Friday, 8 May 2015

Blue Heaven, New Hell

So that's good, then. Great Britain has voted for its own funeral. Perpetuate the wealth staying in the hands of the already too wealthy, shuffling to and from our zero hours 'jobs' while the loaded push great wads of cash back and forth across an expensive oak table, grinning like the entitled pricks they are. 

But this is a football blog, and British football gives you a pretty good analogy for what our country has become. There is a self-appointed, self-aggrandising elite humming a happy tune to itself and relentlessly lording it over the rest of us. Meanwhile, the rest of us little folk shuffle around like doddering dogs hoping that some of the crumbs might fall from the table, or that we too might strike it lucky and wake up in the arms of a billionaire who made his money in a quasi-illegitimate way. 

Chelsea's title-winning effort was in of itself a fine achievement. Mourinho is, whatever else you think of him, an excellent predator of titles. He reminds me of those Komodo dragons that use a slow-working poison to kill their prey and then just sit around while the victim slowly descends into inactivity. The first half of the season was surprisingly flamboyant, the second half decidedly not, but there's much to admire in their defensive organisation. It's like the old Royal Tournament where you could watch military men doing complicated things with great precision - impressive, but God you wouldn't want to watch it every day. 

Their victory has not been welcome, but then whose is? They are boring, divey, smug, neurotic but more than all of that, boundlessly wealthy. You might say, 'ah but they use their money wisely'. Fair point. Better than the ragtag mercenaries in the sky blue shirts who turn up one year and down tools the next. Better than the extraordinarily profligate United transfer policy which seems to be reaching Citeh levels of bottomlessness. 

Better too, than the negligent rearing of Newcastle United by a porky cockney with not the slightest interest in the club beyond its capacity to generate money for himself. 

But the point is, wealth is all in football. The acquisition of it, the sustaining of it. Were Abramovich or Mansour to just cash in their chips tomorrow, Chelsea and Citeh would be bumping along the bottom within three years. Unless some twat with an online sports clothing company were to chip in a few quid. No wait, that doesn't make a blind bit of difference. 

There's a difference at these places now, I reckon. Such is the overweaning desire to be wealthy and to be seen to be wealthy, football grounds are now inhabited by an upper class that's there for the circus of it, rather than for the love. I don't doubt they feel committed, but it's not in their bones. It's in their wallets. David Cameron doesn't know who he supports but he has to support someone. West Ham Villa. Arse. 

Supporting your cash-strapped local club and wishing it well, as I do the Boro at Brentford, is a pathetic act of collusion in Hope over Expectation. But it's also an act of community and faith and devotion, and while that has not been entirely undermined by the Premier League's inordinate riches, it has changed match-going into what can only be called flagrant exploitation. 

When Hull feel it's okay to massively overcharge visiting fans, you have to ask what are we here for? 

At the bottom of the table, of course, are the underlings. Plucky, resolute, honest and hard-working, these fine fellows tirelessly plug away, occasionally shafting one of the big boys with a surprise victory: Burnley v Citeh; Leicester v United. 

But these are weird aberrations, like when the Lib Dems win a by-election (I'm not holding my breath by the way). When it comes to the big decisions, the wider picture, we're still looking in through the glass windows, counting the chandeliers and wishing we could all own a palace one day. 

Cheerier folk than me point to Bournemouth's success, achieved through consistency of selection, faith in a manager, canny budgeting and no little flair. It's a feelgood story through and through - unless you support Norwich - and yet all they're doing is spending a few months in the big house and hoping they'll be allowed to stay. 

Chelsea's victory was deserved, yes, but it was boring because, when any one of those obscene bastions of wealth and privilege wins, the inevitability of it is what's strikes home hardest. And here's where it differs from the election, We have a chance to change things, a little bit any road, every five years. That's what we've done. Voted to make it worse. Deliberately. 

And as every fan of a football club that's won bugger-all for bloody ages can tell you, there's a very peculiar masochism in that. I think, sometimes, that we all need serious counselling.