Monday, 12 March 2012

Won't somebody think of the glory hunting children?

The business end of the football season is upon us, and that is the time when big fat bouncers and people who list "armed robber" as their occupation on tax returns don't mind crying in public. People get so invested in their football squadrons, I find. I think the fact that I don't - that I don't feel that relegation from one league into another is particularly likely to be the cause of the earth ceasing to go round the sun (or vice versa, if you are a Catholic) or suchlike - is probably one key reason that helped me come to the realisation that my interest of football is a fleeting affair at best.

However, I reckon these big fat maniacs can pretty much take care of themselves. They own firearms, for one thing, but also they are adults - they know the way of the world and the way that, essentially, we're all ultimately fucked.

Little children, on the other hand, I do feel sorry for. On the train home the other day, surrounded by Portsmouth fans (some disguised as human beings) on their way home from watching their team get their arse handed to them on a plate by Brighton and Hove Albion, I saw a boy. He was probably 7 or 8 years old. He was intently reading the official Chelsea FC magazine.

I know enough about football to know that Chelsea are currently the laughing stock of British football. A man who looks like a Muppet bought them 10 years ago and started a craze for unimaginably wealthy people from foreign lands who don't give a shit about football buying English football teams to play with. Unfortunately for Chelsea, as they were the first, others have now superseded them and Chelsea look a bit tatty round the edges, a team full of no-hopers, people who look like the Predator, people who have to go to court on suspicion of saying racist things at the point of orgasm with someone else's wife, the elderly, the useless and a brilliant Dada performance artist called Fernando Torres.

It is the nature of people that they will always want to follow things which are going to be successful. It's why the Labour party need to get rid of Ed Miliband as leader if they want to win the next General Election. However, it is also the nature of people that once they have made the decision, a modicum of loyalty is expected of them. Floating voters in football may be a lucrative market (urgh) but they are not people who gain an awful lot of respect from their peers.

Which brings me back to the little glory hunting kiddie. Maybe I have done him wrong. Maybe he was born in Kensington or Knightsbridge. But if he was, what was he doing on a train to Littlehampton (replacement bus services to Portsmouth) past his bedtime on a Saturday night? With him was his hatchet-faced ma, carrying a Chelsea bag. Maybe they'd been up to the Bridge that day. People from Sussex supporting teams in London is fairly common, after all. Chelsea and Arsenal tend to be the favourites, something of an overhang from the days fifteen years ago where Brighton were rubbish, homeless and teetering on the brink of non-league status and oblivion. However, now they are not (observe):

The Albion, lustily chasing Premier League football because we like humiliation on a massive scale

but LOYALTY (and the chance of actually winning things, admit it you filthy glory hunting bastards) by then has kicked in. Fair enough. If you've been watching Chelsea since 1998, as well as being poor, you will have been there through varying fortunes (well, relatively speaking).

But the little kid! The little kid! He's only known Chelsea the soulless husk who buy their way out of trouble (yeah, right) going for the league and the cups and the European Cup (yeah, right). Eventually the realisation is going to hit him that his beloved Chelsea are, in fact, shit. He's too young to understand football economics, or even the fact that to be discussing business and economics in the context of football is obscene. All he'll know is that his Manchester City and Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur (yeah, right) supporting friends in the playground are now laughing at him, for however long that lasts. And then he will cry.

So, my message to the new breed of owners of English football clubs is, you are making little kids cry. Maybe not now. Maybe not for five years after you invested £286 million to win the League Cup. But it will happen. And you know it, don't you? Maybe you like that. Maybe it gives you an erection. Shame on you.

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