Tuesday, January 10, 2006

We Are Getting Too Old For This Sort of Tomfoolery

Mondale and I were chatting on the phone last night about the travails of our beloved Norwich City FC when he mentioned a football diversion he and some old pals used to pass the time with. It's a variation on fantasy football, and fittingly for Mondale it involves putting your ego front and centre of the action.

Essentially, what one does is imagine oneself as a football (meaning in this case "soccer") player and project a career trajectory for yourself through five teams, from wet-behind-the-ears apprentice to battered shinned veteran. For those of you not versed in the arcane world of English footie, the game would work equally well for baseball, or cricket, or Aussie Rules, or kabbaddi, or maybe even co-ed over thirties bocce.

After discussing the concept for a while, both Mondale and I decided that we would both ponder our selections and post our "careers" simultaneously. I did wait for him at the appointed noon hour but I imagine that he is having a busier day than he first anticipated (I told him to write it last night like I did, but in his defence he does have a life). Hope he catches up at some point.

Here goes for my five:
FIRST CLUB: Norwich City FC, 6 years (2 years youth, reserve, 4 years first team)

Discovered as an unremarkable but reliable stopper at the back with legs toughened by playing on a surface that alternated between marsh and ice floe, I begin my career with every schoolboy's dream; playing for my home side. After progressing through the youth ranks and reserve side, I make my first team debut aged 19 at Carrow Road against Ipswich, a game we win 3-0. After 4 nailbiting years and one League Cup semi final, I am part of the team that wins promotion to the Premiership.

SECOND CLUB: Sunderland (3 years)

The next season Sunderland pass us on the way into the Premiership as we slip back down a division. Eager to screw things up further, Norwich manager Nigel Worthington flogs off the starting back four to various Premiership sides in order to buy "this cracking Ghanaian lad from Trondheim" for a club record 5 million quid. I'm sold for 300,000 to Sunderland, where while never looking likely to claim a place in the England side, I do enjoy 3 seasons of Premiership graft.

THIRD CLUB: Glasgow Rangers (3 years)

Bought on a whim by Rangers new Russian oligarch owner in the off season because of my red hair, at first I take to the Scottish Premiership like a duck to water. Lots of clattering tackles, ginger haired types, and deep fried Mars Bars at half time: smashing! Thanks to the inflated wage packets handed out by the oil tsar I soon begin entertaining delusions of grandeur both on and off the pitch. An ill-timed and ugly challenge during the Scottish cup final tears my right ankle ligaments, a hole in an advertising hoarding, and a nun's wimple in the Celtic fans section. Despite recovering match fitness, my off season drinking gets me in trouble and I'm caught in a sting by a reporter from the Glasgow Herald saying rude things about the pope and yelling "Galsgow's miles shitter". I am released from my contract.

FOURTH CLUB: Beijing Guoan (18 months)

By now paranoid and suspicious, my agent only persuades me to sign with Bejing Guoan because their club colours are yellow and green like Norwich. Out of shape yet still with a vestige of the old skill, I seem to be making a come back, helming the club to third in the league. Unfortunately, both homesickness and a clash of styles with Guoan's new perepetetic Dutch coach Ruud Kokk cut my time in China short. My return to Heathrow, bloated and be-stubbled, is headlined "Sino-us Infection" by Britain's Sun tabloid.

FIFTH CLUB: Leyton Orient (5 years)

I never thought I'd be seeing out my career as player-manager at Brisbane Road, just down the way from my late paternal grandparents' patch. But then again, after the trails and tribulations of my rapid fall from grace I thought the only career open to be around a football ground would be driving the burger van. Luckily, a good turn on the BBC's "Question of Sport" quiz show was enough to catch the eye of the O's chairman who through a set of brandy goggles mistook me for Gordon Strachan. I have done nothing to disabuse him of that notion, and find the few words of Glaswegian slang I picked up at Rangers quite handy in keeping my job.

Well that was fun. Not one for memes myself, but I'd be interested in other people's trajectories; any sport (or even fantasy career I suppose) you like.


Listmaker said...

i'm not quite sure how to respond to this other than i'm completely awed by this.

the internet was down all day at work today thus no mondale for you.

weasel said...

Hey man, it's Mondale's game.

Mondale said...


weasel said...

What is an "Abck"? Is it something to do with your German heritage?

Mondale said...

I love the fact , just LOVE the fact that my career took off after our years together at Carrow Road.

weasel said...

How did I know your story would involve you becoming as famous as Beckham and universally, uncritically loved by all?

Mondale said...

Cos I'm worth it!