ROYAL BLUES 2,
YANQUI IMPERIALISTA LEVERAGED HEDGE-FUND RUNNING DOGS 0
Mickey Blue Eyes
After last week's latest sorry, yet-again football financial saga it was a pleasure to get back to the ritual insanity of a derby game and leave behind all the ale-house lawyers/accountants and their weird "analyses" of the financial problems at analfield.
But surely there can be little doubt liverpool football club somehow became a very peculiar institution indeed, almost Milliganesque surreal. By comparison, we are paragons of respectability. It seems virtually everyone linked to the pinkies lost common sense some time prior to their financial tailspin. They became the three Shinto monkeys of Oakfield Road long before a necessary injection of reality. And any analfielder who thinks the debt "has been wiped out" is living in cloud cuckoo land; the money still has to be paid back to those who "wiped it out." And guess who will have to pay it? Furthermore, they have swapped a Dixie soap opera for a Yankee carpetbagger in freedom's land and bravery's home - if you believe American propaganda. So if our illegitimate offspring resort to burning the US flag again it's going to look a bit tiresome, not to say comical. You might even get flag-burning fatigue. Oh how we larfed.
All that standard tribalist nonsense aside, though, it was a footy tragedy and a real blow to our city. But liverpool are not the first - and they won't be the last, as many of us have been saying for almost two decades. Concerned fans everywhere have been banging on about it to little affect. And Us Evertonians and others can't afford to be smug, not with our own debt and little prospect of a new stadium to help reduce it. So who are we to lecture anybody? After all, we have a Las Vegas connected director, Robert Earl, which goes to show what compromises are made merely to stay in existence. We too have some fans just as poisonous and stupid as the fatuous flag-burners and incoherent riffraff who read multi-syllable words with a sense of innovation. However, something, somewhere, somehow has to give. We must hope if and when the crunch comes it doesn't do to Us what it did to them.
It would be nice if the whole scam could be replaced legally and carefully with a community-owned system similar to the German socialistic model. But don't hold your breath. Football is ruled by the same corrupt rip-off that ruins millions of lives in the real world. Of course the financial institutions (that's right, the same spivs who caused the problems in the first place) to the last will resist change to their rigged, suited-up barrow-boy system. After all, if such a change could be effected in the fantasy world of football what is to prevent it carrying over into key areas of society and the economy? Once the precedent is set who knows where les sans-culottes could take it? You might get tumbrels rolling through Canary Wharf and Wall Street as well as Oakfield Road. This notion doesn't displease your correspondent but you can guarantee it loosens a few bowels in the Establishment.
So we went into Sunday's game without Fellaini, Rodwell and Pienaar. Ominously, the heart of our best line-up was gone, but Jags showed up at the last moment to ease the pain. I figured glumly we would lose by two, though I had vague hopes Coleman might catch out a few old or useless defensive legs if he timed his forward runs. Countering that, I didn't want to think what would happen one-on-one between Sylvain Distin and Torres. Pre-match, I mentioned my scorecast to Paul, Gary and Steve and was told to "shove it up yer hoop." At the extremes, Evertonians were either wildly optimistic or desperate. Derbies do that to you.
Before the kick off rows of paparazzi faced the directors box, mirror lenses trained at exactly the same angle you see a few seconds after a shuttle launch. Out on the pitch standard, foul vituperation - some of it quite novel - cascaded onto the heads of the enemy from all sides of Goodison. I don't know how the players felt, but yours truly was jittery to say the least. You could have lit a cigarette on the air by the time the match got under way.
To my surprise, the pinkies were every bit as bad as advertised - truly awful. But in large part that was due to how we set about them from the off. Even the Yak was up for it, that odd combination of delicate close control with layoffs and a shoulder charge that would prostrate a bison; pinkies bounced off him at regular intervals. As the game went on you felt it was made for him to score a goal. You longed to see his Super Eagles hands-flutter. For the first quarter hour liverpool could hardly get out of their half and lost almost all the 50-50 challenges, which, needless to say, always triggers the crowd too. Actually, it was quite similar to the way we have played in virtually every other game......domination total, chances rare, though both Jags and the Yak had shots in the first ten minutes.
Then the Southport Bar Brawler, as expected, went right through the ball, flattened Mikky.......and didn't even get finger-wagged by referee Howard Webb, though minutes later he booked Tim Cahill for next-to-fuck-all. Then Torres got in a close header from a Joe (otherwise anonymous) Cole cross, which was enough for me to think they were going to get one from a breakaway. Meanwhile, both sides thudded each other to the ground whenever the chance presented itself. Needless to say, the enemy was dirty and we were merely, er, enthusiastic. And so the match went on. I began to feel optimistic. The pinkies were hardly getting a kick except at our players.
Just after the half hour mark we finally got a deserved goal when Coleman got his head down and ran at their left side defenders in typical style, made a monkey of them, got to the bye line and pulled it across to the right edge of the goal area. Whence came Tim like a quick-silver wraith to bladder it home before their baldy, nasty 'keeper could move. They must be as sick of him as we used to be of Rush, but that was a hundred years ago. While the Wizard of Oz was dancing around the corner flag and punching it all over the place Evertonians were doing much the same on all sides. The noise and scenes at these games is really quite spectacular. Funny too was the sight of Tim winding up an obviously over-the-hill Jamie Carragher at every corner. Even funnier was young Dan who sits next to me; he hates the pinkies with an absolute purple vengeance and was out of his seat, neck veins bulging, yelling, "Fuck off, Carragher, yer fuckn crack baby." And here's me thinking I had heard it all.
At half time Leon Osman was subbed by Bily; he was just plain exhausted from maximum effort and a sound kicking. This was a real test for the classy Russian and his determinism. If he didn't put in the same shift as everyone else he wasn't going to be forgiven. Fortunately he did, even managed a few tackles and interceptions while occasionally trying to dribble through three or four of the enemy - nearly managed it too. My big concern was whether we could keep up the energy levels because it had been total commitment from everybody in the first half. And of course one goal is never enough.
Four minutes after half time we got a second when Bainsey fizzed in an exquisite parabola from a left side corner, their Greek gunk headed it out wildly to the centre of the D, Mikky brought it down and smashed it straight down the middle before Nasty Baldy knew what was happening. 2-0 and surely that was enough? But, derbies being what they are, I heard myself say, "Now don't let one in in the next couple of minutes," which demonstrates how little we Evertonians trust in fate. As if to confirm the feeling the pinkies then went on to their best quarter hour of the match, had a couple of shots, but still never looked remotely likely.
After that, the game broke open when substitutions were made with twenty to fifteen minutes left. Mikky went off and was replaced by Jermaine Beckford, who was promptly and ludicrously booked. However, the Yak-Beckford combination now had the enemy more stretched. It was a Moyes master stroke liverpool were unable to counter. Three times the combo threatened to do the enemy with quick breakaways - one shot from Beckford would have been goal of the season had it not narrowly gone over. 3-0 would have been no more than we deserved.
There were a couple of scares in the closing minutes but they were defended brilliantly by Jags and Distin. One last gasp saving tackle by Jags, left side close in, edge of goal area, was absolutely breath taking. Anything less would have meant a goal or a penalty. But Distin and Jags were brilliant all afternoon; as for my Distin-Torres neurosis - well, there were five one-on-ones between them and Distin won them all. And that's how the game finished, with our bang and their whimper. It was three in a row without conceding. It was a thoroughly deserved win for our players, David Moyes, the club and our fans - excluding the knee jerks and whingers that appeared from under rocks in the opening weeks. We couldn't have asked for more from everybody on and off the pitch. It was too one-in-the-eye for the crackpot Moyes haters, who of course will now disappear down the nearest manhole until we lose another one.
As for liverpool, their precipitate decline has been well nigh incredible. I find it difficult to believe it can continue at the present rate, but that's their problem. For fans of A Certain Age it brings back satisfying memories of a long-ago low analfield moan of, "Mind your winger, Molyneux." I can tell you they are still haunted by that and the shadow of one Louis Bimpson esq., a lad who made Emile Heskey look like Tostao. Make the most of it while you can, Royal Blues. Gawd knows, they have it coming.
Post match, we retired to the usual venue, where Paul, Steve and Gary reminded me to shove my pre-game forecast up my hoop; which I did willingly and with great joy. Then we had the pleasure of the company of the great Joe Royle and his wonderful repertoire of footy stories. For those who haven't met him, Joe is a worthy successor to much-missed and much-loved Brian Labone, and every bit as generous with his time and willingness to share it with the fans. Everybody who queued for autographs and photos will bear witness to his kindness, patience and articulation. To think I saw his debut as a raw sixteen years old. Time hasn't dimmed his love for the game, and in these days of extreme cynicism that is says it all, really.
So the day ended. Onward and upward.