I can’t actually remember when it was exactly, but I know it was a very long time ago that I decided that there were too many advantages in being a pessimist to give it up in a hurry and besides the surprises are so much nicer. Of course I’m not alone in enjoying this rather endearing foible, which has the extra advantage of getting me plenty of work, when Central Casting are looking for suitable candidates for the job of miserable down-trodden Brummie, in someone’s new production of Life. Mind you, there’s plenty of competition, as our forlorn and gormless tribe have an extra gene for negativity (well mine has anyway) and I’m sure Douglas Adams’s Marvin the paranoid android was based on some guy he’d met from the Aston area.
I think you’ll find that the German word Brummer (moaner) derives from the experiences the Hun had with Brummagem POW’s.
I do believe the last optimistic brummie was drummed out of the Villa regiment some time in the last century and who now lives in a hole in the ground somewhere in Saskatchewan, where his merry whistling keeps the grizzlies awake through the long dark nights of their hibernation.
So it was a bit of a surprise to see that there was more than a few Villans left in the Wycombe ground at the start of the second half in mid-week (for the information of troglodytes, they were 3-1 down at the time) – as I slunk away from the teletext, thinking ‘Oh deary Mr. O’Leary’. Had I been there, I would have definitely been one of those who were half way home by the time the eighth goal went in. Ah, but then again no, I seem to remember that the family ritual, in these cases, was for all parties to try and get someone else to initiate the departure, so should things turn out to be less than pear-shaped, someone else took the blame, so perhaps I would not have departed and thinking about it, the other family trait of always trying to get our money’s worth, probably means that, yeah, I definitely might have been a stopper and not a goer. Yeah, miserable down-trodden stopper – definitely.
This does not make me an optimist of course, just an indecisive tight bugger.
But that as maybe, my interpretation of the result was heroically negative and I quickly concluded that any team that can let in three and score eight, is so hopeless at keeping its shape and has such undisciplined defenders, that such scores tend to portend disaster rather than future glory, as the Villa team that scored eight against Exeter demonstrated by getting themselves relegated. So I was happy to find my pessimism was still intact and I readied myself for an equally high-scoring game against Chelsea, with Villa scoring none of them.
But bitter down-trodden pessimist that I am, I still have the heart of a poet, even if it is William McGonagall, and despite all my best efforts to muster the full weight of my cynicism, I came close to shaming myself, my family and my fellow Villans; when on watching the replay on Central television, I distinctly became aware of an unmanly wobble in my throat, as they played the second-half highlights to the tear-jerking strains of the theme from the Magnificent Seven.
It was just too beautiful and choking back those long repressed emotions, first awoken against Spurs at Wembley all those years ago, when men and boys wept like maiden aunts at the end of Waterloo Bridge, I just thought those are my Villa boys and may God preserve them.
Even better, a few days later, in a fit of uncharacteristic exuberance, I spied two Villa babbies dressed in matching yellow Villa shirts in Erdington and I just couldn’t help saying to them, ‘Eight-three, what a team, what a team’ and they glowed with pride, as they thrust out their little chests and made their Lions rampant.
It were bostin’ I tell ya’, it were bostin’!
But as I said, the best thing about being a pessimist, is that the surprises are so much better.
By Steve Wade