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  • David Brent


Updated: Oct 7, 2019

In the late summer of 2012 as the middle classes flocked to east London with their £500 tickets to watch a day of athletics, arguments raged over who would take the credit for the event which came at a price of £8 billion, displaced countless families and businesses and cost the life of a construction worker.

However, 200 miles north of the capital an event far more era defining than seeing a 400 metre runner from Russia dope their way to a gold medal was taking place.

The air was thick with a mix of weed, cigarettes and cheap lager. 75,000 pairs of Adidas Gazelles trampled over empty B&H packets, burger wrappers and those annoying cardboard pint cups that become almost unusable after five minutes. Everyone walked with the same swagger, head-to-toe in sports casual gear, topped off with a bucket hat. As the sun set, four blokes in their 50's walked out on stage in front of their home town crowd at Heaton Park in Manchester to The Supremes 'Stoned Love'. The resurrection was complete.

Fans had waited for over 15 years for The Stone Roses to make their comeback, most believed it would never happen. Chippy fans have had to wait subsequently less time to be reunited with Dan Whitehead but to many the return of 'Big Dan' is comparable to the resurrection of a seminal Manchester rock group all the same. Both came to define a generation.

Whitehead was responsible for the recruitment of Jon Walton, Theo Mizzi, Lewis Crossland, Tom Watson, Ant Stonehewer and John Watts to the Chippy. All key components in the 2016/17 Central London Super Sunday League Champions League winning side and all still with the current squad.

That cup win on a boiling hot day in Walthamstow was Whitehead's crowning glory and cemented his place as a veritable club legend. In the days leading up to the cup final the Chippy were sadly, but not surprisingly, let down by the age old problem of having no regular goalkeeper. Calls and texts were sent out across London to no avail. It was left for manager Whitehead to don the gloves and famous pink jersey, the result is etched in to footballing folklore. He performed exceptionally, as did everyone in blue, as Chippy beat Royal Wells 2-1 in smash and grab victory in front of the watching hordes of Wells fans and Jon Walton's Mum and Dad.

Whitehead vanished in to the sunset that balmy evening to start a family in the leafy suburbs of Surrey. It was expected that Big Dan would once again be a permanent fixture on the touchlines of Clapham Common, however, that would prove not to be the case and the Chippy were left managerless. The following season saw Chippy fall out of the title race by Christmas and out of the cup at the semi-final stage - they were a ship without a rudder.

Many of the current squad don't understand why the Tottenham man is held in such high regard. The Sheffield Star contacted fan favourite Declan Harvey for a comment on the return of Whitehead, his response: "Who is Big Dan?" is the only evidence required to support that theory.

For the avoidance of doubt, Whitehead is back involved with the club and has recently taken a job upstairs at Clapham Common in a Director of Football role. But after a 6-1 humbling at the hands of Sporting Continental he has surprisingly - and without warning - opted to pull on the boots once again. Sources close to the club insist that Stonehewer should not be concerned by the reawakening of a sleeping Chippy giant.

For those who weren't disciples of his work with the Chippy previously, his performance in the 8-1 pre-season win over Exonians FC was enough to make them believers. Those who already took communion at the altar of Whitehead became martyrs after his second coming.

With Whitehead back in the holiest of places, the Chippy squad, goals flowed like consecrated wine as Jonny Plowman, Charlie Mitchell and Dan Wilshire all scored braces. Last season's 'Manager's Player of the Year' award recipient Luke Flannigan matched his goal haul from last term by scoring once. The returning Harry Ingham was amongst the goals once again, no great surprise for followers of the club.

If the absence of Whitehead felt like 40 days and 40 nights in the Judaean Desert then the return of Harry Ingham after just one game away felt like the moment Jesus Christ himself was conceived, short-lived and painless.

Stonehewer has a bona fide Garden of Eden to pick from when it comes to his playing squad. When asked about this point, captain for the day Phil Gray told the Star: "Very much like Adam did for Eve, I'd give a rib for these boys!" It's a gutsy statement from the stand-in skipper but, as the editor notes, Prince had a rib removed - albeit for very different reasons - and look how that ended.

Jeff's Chippy 8-1 Exonians FC

Goals: Plowman x2, Mitchell x2, Wilshire x2, Flannigan, Ingham

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