Thursday, May 6, 2010

Confession of a tragic New Zealander

Even more baffling is why some tragic New Zealanders
are passionate followers of English teams despite
having no parochial connections to them, but that’s
another story.—Karl du Fresne blog

In early adolescence, probably when I was about 13 or 14,
and at my sexual and intellectual peak, I began taking a
keen interest in the English football league, and would
check the results weekly, as fascinated by the names of
the clubs, I fancy, as I was by racehorses’ names (about
which I have written elsewhere). Those were the days
when the results—all of them, all four divisions, as there
were then—were not just published in the papers but
read out on radio. Burnley 1, Huddersfield 2; Nottingham
Forest 0, Sheffield Wednesday 0—that sort of thing, on
and on for a good few minutes, chanted sonorously, like
a litany, by a newsreader just after the news at (if I
remember rightly) 8 or 9 o’clock on Sunday morning.
For reasons unfathomable to this day but possibly simply
because I liked the look of the word, I adopted Chelsea as
my favourite team and, alas, they have stayed that way in
my affections ever since, through decades of vicissitude
and disappointment, leavened only by the occasional
triumph, eg, the FA Cup in 1970. Unlike my old colleague
Steve Braunias I’m not a particularly enthusiastic fan of
soccer, much preferring to watch rugby—though I once
lived quite close to the Stamford Bridge ground in London
I never went to see a game there—but to this day my eye
still strays to the English football results to see how
Chelsea are doing. In recent years, of course, they have
become a super-club, always near the top of the league
and winning trophies regularly. The fact that they have
done so by spending squillions of pounds on buying star
footballers from other countries, to the extent that the
current team can scarcely contain a single player born in
London, let alone Chelsea, has not weakened my
kneejerk reaction to the word Chelsea, nor will it cloud
my satisfaction when, this coming weekend, Chelsea
wallop Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge to win the
premier league for 2009-10. Such is the enduring power
of words, certain of which can cast a lifelong spell on us.


Anonymous said...

About a decade ago I noted a distinct waning of interest and coverage of the UK league but in recent times it's come on strong again.

I reckon its the ready availability of good 30-second clips for the TV sports news. Then the papers feel they have to follow and hence the overcoverage we experience today.

Spending caps for Brit. soccer, sorry football I say, especially for the managers. Better still no foreign managers or owners.

Arsène Wenger, what kind of name is that? Or is it some bloke who changed his name so its almost identical to the name of the team he manages. And Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich, how can you Denis support a team owned by a man whose names sounds like an extra in a James Bond movie?

Was it John Cleese who made a fantastic skit out of reading the results in the manner you suggest but went loopy at the end?

Anyway, far too much kiwi coverage he said, realising the length of the post means I'm guilt of giving it too much space myself. Oh bugger!

Denis Welch said...

Indeed, there is no sound reason for supporting Chelsea at all; one might as well root for Vladivostok Villa. That skit was by Michael Bentine, one of the original Goons; the gag was that the more results the newsreader read out, the more he realized he was on course to win the pools. By the end, with every pick correct, he was shrieking.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Denis, and I discover available at complete with a clip of a crackly 45 rpm record playing the skit. Two thirds through alas the results start to go against the reader and by the end the BEEB voice has returned to normal. Priceless.

Joe Hendren said...

Essentially sports teams are being reduced to brands.

I was never greatly interested in rugby but I seemed to lose any remaining interest when it turned professional. Its not even a team anyone - its a franchise.

I will be greatly disappointed if neo-liberal capitalism manages to stuff up the one sport I like - cricket. I don't mind the players getting paid, but I do mind when interests of capital intefere with the interests of cricket.

World Series Cricket stuffed it up for a year 30 years ago, and the ICL nearly did it again - TV rights were the issue on both occasions - not cricket.