Warning: contains dead bodies, mild peril, partial nudity, swearing, irony and occasional violence.
“West Ham are in dire straits,” said Billy the Dog, as I approached the allotment and offered him a pint of sweet sherry. “That Mark Knoffler has lost it, the new glacier tax is hitting them hard, and their bid to host the synchronized tap dancing in the Olympics has been turned down. The club is mostly being funded by taking in dirty linen and charging for cleaning it up.”
“Money laundering eh?” I said, and Billy just looked.
“Arsenal on the other hand has got most of the first team injured which is when they normally go on a 24 match unbeaten run. But Arsenal won’t have it all their own way, because I expect the Three Stops from Barking team to pull a few jigsaws out of the bookcase.”
“What does that mean?” I asked, but he gave me a look of exasperation. I also asked if he liked Seasick Steve.
“Contemporary blues singer, makes his own musical instruments and sounds like Captain Beefheart?”
I said that was right.
“Never heard of him,” he said, and we returned to the matter in hand.
“West Ham’s plan is to play a team of Norse gods,” he told me. “The Icelandic owners have been reading up on their sagas and have realised that there is no regulation under FIFA rules that players actually have to be alive or human. All they have to be are registered. This could cause Arsenal a problem.”
I asked how.
“Well several of the players they intend using are vampires, three sold their souls to the Horned Beast, and two others are now just skeletons.”
“That’s pretty much the team that they put out in the league match against us,” I said, “and they got a 2-2 draw. Still, fairly pesky creatures, these Norse gods.”
“Fortunately I have the film maker Jean Luc Godard as referee,” said Billy, “so that should even it up a bit. Do you want to know the team?”
I said that might be a good idea.
Fabianski (Mannone as reserve)
Sagna, Senderos, Silvestre, Traore
Ramsey, Song, Eastmond (or possibly Diaby)
Mérida (possibly Wilshere), Vela, Rosicky
Reserves from somewhere in between Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere, Fran Mérida, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Sanchez Watt and Nacer Barazite. Unless the Lord changes his policy and puts the big name players on the bench.
West Iceland will play
Olaf Stewart, Baldur Dicks, Loki Bonds, Valkyries Martin
Ragnorok Peters, Noggin Moore, Wodin Brooking, Freya Hurst
Nogbad Di Canio, Thor Devonshire
“OK so that explains the dead bodies,” I said. “What about the mild peril?”
“West Ham will score first. One-nil to the bankrupt club.”
“Vic Akers’ knees.”
“Swearing is obvious. What about irony?”
“The singing of ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles.’ A truly post-modernist statement of irony which refers of course to the geysers of Iceland, most particularly Strokkur, Geysir and Haukadalur.”
“I thought Haukadlur was West Ham’s left back,” I said. “But cccasional violence?”
“Oh come on this is West Ham!” Billy told me. “Anyway, today’s score is Iceland 1 Arsenal 6. Wilshire three, Bendtner (sitting in the stand) scores two with his head, and Wenger taps the ball back to Traore for a throw in near the technical area, but overhits the kick which hits two icebergs and then flies straight into the net for the final goal.”
“So what ever happened to that business when the supporters ran on the pitch and danced around in front of Millwall supporters?”
“The FA have convened a hearing seven times but all the jurors keep either being nobbled or are too frightened to turn up. They’ve moved onto investigating the allegation that Arsenal supporters make too much noise and put the opposition off. We expect to be found guilty. After all any club whose supporters go into the ground for a match against a club from Sicily wearing T-Shirts saying “West Ham v the Mafia” is not actually of this planet. Best not to mention that in print.”
“But I just have!”
“Have you ever thought of a life on Tierra del Fuego?”
I admitted that a swift exit might be in order. But before leaving I asked Billy for his predictions for next year. He jotted down some notes which I faithfully reproduce below:
January: we sign two children of Brazil. Match of the Day says “you won’t win nuffink with kids.” Manchester United appeal to all the banks on the planet for “one last loan” which will help them out of trouble.
February: Portsmouth admit they have lost their battle with reality and go into liquidation. Carlos Vela starts scoring in league matches. Torquay United start winning league matches. Sounding rather like the teeny boppers who owned dot coms at the start of the last decade the chief exec of Liverpool FC complains that “the banks don’t understand football.”
March: Crystal Palace admit that they have lost their battle with reality and go into liquidation.
April: Notts County admit that they have lost their battle with reality and go into liquidation.
May: Arsenal win the league and Champs League beating Barca 9-6 in the final, in the greatest match ever seen. Carlos Vela is top scorer for the season. Torquay United promoted to League One. Fifteen OAPs arrested celebrating on the beach in the nude. Accrington Stanley goes into liquidation, citing the fact that “football just doesn’t seem the same any more”. Newport County promoted to the Conference. In an amazing turn around at the end of the season Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa all miss out on the Champs League as Fulham grab the final place.
June: Daily Mail says Arsene Wenger to quit Arsenal over row about the pre-season tour. Liverpool served with a winding up order by RBS.
July: Arsenal lose 2-1 to Barnet, prompting Daily Mail to state that players have grown fat on their triumphs and will struggle in the league this year. The Sun predicts that Arsenal will sign Peter Crouch. England disqualified from the World Cup Finals for fielding a “too ugly” team.
August: Arsenal beat Everton 6-1 in the opening match of the season. Anti-Gravity devices go on sale, middle east economy collapses, Manchester City put up for sale.
September: Several prominent footballing characters lose financial legal cases. The FA, worried about developments, announce an investigation into the transfer of young Brazilians to Arsenal. The Daily Mail starts a campaign to “give football back to the English”.
October: With Tottenham lurking near the foot of the table Arry resigns over lack of transfer fees. He immediately joins Southern League Portsmouth and says it is great to be back at a big club.
November: Tottenham announce they have no money and go into liquidation. Leyton Orient put in a bid. The first 259 comments on a popular anti-Wengerian blog consist of variations on the theme of “Hey I’m second”.
December: Untold Arsenal is investigated by the Office of Predictions, Eternal Verities and Prophecies. “No one can be this right this often,” says Sir Hardly Anyone, head of the Commission of Investigation.
Life? Don’t talk to me about life.
Tony Attwood, Tierra del Fuego, 2010.
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