Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

No More Heroes Any More

In Football on February 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm

The Sporting Eye has made its view on the action in the January transfer window quite clear… Players it seems are now driven by big money moves rather than ones based on opportunity or prestige. The days of the club hero are dead and this transfer window activity underlined it with all the brutality of a nanny shaking a baby until its brain disconnects.


The first chief offender was of course Darren Bent, who casually turned his back on a team that had taken him on when he had been marginalised by another and had given him a platform to play himself into England contention. His reward to his fans and teammates was to manufacture a transfer to a club that is – or at least was – battling against relegation and was one place above the drop zone. Even if his quotes about them being in a false position (as if such a thing ever exists in league football) turn out to be prophetic, his move was as cynical and unambitious as they come.

Still, it was hard to take Steve Bruce’s sermonising about his lack of loyalty when he himself had proven what a mercenary he could be when he took the reigns at Wigan for just 8 games before defecting to Crystal Palace, before doing the same to them 18 games later when he moved to Birmingham. It’s also a certainty that it is Bruce’s interaction with Bent that caused him to have one eye on the door, an example of which was when he publicly lambasted the striker for allowing his struggling team-mate Kenwyn Jones to take a penalty in a game Sunderland won at a canter. It wasn’t the only time he was critical of his players in public and indeed it seems he learned nothing from his old boss over at Man Utd, given his eagerness to shift blame onto players when results weren’t going his way.

The Fernando Torres situation was a lot more obvious and it’s clear that despite the Liverpool fans wanting to make him another one of their striker heroes, he was always passing through that club. His love affair with Liverpool ended round about the time a flailing Rafa Benitez insisted on playing him injured and delaying surgery, something that contributed to a lack of form and meant he was a bystander as his nation won the world cup. While he may have kissed the badge, he would have taken a move anywhere that could have offered him an improved chance of winning trophies, which right now even extends as far as Birmingham City.

Torres was never the hero type… If you’re not convinced ask any Atletico Madrid fan who had to see the player, who was named the club captain at just 19 years of age, turn his back on them for a big money move to Liverpool after just six years at his “boyhood” club. Until then they had been on an upward trajectory, having achieved their highest finish since being promoted in 2001/2002. The club weren’t even properly compensated, the fee having not been disclosed but was in the region of £15 million. He will be well suited to Chelsea and they will get good mileage out of him for two or three years before he decides to return to Spain. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him pull on the white of Real in one final career affront to fans that want to believe.

The really shocking move had to be that of Andy Carroll, a player who had enjoyed a fairly average career up until Newcastle returned to the Premier League. The club had stuck by a player that had made little impact in the reserves, who had been deemed surplus to requirements by key members of the coaching staff and who had failed to deliver on his promise as a youth. However, he was a local lad, Gateshead born, and it was felt that his heart would always be in the club. When his contract was renewed it was hardly a great cause for celebration as the player then went on to be involved in a series of disciplinary issues, including breaking a team-mates jaw and then being arrested and bailed for assault twice, the first time for a nightclub incident and the most recent supposedly to do with his partner. Having to live with the club captain, the club stood by him and continued to play him and never once criticised him publicly for his questionable lifestyle. He did give his all on the pitch and his performances, only possible due to the loyalty shown by the club he’d been at all his life, earned him his first international cap.

Then on transfer deadline day, despite his insistence earlier in the season that he wanted to become a Newcastle legend in the same manner of Alan Shearer and Jackie Milburn, he was suddenly flying to Liverpool in a helicopter after submitting a transfer request. He can text all the local press he wants, but the fact of the matter is – as much as I or any Newcastle fan would like to believe to the contrary – he went because he wanted to. Mike Ashley knows St. James is a powederkeg and having £35 million he can’t spend is no comfort to the tenuous hold he has over the club after a string of lies and ineptitude. Selling Carroll on transfer deadline day could have easily lead to scenes akin to the Bastille.

Naturally he didn’t want the move to affect his already rocky personal life but the facts are he simply cannot expect to retain the love of the fans and play for another club. It doesn’t work like that unless you leave under some pretty exceptional circumstances and Carroll, like most footballers these days, had not put in enough time for those to come to pass. Maybe he’ll do that at Liverpool but it won’t mean as much as it would had he stayed.

But this is the face of the modern game. Players like Raul, Del Piero, Shearer, Scholes, Giggs, Le Tissier, Maldini, Strand, Harazi, Totti… These are a dying breed and they were rare to begin with in the first place. Now everyone follows the David Beckham model… You get the big moves, you do the big business, you think of profile, image rights and signing on fees before a legacy. That is the nature of the beast and it’s only going to get worse.
Newcastle fans might not even know it but they actually do have a hero at the club. They may never sing his name, they might not even care for him when he plays, yet for sixteen years – with huge periods of that being on the bench – he has remained faithful to the club and continues to do so. Steve Harper will never command a £35 million transfer fee but its players like him that the fans should be talking about rather than those who see you as a differently coloured stepping stone to a bigger bank balance.



The Premier League Escort Agency

In Football on February 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Gareth Wood on the whorish behaviour on Premier League transfer deadline day


I paced the hotel room with a swill of rum vaulting listlessly from the rim of the dirty glass.  Outside, burning cars lit up the Liverpool skyline like wild amber faces laughing maniacally at my vacuous expression; the drunk in the glass is a pig in a pen.


I was staying at the Eleanor Rigby; a hideous Beatles-themed hotel just outside Lime Street station; the concrete grew upwards and enveloped the sky like nasty mud-laden fingers.  It was truly an awful hotel; the plastic, tacky, limp stolid wretchedness of it all was like someone else’s bile being slowly forced in your mouth via a straw that has been used to tickle the treacly colon of a tramp, I heaved just to be there.

The bell-hops wore mop-tops and a memorabilia shop stocked the lot from monogrammed socks to cock-warmers with effigies of Ringo Starr staring either up or down, depending on arousal.  I had been to this place twice before.  The first unfortunate occasion was a result of temporary house arrest.  I had been accosted by the law for proclaiming that it is indeed possible to walk alone in Liverpool…as long as you are walking to work.  As you can imagine, I was chased through the city by scousers brandishing burning giros and forced to take refuge in a dilapidated cathedral like Frankenstein’s Monster.

The second visit to this most ugly of dens came about when I was attempting to climb the frame of a fine Japanese exchange student.  She was, in typical style, fascinated with The Beatles so, being the unfathomable genius I am, I thought ‘Ah’, take her to the Eleanor Rigby and watch her underwear melt away like the frost of a February midday.  She was enamoured with the constant Beatles references, the smutty glutinous daubing of collectors items and the questionable heritage of those that worked there however, whilst I was in the room polishing one off in anticipation she was being seduced by the night porter and his Lennon like affectation.  He wore those pathetic circular glasses that the wearer believes denotes a curious creative intelligence, when in fact if you believe an item of appendage will imbue you with creative intelligence it is apparent that you will never possess any.  He told her of his new stage play, ‘The 5th Beatle’, a one-man show in which he recounts -via each of their tracks- episodes of his life and the connection to their music thusly.  ‘What a brutal and lousy cunt’ I mused as I wiped the semen from the bathroom mirror and replaced it with disappointment.

Anyway, so despondent was I that I decided to abandon my seductive behaviour and get heavily mixed up with what liquor and drugs I had to hand.  Some stinking AK-47 Birmingham-built marijuana and a few slugs of Bushmill’s with beer chasers found me bounding around the suite with the duel feeling of arousal and cruelty surging through me like a funnelled fire.  It was then that I decided to order an escort, or, in the honest parlance, a whore.  I called Sultan Marigold, a friend in the area, who, as I well knew, was locked in to the abuse scene and could get me a piece of hole-cake as quick as I could piss on the bed sheets.  He threw me a number. Said it was the Premier League Escort Agency, told me to call and enjoy.  I dialled nervously and a gruff voice answered.  We discussed prices before the line-up and I proceeded with trepidation.  The voice recommended a young Spaniard, said she was around 22, blonde with freckles and legs like tanned water; I was in, gave my details and waited half-hard with fear for the knock.  When the door was tapped I opened, there she stood; proud, hot and utterly addictive.  Leaning in she proffered a hand and said ‘Hola, Me Llamo Torrez Fernando…’

Well.  I was back there again; last week, four years on, the world’s gruesome ballet had spun me into this foul corner once again; spared the void for the cell.  I though of Torrez and her lithe frame dancing around me, stepping over my thrusts and tackle, how I crossed her body with sweat before shooting fiercely into the top bag.  I became twitchy; it was apparent that I needed to see her and, after a stiffener from a nearby bottle I reached into my pocket and pulled out the crumpled and aged paper that held the number still upon it.

The gruff voice answered; ‘Premier League Escorts.’‘Hello…’ I began, ‘I’d like to get a girl to my room at the Eleanor Rigby.’‘What girl?’ the voice spat back, ‘Do you want to hear the list?’Not quite knowing why, I said ‘yes’ and the voice reeled off…‘I’ve got a very experienced Irish piece; Keaney we call her, 31 years old; been passed around like a good joke and knows her way around a prick.’‘What does she look like?’‘Short. Spiky hair, face like a squashed bee, pale skin but, like I said, can choke a chicken with a sideways glance…’‘No!’ I yelled, ‘no’ softer, ‘no thank you’.‘Well’ he continued, ‘There’s a pock-marked trollop called K Miller who-‘‘Look! Is there anyone good available?’ I snapped.‘Well, there’s a tall Geordie girl called Carroll.  Brunette, long hair, a little green to the game but early reports have been positive; knows how to finish a chance, if you know what I mean…doesn’t come cheap though…’‘Why so expensive?’ I enquired distractedly, already sure that I’d ask for Torrez regardless of what was thrown up. ‘It’s all down to potential’ the voice imparted, its tone like a blackboard being scratched by a vulture; almost tubercular with wheezing; a lunger for sure; not long to linger in this awful trade.  ‘It’s the potential that does it.  Sure, she’s not prick-savvy now but she can drink a coke with no hands, and that kind of trick shows promise.’‘I’ll pass’ I injected, ‘I was hoping for something more…European.’The voice paused and said, ‘What about Uruguayan?’South American I thought; could be worth hearing the description. ‘Do tell.’‘Louise Suarez; 24, dark as a Poe short story; fiery, ride you like a mountain bike and probably wander off with your dick still inside; raw power’‘A savage time eh?’‘You’ll be lucky to live’ he stated.‘No, I want to die by my own hand; not the clam of a hooker.’‘Look’ the voice grew in exasperation ‘What about something different?’‘Go on…’‘Bent Darren; she’s a he and he’s a winner! Likes to play games with bottles…as long as they’re fine champagnes-‘‘No! Oh no, not that, thanks. What about Torrez Fernando? She still on your books?’A knowing laugh dribbled through the receiver.  ‘She is still with us.  Been regular business but has had a couple of lean years; still good work though; starting to get a reputation back amongst the high rollers.  Not cheap though…’‘I’ll pay it.’ I said, ‘just send her over…’Phone hung up, silence again, waiting began.The door to my suite rattled as though an impish summer breeze has brushed the beads in a Latino doorway.  I pushed my member towards my left pocket and, straightening my shirt, opened the door.  For a moment I wasn’t sure it was her; the hair was darker now, brown, the figure was the same in stature but somehow different, as though it hadn’t slept for a long time.  She was dressed well; the same red strip, the same leather shoes.  ‘Come in’ I said, wandering if she remembered me, or if all the swaying cocks in her world had wiped away my memory like a worn rag.  I poured her a drink as she surveyed the room. There was a slightly perturbed sigh as she looked upon the crusty tissues from my warm-up and the empty bottles that lay on the plush carpet like bullet casings.  Passing her the drink I asked ‘Can we get started?’ She tossed the warm booze back as though she was recoiling from heading a ball and –leaning forward- began to unzip my fly; the dull throb felt as though it could be felt in the frightened taxis below and I knew that I was going to get the same service as before….

Just as she was about to bless my wand with a gaping mouth her mobile phone began to ring in a stunted symphony of electric dings.  She leant back and answered in pigeon English; ‘Yes…this is Torrez…Que? Sorry, what? For how much? In the same Hotel? Bien, muy bien, gracias senor.’‘What’s happening?’ I asked as she stood up and straightened her crimson garments in the reflection of a signed Paul McCartney poster.‘A grande offer, baby…la Russian amigo y Italian amigo es…penthouse.’‘What!?’ but I’d agreed the evening? I thought we had a deal? You can’t go now; there’s not enough time to get someone else, someone as good…’‘Por Favor…Sorry senor; Buenos noches.’ And with that she left; off to a bigger room with richer men and a night of violation on a more comfortable bed.

As I lay in the low-light of shattered lamps scoring the eyes from the McCartney picture with a smashed bottle neck I thought of her; pictured her compressed like an accordion; the fat Italian at one end, the Russian at the other, their eyes meeting in the throws, knowing they’d taken this Spaniard from a cheaper room.  I wandered how, when I’d excused her failings; the lessening of her effervescence since I first met her four years back, she could just walk out on me and stroll to someone in the same hotel.  Was the coin that great? Was the offer so much better than the prospect of a few hours in my company? I guess it must have been…
The night climbed in like a starving cat.  I swayed on the carpet; an upturned boat on the waves; my thoughts swam in smoke and sea as I reeled the phone in by its coiled line.  The ringing died in a soft distance and that gruff voice reappeared;

‘Premier League Escort Agency’

‘Is Bent Darren still available?’

Lights Out