The football team was made up of social workers, probation officers and their clients. The clients provided the skill, speed and youth, the social workers the organisational skills, transport and reliability, the probation officers the sharp elbows. The social work lecture who ran the team would occasionally organise a team bonding pub crawl. Usually this went off without incident other than some one getting drunk and a bit silly. We were a multi racial team which was never an issue on the football pitch which probably explains why it didn't figure in our selection of pubs.
I don't know how it started or why it all turned nasty. I went to the toilet and when I came back one of our group was wiping some blood from the corner of his mouth. My friend said ," You missed it, some block just had a go at Lenny for no reason, one moment they were joking the next fists were flying and the table was knocked over". When I came back the other guy had been man handled out of the pub, the table was back up right, the drinks were just a puddle on the floor and one of the bar staff was picking up the plastic beer mugs. Another member of the bar staff politely suggested we leave by the back entrance in case our aggressor and his mates were waiting out the front armed with bottles from the bottle bank in next doors Tesco's car park.
If there was going to be a fight I couldn't see me or my friend being much use. As social workers we relied on talking our way out of trouble. So we talked and sensible heads prevailed, we filed out the back door and the rest of the evening went without incident. But what if it hadn't. What if we had been ambushed outside the pub or some members of our group had sort revenge for the unprovoked attack. What if the ensuing brawl resulted in the police attending and doing what my clients claimed they habitually do which is grab people at random and throw them in the back of the van. A former client in a similar situation was advised by his solicitor to plead guilty on the understanding he would just get a fine. He did but he also got a criminal record!
As social workers and probation officers we often deal with young people who we say seem to attract trouble but for a while there I thought that I might end becoming a client.
Blair McPherson former social worker, right back , author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk