Friday, 21 January 2011

And then Cheick Tiote said...


(With a nod towards m'colleague, this is from an older blog and more innocent days, but I didn't have anything to say before this weekend's prediction, so I thought I'd use the trusty sword of cut and the noble shield of paste and, er, 're-imagine' a ramble from 2005. With some changes and a couple of footnotes)

***

Whenever footballers retire, they steadfastly assert that what they will miss most is “the banter in the changing room”.

This seems odd for many reasons. Chiefly, because there seems so much more to miss about being a professional footballer. Playing football, for instance. And being paid something like £80,000 a week to do so.

Then there’s the glamour, the profile, the excitement, the adulation, the access to very sexy and extremely accommodating young women. But no, it’s the banter they’ll all miss the most.

Also curious is what happens to these almost narcotic levels of quick-witted quippery after the players leave the 21st Century Algonquin Round Table that, apparently, is the modern pro’s changing room.

I’m not one to bemoan the lack of eloquence amongst footballers. For a start, it’s often exaggerated; and secondly, when was the last time The Spectator’s 5-a-Side team won anything?

Nevertheless, this universal conviction to fight for the right to repartee does seem odd coming from the ranks of a profession out of which Chris Kamara rises as a gifted communicator and where Mark Lawrenson can seem erudite simply by hooking his arm over the back of a sofa when he talks.

Perhaps there’s a sign above every changing room door: ‘No Banter Beyond This Point’. (In the case of Spurs, that would be just below the one that says, ‘Remember, Play Like Cunts’ that so obviously takes pride of place). So, when, for instance, Joey Barton runs out for Newcastle, chatting away to Kevin Nolan, the conversation takes a dramatic turn: “...precisely, Nollers, my good man. As Dorothy Parker so memorably put it, One more drink and I’ll be... getting stuck in early doors and then looking to grind out a result.”

When I retire, I think what I’ll miss most is the ability to control my bladder and any sense of feeling in the extremities of my limbs.

As Jason McAteer once said, “Fuck that”.

Notes:

In paragraph two it originally said 'Something like £20,000'. That is now, in some cases quite literally, a day's wages, not a week's.

That sign in the Spurs changing room: at least 'Remember' has been changed to 'Try not to'. Progress.

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