Once upon a time………..

28 10 2008

…..in a land not so far away, a match of association football was played. It has become historic for two simple reasons; the surroundings and the outcome. The match has been shrouded in myth and legend; many, many, many versions have been heard over the years but what you are about to read is the authorised version. The exhaustive research of the Jet Set’s has discovered an actual witness of the event. Ladies and gentleman, the true story of a true fan;

“Ah yes I remember it well, it was during that period of uncertainty because of the bankers and the economy. No-one felt comfortable, no-one felt safe, it all felt hopeless, you just can’t imagine how bad it was. I knew one person who had to sell his own teeth. I knew another who threw himself out of his bedroom window because he felt helpless, luckily he lived in a bungalow.

Football was our main way of coping. We played and played until we had to sell the ball for food. Then we used a potato but they became so expensive (you had to exchange a house for one) we had to stop using one. In the end it was either play or go to watch the blues. We chose the blues.

You should have seen the team we had then, they played the game the way it should be and they never gave up. We had this player, I don’t remember his name but he always wore number 9, bloody hell what a player!! He could run through walls and still keep the ball, someone told me that he once ran through a minefield and came out the other side still dribbling. Number 10, he was quick! Number 4, nothing got past him. I’m sorry I can’t remember names but it was a long time ago.

There was one match I remember very clearly. The opponents were disliked, I wouldn’t say hated, hate is so strong. If we were talking about Churchil I could use the word but not football, football is just a game, the ballet of the masses, the pretty game, the noble waste of time, oh dear I appear to be rambling, where was I?

Oh yes, the other team were just so so different you could spot it a mile off. When everybody else was scrimping and saving they were literally throwing money around. After matches they would have these great big fights using wads and wads of real money then they would burn the money because it was unclean. If anyone criticised them they used to say that they were jealous, we weren’t jealous, we were broke. I don’t want to moan for ages about them for ages let’s just say they weren’t too popular around our parts.

Because football was our be all and end all we looked forward to each match. Before this match the weather was particularly bad; rain, rain, rain all day. We all thought the match was off. The only thing that kept our spirits up was licking the moss off the walls to keep the house clean (we’d had to sell all our cleaning utensils.). They announced the match was on and we were delirious, although this may have been on account of the moss.

The match was due to begin and the teams were lined up; us on one side, them on the other. Their white strip reminded you that they thought they were a cut above. The difference was unmistakable. We were us, they were them. You just had to look at their team, we knew every single one of them earned more in a week than we did in 18 months. It made you sick with disgust, we just had to beat them!!

The match started and our underdogs had the better of it; they couldn’t cope with our spirit. We might not have had the money but by God we had the spirit. We were first to every ball, we were quicker, sharper, more attractive, had better haircuts. All they could do was play the long-ball game, as was the style at the time. Unfortunately this led to their goal. Despondency reigned after this.

We may have been working class but we encouraged our team to play nice football. Unfortunately every attempt at artistry we attempted met their brick wall, a brick wall that wasn’t quite plumb, if you know what I mean. They tried every trick and got away with it; tickling, pulling, pinching, name-calling, assault and battery, drunken disorderly, drunk in charge of a football. Unfortunately, referees then weren’t what they are now so they were allowed to carry on unpunished. We may taken matters into our own hands but we’d only lost all our money not our manners.

The time gradually ran out so we arrived at ninety minute mark still behind. Our heroes were on their way out, our gloom wasn’t going to be lifted, our depression would continue. Then!! The ball arrived into the area!!! Our player swang at it with his boot, he missed, oh no!! He wasn’t finished though, the spirit we’d helped to instill in him came to the fore; he tried again!! This time he hit the ball and the ball hit the net. We all felt fantastic, the underdogs had stuck it up ’em and they don’t like it up ’em.

Extra-time  was tense but we scored again and then we scored a third. The third was a fantastic move; pass after pass, touch after touch, shot after pass – Goal!!! We’d kept to our principles and it had worked; beauty had beaten brawn, intelligence had beaten slow-wittedness, class had beaten money. This was a victory for all the little people suffering in the economic climate. We celebrated long and hard after this. The historic celebrations actually led to my limp but that’s another story for another day. Thanks for listening”

So there we have it. It’s a privilege to think we shared in this story, how different it was then!! The days of seeing such a match ever again are long gone, the circumstances are long gone. What a loss to us all.

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