘Wee Kenzie is faster than the fuckin Roadrunner when the trouble starts!’

‘Fuck up, Azzy.’

‘Kenzie, yir talkin pish, mate.’

‘Naw, A’ve actually heard ae a cunt called Jamesy that git slashed.’

‘Aye so yi huv, Broonie!’

‘Yir fuckin maw.’

‘Mate A think your big brother’s Pinocchio. That big fuckin beak ae his anaw.’

‘Ma big brur wid smash you if he heard you sayin that.’

‘Phhft mate, yir big brur couldnae beat eggs.’

‘Mate, ma big brur wid batter your cunt in n don’t doubt it.’

‘Yer maw, ya wee dick.’

‘You dae go on aboot yir brur like he’s a hero but.’

‘Yer maw.’

That’s the way yi learned. As a wee guy, yi hear snippets ae information aboot everyhin. They don’t teach yi how tae survive oot oan the streets in school, or how tae shag, or drink or fight – aw the important stuff. Yi learn fae those that ir elder than yi, the elder wans. Furget PSE, social education. Yi learn fae yir pals, n the army ae big cousins, brurs n elder wans who feel it their duty tae lead and mislead yi tae the form ae truth that the streets offer. Even wee practical things aboot takin drugs, or advice aboot pullin lassies, reads like a ghost story or an urban legend. Exaggerated as fuck, and probably no true, n designed tae scare the shite oot wee boys like us.