It is not my aim here to ridicule the fans of any teams, the teams themselves, the players or their coaches. The ManU fan in the story is a nice chap, and we have enjoyed many a football chat together. However, isn't football to be enjoyed, and by as many people as possible? The dangers of trash-talking is just that, that is, one's talk can turn out to be trash. The poor fellow met his Waterloo in the West Ham-Liverpool FA final, when to his chagrin the predictions he made in an effort to put out Liverpool fans were not matched by what happened on the screen, despite earlier indications that they would. He made an ignominious exit shortly after Reina's third penalty save, slinking speedily and silently out of the TV Room. I feel it is the latest in a long line of ignominious exits, and if he continues with his brand of fanaticism, I fear it is not the last. The Arsenal fan is a good friend also; indeed, I could hardly bear to meet him after their Champion's League loss. We all enjoy watching football (I am a Liverpool fan). However…
It was after watching the UEFA Cup Final between a hapless Middlesbrough and a rampant Seville, that a watcher sighed: “It's just too bad that this year both UEFA trophies are going to Spain.” To put this statement into context, dear reader, please keep in mind that it was made a full week before the Arsenal-Barcelona final. Naturally, the mischievous originator of this statement was a ManU fan. An Arsenal fan chanced to hear the remark. We shall mildly say that it raised his hackles. His head whipped round and his eyes probed like gimlets until he found the source of such uninformed football commentary. “What do you mean?” he asked menacingly. “Anyone with half a football brain knows that Arsenal are going to win next week.” The ManU fan rose, er, manfully to the occasion. “I can already see the headlines and photos next week,” he sighed sadly. “Below the headline 'Goals Galore!' there will be a full-page photo of an inconsolable Thierry Henry.”
It was at this point that my eyebrows began to rise.
“We're going to win!” said the Arsenal fan. “Just you wait and see. We shall not be labouring under the pressure of having to win to get back into the Champion's League, seeing as we already have 4th place under our belts…”
“Ha!” said the ManU fan, now clearly in his element. “You guys poisoned the entire Tottenham team to get 4th place. Are there no depths to which you can sink? Kwanza I hear that Tottenham have appealed for a rematch.”
“Rematch kitu gani?! We're through fair and square! Who can prove that Tottenham were food-poisoned? Those kind of allegations should be subjected to the scrutiny of a court of law.”
There was a brief hairy sound as my eyebrows exited via the ceiling. Fine, perhaps there was a point here, but to subject the matter to the attentions of a worshipful judge was perhaps going a bit too far…?
“A court of law?” asked the ManU fan, enjoying himself.
“A – court – of – law?” repeated the ManU fan, deliciously, rolling the phrase around in his mouth, and relishing the prospect of a regular verbal joust.
“Yes!” the room reverberated with the echoes of the syllable.
“Ha!” said the ManU fan. “Court of law, my foot! That scoreline should be erased and the game replayed with all the Tottenham players in full health!”
“But you can't just erase a football scoreline just like that,” said the Arsenal fan.
“Ahhh,” said the ManU fan slowly. The world hung on his next phrase. “That's just the problem. A rematch is entirely possible!”
“You can't! Once a score has been gazetted…”
By now my eyebrows were dodging low-flying aircraft. I am not a lawyer (indeed my knowledge of the laws of the United Kingdom is only at this moment growing in leaps and bounds courtesy of a fast-approaching examination), but the suggestion that football scores have pride of place in the London Gazette alongside statutes passed and notices of changes in companies' registered addresses was to me, news.
“Gazetted?” roared the ManU fan. “Even you which hole did you crawl out of, bana! Ati football scores are gazetted?”
“Yes!” said the Arsenal fan, with admirable sureness-of-self. “And stop interrupting me! I was in the middle of saying that once football scores have been gazetted they cannot be reversed…”
The ManU fan left shortly after, chuckling evilly, for his dubious task of sowing seeds of discord done. The Arsenal fan turned to me, breathing heavily. “Lakini that guy is just a fanatic of ManU.”
Now, it is the mark of the true fan that he/she views all actions carried out by fans of other teams as fanatical, but, colossally log-in-eye, any actions or statements originating from himself/herself are just the right point of view. This distinguishes the fan from the mere follower. It was my considered opinion that the Arsenal fan was just as fanatical about Arsenal as the ManU fan was about ManU, minus the evil intent. I endeavoured to put this to him as gently as possible. The response was immediate. “No, no, no,” he said raising his hands as if to ward off the unjust accusation. “Me I am not a fanatic! Me I only analyse…”
I am yet to hear from my eyebrows.
P.S. Happy World Cup, everyone!