Arise the mannish boy…
Arise the mannish boy…
I think it was in the film 42nd Street, that the famous line appears: You’re gonna walk on that stage a person but walk off it a star. Summat, like that. Well, anyway, it happened on Sunday when a certain Gabriel Agbonlahor, walked off the St Andrews pitch, as a fully-fledged star, Villa Immortal, match saviour and match-winner, after clearing miraculously off his own goal-line and then, heading the killer goal in the dying minutes. It was the sort of contribution, which gets a player written up in local lore and makes their name indelible in a club’s history.
Gabby, you’re the Man.
Gabby himself, might not be quite so bullish, as the last guy to emerge as the heroic slayer of the Blue Meanies, a certain Gary James Cahill, got sent off to Sheffield for his heroics and that particular goal was sponsored by the Chinese State Circus, or might very well have been. So it was no surprise, that the angel Gabriel reverted to an impersonation of a stolid lugubrious Brummie, when asked to comment on his feat, after the game. ‘Just another three points’, he insisted. Yeah, right!
He’s cool like Brummies are supposed to be cool..
You see, before we caught that dose of whingers-whine off the Southerners, Brummies were world renowned for their stolid lugubriousness. Tony Hancock built a whole persona on it and Ozzy Osborne continues the tradition. Young Gabby has got it down cold, and when he’s interviewed after a match, he always looks like a bloke who’s interrupted his tea to answer the door to a double-glazing salesman. The stolid lugubrious Brummie has always been my favourite sort of Brummie, whether denizens of the workshop, the bar, or, the football terrace. So, being a natural at that sort of thing, makes Gabby a perfect Brummie hero.
It was a brilliant result but relief was my overwhelming emotion afterwards. Relief at putting the old Blue hoodoo a little bit further into the past and relief at winning such a close game. But the biggest relief, was not having to face a storm-surge of I-told-you-so’s from the Villa moaners. To be honest, I dreaded that far more than a few jibes from my local Blue-noses. Getting slaughtered by a Blue-nose is just a rival doing his job, and you have to take your punishment like a man, but Villa moaners are just something else entirely. In fact give me a piss-taking Blue-nose any day but Villa moaners, they add nothing and just relish taking everything away.
Not as though the O’Neill knockers need worry much now, as it looks like he’ll have the England job by Christmas and Villa will have to restart their five-year plan all over again, at great expense and at the risk of the instability often associated with changes of coaching staff. I don’t know how much Randy Lerner is exposed to the present banking crisis in America (sub-prime and all that), because he’s not in the habit of letting me know, but a shortage of liquidity, might not be the best news Villa could hear. So it seems like a good idea to keep hold of our manager, if we have any sense at all. But nothing can be taken for granted, when it comes to football fans. Football has the habit of nurturing the sort of narcissism in its various fantasists, which is totally immune to all appeals of reality.
Having already donated one manager to that elephant’s graveyard, known as the England job, I think Randy should have sent a note to the FA, saying, ‘We have already given’. I find it really annoying that the first chance Villa have had to try a bit of continuity, gets scuppered by the failings of the FA to choose a man they are willing to stand by. There are certainly rumblings of a consensus in the press that MO’N is the right man for the job and we can only hope that the Ulsterman has more sense, than to invite the English press to traduce him. The only hope, is that the Israelis park a Merkava tank in front of their goals, or the ghost of Cloughie stirs, some night soon, and tells Martin not to be a prat. Hasn’t he heard of Faust, or something?
It is easy to see why the present England crisis, although I can’t actually remember when the last one ended, should trigger the usual debate about the number of foreign players, playing in the Premiership and whether there should be quotas for foreign talent, or not. But I was surprised to read that Sralex had come out in favour of such a system but then I remembered; that the red-faced old reprobate, is usually about three days ahead of everyone else in the thinking department and craftier than a barrel full of monkeys. Knowing full well, that it will never happen, he obviously felt free to trot out the view, which all sentimentalists would agree with, at absolutely no risk, of changing anything a jot. The man’s got more spin than Shane Warne.
But whatever way you spin it, it looks like an England crisis could become a Villa crisis and one way or the other, the five-year plan looks to be about to come off the rails. The cycle of destructive change, we assumed arose from the caprice of Doug Ellis, looks like visiting the club again. And somehow, it looks to be written in the stars that, continuity, even when its the club’s concerted aim, is not something we are blessed to achieve. Sometimes, when the ball goes under a goalkeeper’s foot or bounces off a defender’s knee, you can’t help but think, that the football fates have it already written and there’s not a lot you can do to alter that fact.
So Sunday’s satisfying win, might be just the finest part of O’Neill’s fated swansong.
But for those seduced by the irrational and unnerved by the fickle finger of the fates, have you ever noticed this:
Villa’s postcode is B6 while Blues are B9 – the inversion of the anti-Christ.
It goes further than that, even.
Villa’s goes on to 6HE (Herbert Ellis), while the Blues is 4NH (For No-hopers).
Further proof, if you need it, that the spirits of the dark side, are into texting, is: Liverpool L4 0TH (Old Trafford Haters) and Newcastle NE1 4ST (Anyone for Shearer’s Team).
But whatever, Sunday’s win worked as a sort of faith-healer, for those who thought they might ever doubt Martin – and the nation too I fear..