WHEN I talk about brief encounters, my brush with the one with the short fat hairy legs was indeed brief… barely time to even cough.
It was 19 September 1981 (I can be precise about the date, because of the dedication of football statisticians) and I had caught a train from my home in Barnsley to Leeds. The object of the trip was to indulge in a spot of music and clothes shopping.
I stood outside Leeds City Station, adjacent to the Leeds Hilton Hotel, momentarily deciding whether to stop for a coffee or attack the Briggate shops.
The area outside the station concourse was particularly busy, even for a Saturday, and uniformed police officers appeared everywhere.
Football fans daubed with red and white scarves milled around us.
It quickly dawned on me that this was the day of one of the First Division’s grudge fixtures at Elland Road… Leeds United versus Arsenal.
I therefore decided to avoid the crush and catch a coffee when suddenly a shining black limousine pulled up alongside me.
From behind me a hotel doorman politely said: “excuse me”. But before I could move aside the rear driver’s side door of the limo’ opened and a smiling grey haired man alighted.
It was Little Ern.
He was recognised instantly by a few Arsenal supporters to my right.
One shouted: “Are you going to the match Ernie?”
I stood frozen to the spot as the comic replied: “Of course!”
Then spontaneously I coughed: “Arsenal!”
I could feel my face reddening, as Ernie turned with a huge grin and winked at me, before disappearing into the hotel lobby.
My one brief moment of comic fame was gone in a cough.
I guess it could all have been a moment from a Morecambe and Wise sketch, with Ernie coughing and Eric shouting Arsenal!