Cristiano Ronaldo’s burgeoning physical resemblance to a young Cliff Richard. Behold:
Cristiano Ronaldo’s burgeoning physical resemblance to a young Cliff Richard. Behold:
Arsenal vs Bolton: Emmanuel Eboue picks up the ball deep in his own half, and threads a pass out to the wing to a marauding Andrey Arshavin. The diminutive Russian knocks it first time to Samir Nasri, who utilises the ball’s orb shape by fashioning a primitive centrifugal device which is fundamental to the completion of Samir Nasri’s Time Machine, which has been the subject of high-brow dressing room banter for months.
Arsenal vs Stoke: Thomas Vermaelen intercepts a quick free-kick and distributes quickly to Theo Walcott, whose diagonal running creates space in the centre for Nicklas Bendtner. A Walcott backheel wrongfoots Rory Delap, allowing Abou Diaby the chance to play in Bendtner, who plays a transcontintental pass towards Haiti with enough force to reverse the burgeoning tectonic plate movements that threaten a second earthquake.
Arsenal vs Tottenham: A 92-pass move culminates in Tomas Rosicky beating the off-side trap to deliver a tantalising cross. The cross is so very tantalising in fact, that none other than Osama Bin Laden dashes in to the six-yard-box to finish with aplomb, making him easy prey for the authorities who want to try him for crimes against humanity. Rosicky tells a post-match press conference that he’d been practising the technique on the training ground by coaxing low-level offenders and petty thugs with the promise of easy goals.
Arsenal vs Wigan: A sliderule simultaneous nutmeg of Paul Scharner, Titus Bramble, Emmerson Boyce and Titus Bramble again by Bacary Sagna leaves the bizarrely-coiffed Ivorian quite convinced that a through-ball to Eduardo Da Silva might just cure cancer. It peters out, but Arsene Wenger remains convinced that such endeavour will achieve something one day.
Thus began Sky Sports’ coverage of Premiership football. Britain’s eyes can be thankful that intro videos are no longer taking the steroids that made this pre-match hype video akin to the preamble that begins WWF wrestling events. Of course, it’s easy for me to ridicule the hyperbole, but then I forget about the marketing synergy that saw the FA and WWF stage a string of lucrative crossover events during the 1992-93 season. Here are some of the highlights from an exciting, if thoroughly misguided, year.
* Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs. Oldham Athletic’s club badge
I think we all remember this for the merciless slaughter of an owl at the behest of ‘Damien’, the Snakeman’s beloved-but-ruthless pet cobra. Interference from then-Oldham manager Joe Royle with a steel chair was to no avail, but the shocking image of him wobbling down the aisle with a Mitre kit-bag, only to produce said foreign object from within, will endure for generations to come.
* Richard Keys and Andy Gray vs. The Legion of Doom
Pre-match hype was dominated by talk of Team Sky’s inflappable blend of smooth autocue reading and football punditry, but it was no match for the brute force of the LOD. Animal no-sold Keys’ constant declarations that Sky was the only place to see live Premiership Football, crushing him with a powerslam that fractured his anchorman spine. Gray’s prediction that the previous season’s League Champions, Leeds United, would fail to mount a serious title challenge was brushed aside by a pummelling salvo of physical torment (history would, of course, prove Gray right though. Leeds finished 17th in the table that year). Attempted interference from Martin Tyler came to nothing, as the LOD sealed a convincing win with the Doomsday Device.
* Teddy Sheringham vs Hulk Hogan
In theory, this was an ideal choice to main event what proved to be the only SoccerMania pay-per-view. Sheringham had enjoyed a fine first season with Tottenham Hotspur, finishing as the Premiership’s top scorer with 22 goals. However, Hulkamania was running really rather wild at this point, having registered 7.4 on the Richter Scale prior to this contest. It wasn’t to last and, with Hogan’s artistic differences with Christopher Lloyd blighting the filming of Suburban Commando, preparations for this match suffered. That being said, he still scored the win with the giant leg-drop after an attempted through-ball from Sheringham failed to find a marauding Nicky Barmby.
* Wimbledon FC vs. The Natural Disasters, Money Inc., The Nasty Boys, The Steiner Brothers, The Rockers and The Big Boss Man
A classic Survivor Series-style elimination brawl, notable for Efan Ekoku memorably revealing himself to be the alter ego of ‘The Bird Man’ Koko B. Ware, before siding with his WWF cohorts. This shocking turn wasn’t tolerated by Vinnie Jones, who kicked him in the gob, but still claimed to have played the ball. After a spate of quick-fire pin-fall eliminations, Wimbledon’s surviving pair of Hans Segers and John Fashanu faced the daunting task of fighting off four men. Fashanu’s top-rope elbow drop despatched of Earthquake, while Segers saw off Typhoon with a small package. Segers was soon pinned by Brian Knobbs, and with a sole Fashanu seemingly beaten, Dean Holdsworth emerged from under the ring to clean house, sealing the shock win with a nutmeg through the legs of The Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase.
Though I certainly consider myself too cool for school, I also consider myself too old for school. Social practices are flaunted in dreams, however, so it was with confusion that I returned to my old secondary school while I slept.
In the logic of the dream, I was a pupil at school in real time – I was my current age, and I witnessed the sort of building refurbishments that were so cruelly mis-treated by my peers during my teenage years.
On the way to a Science lesson, I loudly shouted down the corridor that I had ‘no fucking timetable’, which brought chuckles from Mr. Farrell, and I enjoyed the anarchy that my 23 years of age seemingly afforded as I went unpunished. I wondered what other japery capery I could get up to, before being ushered into a Science lab along with other pupils, all my age.
Prospective new students from junior schools followed us in, viewing the establishment to see if it was right for their sons and daughters. No doubt they would’ve been impressed by Mr. Farrell’s needless xenophobia when he said that the lesson wouldn’t start until his ‘bloody useless Lithuanian assistant’ arrived.
Due to the throng of families blocking the door, there was a notable scuffle as another visitor tried to squeeze his way into the room. I then glance over to be greeted with a winning smile from formerly the greatest football player in the world, and the greatest proponent of the pre-match seizure, Ronaldo.
Refusing to kow-tow to educational etiquette, I slide out of the room in pursuit of the buck-toothed wonder, to audible gasps of jealousy from my peers. In the corridor I bother him for an autograph and ask him if he can make it out to ‘Luke’. He pronounced it ‘Lyuuke’. What a maverick! What a moment!
To my disappointment, his handwriting, by some quirk of fate, is precisely the same as mine. Immediately I worry that this will make the autograph look false. Surely his actual signature will be irrefutable proof that I’ve met the man? Not so. Due to, I can only assume, a mixture of jingoism and extreme arrogance, he signs his name as ‘Brazil’, as if he is some kind of national envoy sent on an ambassadorial mission to Sidcup.
I question the signature, and remind him that his name is not Brazil. This upsets him, and I instantly feel remorse. I know he is a sensitive soul, so I drop it with our respecitve dignities and my bogus-looking signature intact. I leave him by saying “Good luck in getting into the Brazil squad for the World Cup. I think you can do it”. He looks at me with a steely blend of admiration and self-belief that confirms me as one of the most influential orators of this, or any other, century.
I return to the class room and somebody asks me if I got his autograph. I say yes. They do not ask to see it. I awake at this point, thinking that, as long as nobody else asks me to see it, then no-one will doubt it’s authenticity.
There have been suggestions that, having only started 12 games this season, Ryan Giggs was an unsuitable choice for PFA Player of the Year. Having snooped around the FA website, I have discovered the precise details of the voting for this award. Surprisingly, Giggs’ main competitors have featured less prominently this season than Giggs himself, meaning that he is a deserving winner after all, and everybody else is talking jibberyjoo. The votes in full –
1 – Ryan Giggs (1428 votes)
2 – Phil Brown’s beard (Everyone who plays for Hull, except for Jimmy Bullard, who voted for “banter wiv the lads”)
3 – Tony Adams’ dental brace sliding ominously into view on Match of the Day during hangdog post-match interviews after another crushing loss (12 votes)
4 – The promise of a fully-fit Michael Owen (3 votes)
5 – Tactically insightful tactical insight from Andy Townsend (1 vote. Null and void, however, as the voting form had clearly been tampered with using one of Townsend’s very own electro-tactic pencils)