Something For The Weekend (143)
Suffering, as I do, from a mild version of emotional dwarfism, just short of actual Asperger's or autism, the sad lack of Villa news this week has not been much of a problem and the risk of genuine personal
disclosure, which is always avoided at all costs by your average bloke, has been very slight indeed.
For your genuine football-obsessive a lack of actual information, is not really a problem and any footy-fan worth his salt, can easily posit any number of hypotheses, produce fairly convincing-looking affidavits and then proceed to riff upon the chosen subject for hours. And, I might add, with absolute conviction. Having strong and certain opinions is a very blokish thing, and if stopped for directions, they have even been known to send someone the wrong way, rather than face the shame of telling them that they didn't know - I know I have.
Even when the subject matter as seemingly trivial as the question as to how Villa's manager likes his tea, things can still get a bit stormy. I tend to think that Martin might occasionally go for a drop of Earl Grey, especially when he's entertaining, but the rest of the time, I reckon a nice strong cup of Ulster brown, would be his brew-ordinaire. And what about his preference in drinking vessels? Is it a china cup and saucer or a mug with 'The Best Boss In The World' printed on the side? Biscuits are something else entirely - does he go for the Fox's selection (if so, which sort does he covet?), McVitie's chocolate digestives (rather decadent), or does he send out to Lidl for a taste of Europe on the cheap? (those Celtic memories) But I don't care what anyone says, there's no way he's into Hobnobs - that would make him a dunker and Martin is definitely no dunker. And, as far as I know, there hasn't been a dunker at Villa Park since Steve Hodge left the club.
Different affiants offer convincing evidence from various stages of the man's career and it seems, if we are to allow hearsay to be admissible, that back at Wycombe Wanderers he was almost certainly a coffee man and that his time at Norwich was curtailed because they only did tea - he had nothing against tea but it became a point of principle. At Leicester he is said to have made the slow transition to bottled water, as he sought to emulate the scientific management of Arsene Wenger. At Celtic, the water, due to obvious cultural considerations, was dropped for Irn-Bru. For Villa fans the only question, is whether Martin has a rigid philosophy as regards beverages.
As is well known, all clairvoyants and spiritual mediums are called Doris, and this applies equally to football diviners and prognosticators. Doris, is always your best source for transfer rumours, however unlikely, and once she/he has gone into a trance and asked if there is a Kevin, Andy or even a Nigel there(this week apparently), discussions can begin. This is where the real fun starts, as even without Doris's help, all you have to do is pick a name, and if he's any good, explain why he is unlikely to come, and if he's rubbish, why you don't want him. There are a surprising number of Villa fans called Doris.
Inevitably the game of Doris runs out of steam, only to be resumed later, and it is at this point, even the most devoted Villa obsessives must address the strange and alien world of England and even other clubs. But if you look hard enough there's always a Villa connection. For instance, it is not difficult to argue that Villa started the decline of Leeds United, via Savo's boot (Wembley 1996), which precipitated the sacking of Wilkinson. This seems like ingratitude, to a club which provided one of the most famous goals of all time, which is always in a Villan's top 50, when Revie's side passed the ball amongst themselves for about twenty minutes, before scoring against a dizzy-looking Birmingham City team. Leeds fans tend to mention that a change of ownership at the club, prompted the changes and let Villa off. Still, the shit that Leeds find themselves in, doesn't come much deeper, whoever started it. They have quite a habit of changing their kit and badge, and should they survive this latest disaster, an all brown strip with a scarab beetle for the crest, would suit them well. Some might say that, for selling Eric Cantona to Man United, no punishment is too severe.
England, must be considered as football in abstract, as unless Michael Owen becomes a Villa player (speak to Doris), it is just an invidious reminder of how some players, even when one of their legs recently belonged to a dead man, can walk straight back into the team, no matter what their form or fitness happens to be, where a player like Gareth Barry, who is still in possession of both his original legs (as far as I know), is generally buggered about. The treatment of Beckham, upholds the best traditions of English hypocrisy, where not covered by the Gareth Barry situation. While creating most of the meagre amount of quality on view, including most of the assists, he is asked not to do anything likely to excite the jealously of his team-mates. This amounts to banning him from press-conferences and smuggling him off the team bus in a trunk.
What are they like? What the f**k are they on? About a hundred grand a week, at least!
And, until the press-conference happens (imminent according to Doris), when they unveil the latest Villa signing, that is about all a Villa fan can do. Or, given nothing better to feed on, speculate on the security arrangements, surrounding Paris Hilton's prison sentence, especially at shower-time, and wonder, if they need any more volunteers, or if there will be a video.
Like most Villa fans - I'm sad but true.
By Steve Wade