I have had a few discussions this week which very much reminded me of a typical but glorious piece of cynicism from the Simpsons. You might remember it. Lisa and Bart are arguing about who loves Homer the most but just to make it one of those brilliant tributes to family dysfunction, they both vehemently proclaim that the other loves him more than they themselves do. The implication being that their own affections are highly qualified. So it was with the Villa lot this week, as several fans got a bit competitive about who was the most apathetic about the new season.
Its all cod’s wallop of course and it is almost impossible to refrain from a cry of fiddle-de-dee because it is all such stuff and nonsense; a fact easily established as long as you have a vitriolic or boastful blue-nose at hand, to jolt the monster into life with a few thousand volts of blue-hued piss-taking. Its then you find that its more a case of torpor than your actual full-blown apathy. It is frankly amazing to find how after even five minutes of enduring the self-deluded and maddening smirk of a Blues fan, you find that you do care after all and probably more than you would prefer. Being a Villa fan is the same as that thing they bodged into your arm before your TB jab at school – if the little pricks inflame you, you’ve probably got it bad.
Speaking personally I just think that true apathy is something that most of us can only aspire to or dream of, but it is not really a practical possibility; and the reality is that thirty years of reinforced behaviour cannot be extinguished so easily, even if you consciously make an effort to totally retrain yourself. The only fans likely to achieve anywhere near a really authentic state of apathy, are those who tried on their identity as Villa supporters, as a fashion item, shortly after Gazza’s tears made football fashionable and like a bit of experimental body-piercing it was only ever a peculiarity of their misspent youth and not a truly indelible legacy.
For the rest, I’m afraid apathy is just a state that can only be dreamt of – its just not a viable aspiration.
Something more attainable and quite the opposite of apathy, is anger. Anger at being taken for granted. Anger at seeing through the lies. Anger at the way the club has been incrementally run down. Anger at those who have allowed sentiment to override every financial or sporting consideration. Anger enough to vow never to make the substantial financial sacrifice which buying a season ticket entails. Anger enough to reciprocate the lack of respect shown by the club to the fans. Anger enough to care but not to let it cost you so much in financial and emotional commitment. Anger enough to face the truth about the club and to be as mercenary as every player and officer of that club. Anger enough to refuse to play the role of ‘punter’. Anger enough to feel no guilt. Anger enough to say, ‘No more!’. Anger enough for bitter laughter. Anger enough to face the truth and not despair.
Anger is definitely feasible but its not apathy – apathy can be left for those who never cared in the first place.
You can have a bit of a laugh too, if you allow yourself the luxury; and I have to say that the joke of calling O’Leary Tubs, of League Of Gentleman fame, is just absolutely brilliant. What with that nose of his and the weight he managed to put on over the holidays, the resemblance is remarkable; while his put-upon demeanour of recent times, tends to reinforce the impression. It makes a change from the Villa joke always being on me.
As for the Baros deal, it has taken so long and the guy is such an unknown quantity its hard to get very animated about it. But I definitely reacted with a touch of the paranoia implicit in Groucho Marx’s famous quip, about not wanting to belong to a club which would have him as a member, when the deal was done: especially as Baros came out with all that bollocks about Villa being a ‘big club like Liverpool’. Such unconvincing bollocks just got me thinking that he had personal and domestic reasons for wanting to stay in this country and football had very little to do with it. But many an arranged marriage turns out to be long, successful and happy.
What I really like about him though, is the way he comes across as an arrogant sulky little s**t. He doesn’t smile much and having watched him play, he has a bit of a nasty streak. There’s not a lot of evidence that he can play much (a bit head-down) but he can really finish when given enough chances. How well he’ll prosper on Villa’s meagre service to the front players, remains to be seen but I will be surprised if he gets far into double figures, unless Villa have a decent run in the Coca Cola. Of course should Villa buy themselves a decent defender, so that the midfield spends less time defending, then things could turn out more favourable.
My only prediction for tomorrow, is that if either set of fans starts a chant abusing Dwight Yorke, there probably won’t be many arguments.
Villa are desperate for a win and a loss would look like a disaster but I’ll be doing my best to look apathetic, whatever the score.
Am I bovered though? Does this face look bovered?
By Steve Wade