Wednesday, 8 May 2013



I was an infant when the Manchester United football team was almost destroyed in a plane crash at Munich airport.  My older brother told me all about it, about Duncan Edwards and Bobby Charlton and Matt Busby, the manager. Full of What-ifs and If-onlys,  It was a hushed and haunted national tragedy.

Funny though, when you look at it, even in the 'fifties, the ruinous power of celebrity was huge; some deaths, like some lives, more important than others. We never, for instance,  hear the name of the pilot in the Buddy Holly 'plane crash, it was Roger Peterson but, Hey, this was the day the music died. Not the pilot.

And of 23 fatalities  only seven were United team members, only seven.  Then, as it would be now, it was only the footballers who were nationally mourned,  the ordinary people, the co-pilot -who'd won a DFC in the war-   the cabin steward, the journalists,  these people didn't play football  and were never mythologised. Fuck 'em. They were nobodies; nobodies don't sell 'papers.

Four of the aircrew, nine of the football team, the team manager and a half a dozen nobody-others survived but forever after that event, Man U, crawling from the wreckage, in the person of Bobby Charlton, bless him, would be the Munich Deceased, and thus the world's favourite team;  dead men marking the opposition,  haunting their corner kicks, tripping them with ghostly boots.

Busby  and his assistant manager rebuilt  the team and it had some great, sporting  days in the 'sixties, before before;  Busby's greatest protege, George Best, autobiography fodder tor grave-robbing cocksuckers  like Michael Parkinson, was - tut-tut - an erratic genius but he was  the most dazzling footballer of my lifetime

 and the whole team was  a joy to watch, none of to-day's snarling, petulant, primma donna behaviour, hurtling from matches in mindered, gold-plated Bentleys,  still, then  in handshake  touch with its supporters, was football. Now, of course, Man U players are superbeings, albeit snivelling, shithead morons;  Michael Owen this morning tweeting repeatedly of his anguish about Sir Matt, his honour at playing for him;  he's like a twelve year old girl, that bloke. I don't know about Sir Becks, he'll probably get his people to contact Sir Matt's people, as long as Sir Matt doesn't throw any football boots his way.

Talking of grave-robbing cocksuckers I must step aside here, for a moment. Professor Germaine Greer, at the time of Best's death, confided to any 'paper that would pay her that in the 'sixties George 

Porn, it's a feminist thing.

was gagging for Germaine, above.But she wouldn't let him.  Germaine, by her own account, would fuck a mangy dog off the street but she wouldn't fuck Georgie Best. Or so she said. That'll be twelve hundred guineas, please.

There is a lesson, here, in the Manchester United story, a story of greatness not burnished by success but tarnished.  Once a local club, now owned by fuck knows whom, it's players from all over the world, winning for the owners  its only raison d'etre, the fans just, well, fanatics.

The Football Asociation was started as a working man's recreational activity with seasonal tournaments fostering healthy competition. Some of the clubs had Wednesday in their names because Wednesday afternoon's half-day off was when they played their fixtures.  And all of the then teams drew  members from their local  areas.  But then, as ever, came Ruin and his henchmen.  Clubs were making huge sums whilst paying their players a pittance and in the 'fifties  the maximum players' wage  was £20 per week. Action by their union, led by Jimmy Hill, broke that ceiling and swiftly Jimmy Greaves became the first £100 a week player.

 You can argue that it is the players' greed that now sees so many of them earning huge sums of money, more in a year than many earn in a lifetime but  when clubs are earning so much money why shouldn't they ? The labourer is worth his hire.  

And you can argue that season ticket prices are ludicrous, and they are - Mrs Ishmael often says to me, Why do we have three cars, there's only two of us, so I explain why we need the Smart Car,  the redhot Citroen F111, and the old four-litre Ford SUV and then I say, and anyway, I like'em, I like cars. And I don't do clothes, I don't do pubs  and I don't have a season ticket to a football match -  they're more than four figures I believe, some of them. But tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people buy season tickets.

 And then you can argue that, Well, if Man U wants to issue a dozen different "strips" every year so Dad LuvMyKids2BitsMe can keep on buying his little consumer brat each successive edition, well, what's wrong with that?  'Sjust the market. Right but 'sjust not football, is it?             

There was a time, not long ago, when Sport was on TeeVee on Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon. And then came Murdoch, ghastly old shit, buying up all the rights to everything. And so everybody else in TeeVee, including all those fine, underpaid Oxbridge brains at the BBC

 Well, we could all earn a good deal more in the private sector;  half  a million pounds a year?  It's peanuts.

 followed suit.  And now football is not an afterthought, it is, for many, not only the news but the national wallpaper; that it is rigged at a global level, that it is vulgar in the worst way, that it is uniformly unsporting and that its characters, players and managers,  are madly  bizarre grotesques; that professional fouling, kicking, spitting and biting, abuse of the ref, gangraping drugtaking and unparallelled stupidity are the behavioural norms of professional football,  well, that's cos it's the beautful game, innit? Don't for fucks sake talk about role models, that died with Stanley Matthews and Fred Perry.  No, these changes, this filth and  vileness these, not exclusively but  in large part, are due to Mr Bad Example himself. 

Ferguson is a win-at-any-cost gabshite; he is a graceless,  bad-tempered, snarling, conceited Glasgow bullyboy, trophies or not, the man's a cunt; Hitler built the autobahns and won the odd battle, Mussolinini made the trains run on time;  what price a few football matches?

I watched him at the funeral of the late Jimmy Reid, union activist and sell-out, in Glasgow, last year or the year before. His eulogy bore all the hallmarks of his slagging-off  of a referee - grunts and grimaces, menacing mutterings and SeeYouJimmys. But the strange thing was  that even though I didn't understand a word he said, I knew exactly what he meant. 
Now, there's a proper bully.

Fuck Alex Ferguson, here's wishing him  a short and unpleasant retirement.
And no injury time.


Arthur said...

Once more a well reasoned and balanced view.
In fact if you change a few names you have a precise cameo of GB Ltd

yardarm said...

Mr Arthur, as I was reading yr comment, Alastair Campbell came on, talking re Ferguson. Proves your point.

Arthur said...

Well, Mr Yardarm, they both have Scottish names.
However Campbell only invented soup whereas Ferguson invented a whole tractor to grow the stuff..

Anonymous said...

I'm on a management course and that football knob was described in some detail as an ideal manager. Also that other complete arsehole Alan Sugar. I've just arrived back from work and the Missis is enthroned in front of the goggle-box, engrossed in this fuckwit and a load of total wankers trying to impress him. Jesus Christ, he's just told someone - a grown man in physical appearance - to sit up straight and the reply was "Sorry Lord Sugar".
What's wrong with "Fuck off Alan, I'll sit how I please?" Are they all children, kow-towing to this walnut-faced utter wab?
Nothing I've seen on the telly has made me angier than this horrible glimpse of brainwashing crap. Lord Sugar my arse; if one of these contestants booted the self-important twat in the nuts instead of bending over, with no self-respect or dignity, I would be entertained. As it is, I despair. Plus I suspect that I am not management material.

call me ishmael said...

I never watch Sugar, mr richard, only so much one can tolerate. Never seen a minute of it.You could always try beating the wife, strictly for her own good.

Arthur said...

I will give the man Sugar one good point.
His affordable Amstrad got me into computing.....well I think it was a good point.
I don't think he deserved a Knighthood for it.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, it seems I've fallen short of the Stoical Virtues, and allowed myself to be enraged by facts. Crap on telly, which I knew, and other people watch it, which I knew.
The suggestion about beating the missis was, in it's outrageousness, a suitable admonishment. Idiot lanten indeed. Hmm.
- richard

call me ishmael said...

I loved my Amstrad 8256 wordprocessor, but I never loved Sugar.