Something For The Weekend (96)
By Steve Wade
It is beginning to look like I will not reach an apotheosis. I can't say I am glad about it because I spent too many days in my youth, dreaming of playing for the Villa or wowing them at the Isle Of Wight festival, to pretend it was what I wanted for myself but hey, it could have been worse. Life has its peaks of course but for most people, when they are standing at the summit, it is so clouded and the view so obscured, all scale and perspective is lost. It's only in retrospect, much later, when they are standing in some hitherto unanticipated trough, that they recognise the high.
But like the many, I lead my life of quiet desperation and through life's rough and tumble find that at some point, with all notions of the resounding victory set aside, I am just glad to keep going. Life's dream of the sublime, turns into a rather unthrilling appreciation of the mundane and time once spent dreaming, is now passed counting blessings. Former heroes fall and fail, most victories seem pyrrhic. All mountains are washed to the sea. Or so the meek must keep telling themselves, prior to actually inheriting the earth.
The other problem with the personal apotheosis is that it turns people into bores, who then spend their lives being defined by a single exploit which they tend to bang on about for ever. Even a childhood hero like Bobby Charlton, who was a splendid chap and an England Great and all that, as we all know, can be reduced to a figure of fun by Alistair McGowan's hilarious impression of him, going on about some goal he scored at Tottenham, countless decades past. There's something a bit sad about it and even Villa old boys, who still hang around the edges of the game, have me thinking that perhaps they should get a life. But look who's talking.
Its not their fault of course because the fans are all too eager to kiss their arses, to an extent that has no relationship to what they thought of them when they actually wore the shirt. Then there is the mythology the media love to indulge in, which has very little to do with the actual truth. For instance, if you take the April 29th 1972 edition of the Sports Argus, on the front page, right under the headlines declaring Villa champions (Villa 5 Torquay 1), there is an article lamenting the news that Ramsey, had named Bobby Moore as centre-half to mark Gerd Muller, as Bobby had not been a success last time he'd done the job. So it seems he wasn't a paragon after all. But at least Bobby had to die young to get his place in the pantheon and he did actually win something.
These days, it seems, now that the media hype is coupled to some sort of turbo, promotion to the pantheon comes rather more easily. In the case of Alan Shearer, they are already chiselling his craggy features into football's Mount Rushmore and he hasn't even stopped playing yet. The worrying thing is, that if he is so willing to trade on his Mary Poppins reputation, as he did this week to attack a young England player, when his own actual shortcomings are still fresh in most people's memories, then what sort of boring old fart is he going to grow into, once the memories fade and his image is further cleansed by the media's legendary selective memory syndrome?
Alan Shearer was a very decent striker at his peak but he was also willing to bend the rules to an extent that it often looked like cheating. An elbow here and a shove in the back there. I also seem to remember that he had the habit of falling over a lot and in his latter games for England, that is all he ever seemed to do. So what is the difference between that and Wright-Phillips taking flight, when he thought he is going to be body-checked. What is the difference between that and the countless advantages Shearer took, whenever he had the opportunity. Ask the Boz from Oz. And when Michael Owen dived against Argentina in the famous result
(Beckham scored the penalty) did Shearer find it an unacceptable aspect of the game and did he say so? I somehow doubt it.
So having faced up to the fact, myself, that there will be no place for me in the pantheon, I have to take my satisfactions and consolations where and when I can get them - something has to keep me going. I can laugh at Shearer's self-deluded claptrap and know that he is either destined for a life amongst the luvvies, modelling Marks & Spencer's clothes, or, if he's brave enough, he can decide to prove that all the dressing-room influence he wielded with such devastating effect at Newcastle and I might add, at the cost of quite a few people's jobs, has a bit more substance to it and go into football management himself. But whatever he chooses, sooner or later, I expect to see him on Parkinson, with dear Michael's hand on his thigh. Remember Botham?
In relation to our hero's fate, I am very much like the guy in the joke, who gets three wishes off a genie. The trouble is that whatever the guy wishes for himself, his worst enemy gets twice as much. So the guy asks for a million quid and his enemy gets two million. The guy then asks for two of the most beautiful women in the world and the his enemy gets four. Then for his final wish, he thinks for a while and then asks the genie for his sex-drive to be halved.
Being a nobody is nothing to shout about but the fate of superannuated heroes can look rather sad. Losing four-one to Everton was a sickener but losing seven-nil is kind of worse.
I guess I'll count my blessings and just try and keep going.