Aleeeee Real Murcia .....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I'm reading Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch for the third time (maybe that's just the gooner in me), but there are some of the things he says, even though he wrote it in the early 90's, are just soooo much how I see football (again....the gooner in me?). Here are a few lines from a chapter called "Clowns" :

""""Arsenal v. Stoke City 13.9.80
....the away team are struggling, unambitious also-rans; their manager wants a draw at Highbury, and plays five defenders, four midfielders who used to be defenders, and a hopeless centre-forward standing on his own up front, ready to challenge for punts from the goalkeeper. Arsenal didn't have the wit to break the opposition down, and maybe we won (with a couple of goals from near post corners, say, or a deflected long shot and a penalty), or maybe we drew (nil - nil), or maybe we lost 1 - 0 to a goal on the break, but it didn't really matter anyway. Arsenal were nowhere near good enough to win the league, yet were far too competent to go down; week after week, year after year, we turned up knowing full well that what we were about to witness would depress us profoundly.

.....nobody, not even someone like me, would have been able to remeber the game had it not been for the post-match press conference, when Alan Durban (Stoke's manager) became angered by the hostility of the jornalists towards his team and his tactics. "If you want entertainment" he snarled, "go and watch clowns".

It became one of the most famous football quotes of the decade. The quality papers in particular loved it for its effortless summary of modern football culture: here was conclusive proof that the game had gone to the dogs, that nobody cared about anything other than results any more, that the Corinthian spirit was dead, that hats were no longer thrown in the air. One could see their point. Why should football be different from every other branch of the leisure industry? You won't find too many Hollywood producers and West End theatre impresarios sneering at the public's desire to be diverted, so why should football managers get away with it?

Over the last few years, however, I have come to believe that Alan Durban was right. It was not his job to provide entertainment. It was his job to look after the interests of the Stoke City fans, which means avoiding defeat away from home, keeping a struggling team in the first division, and maybe winning a few cup games to alleviate the gloom...... and journalists see games in a profoundly different way. In 1969 I saw George Best play, and score, for Manchester United at Highbury. The experience should have been profound, like seeing Nijinsky dance, or Maria Callas sing, and though I do talk about it in that way sometimes, to younger fans, or those who missed Best for other reasons, my fond account is essentially phoney; I hated that afternoon.

.....and I have seen Law and Charlton, Hoddle and Ardiles, Dalglish and Rush, Hurst and Peters, and the same thing happened: I have not enjoyed anything these players have ever done at Highbury. Gazza's free kick against Arsenal in the F.A.Cup semi-final at Wembley was simply astonishing, one of the most remarkable goals I have ever seen, but I wish with all my heart that I had not seen it, and that he had not scored it. Indeed, for the previous month I had been praying that Gascoigne would not be playing, which emphasises the separateness of football: who would buy an expensive ticket for the theatre and hope that the star of the show was indisposed? So where is the relationship between the fan and entertainment, when the fan has such a problematic relationship with some of the game's greatest moments?

.....few of us have chosen our clubs, they have simply been presented to us; and so as they slip from the Second Division to the Third, or sell their best players, or buy players who you know can't play, or bash the ball for the seven hundredth time towards a nine foot centre-forward, we simply curse, go home, worry for a fortnight and then come back to suffer all over again. For my own part, I am an Arsenal fan first and a football fan second..... is an alternative universe, as serious and as stressful as work, with the same worries and hopes and disappointments and occasional elations. I go to football for loads of reasons, but I don't go for entertainment, and when I look around me on a Saturday and see those panicky, glum faces, I see that others feel the same. For the committed fan, entertaining football exists in the same way as those trees that fall in the middle of the jungle: you presume it happens, but you're not in a position to appreciate it. Sports journalists and armchair Corinthians are the Amazon Indians who know more than we do - but in another way, they know much, much less.""""

I could not agree more....and all of this is valid for Real Murcia's real supporters. Not the half baked who wet themselves watching Messi or Ronaldo, and are then ultracritical of anything that doesn't live up to those high standards when served up by their second favorite team.

Do you want to be entertained? Go see the payasos.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, but only partially. Once one is hooked on QPR, Real Murcia, or whoever- one tends to put up with any old rubbish-and I´ve seen plenty. However I think it often needs the inspiration of a real star to hook kids at the beginning. I too saw George Best in 1969, and Rodney Marsh-who I´ve seen nutmeg and piss take "non clown" "hard men" like Dave Mackay and Terry Neill-and around the same time Jimmy Greaves and Charlie Cooke-I ended up with QPR for familly reasons. I,m not sure if less inspiring QPR strikers like Colin Clarke or fading has beens like Mark Falco or Mark "worst ever buy" Hateley (I saw his DAD
    play against Jimmy Greaves)would have got me hooked in the same way.