Punch-drunk love is all in the game

APPROPRIATELY for a chap with a rich seam of anecdotes, it was the North of England Institute of Mining’s splendid lecture theatre that hosted an all-too brief talk from Harry Pearson late last year. Before sharing an overheard tale of Peter Beardsley being spotted shopping for cheese in a local supermarket, he dispensed some advice for those inclined to slap some much-needed sense into football.

It was the same line as the one fed to Floyd Mayweather prior to fighting Arturo Gatti a few years ago: “He don’t need no strategy to fight Gatti,” his trainer and uncle, Roger Mayweather, said. “Close your eyes and throw your hands and you’ll hit him in the fucking face.”

The thing is, football’s got a knack of staying on its fucking feet. Time after time its weeble-like figureheads live to fight another day; and seldom has this been more evident than during the last week.

At Cardiff City, Peter Ridsdale wobbled but he wouldn’t fall down. The fog persisted at Notts County, who have less than a month to clear their tax debts. Chester City became yours for a pound, while Crystal Palace’s administrators had a hand in the line-up that lost at Newcastle United, where season-long chants continue to implore a “fat cockney bastard” to get out of their club.

Portsmouth fans, in a change of tune from those caught voxpopping gormlessly on Match of the Day at the time of Gaydamak’s takeover that they didn’t care about the money “as long as it all gets spent!”, demanded to know where it’s all gone and where it’s going to come from. With a hateful global brandname for a neighbour, you’d have thought that’s the last thing Manchester City’s fans would want their club to become – but it is, whether or not Garry Cook sees it through.

After seven days of distress for fans of the sides involved and delight to some of those who aren’t, it’s worth remembering that if nothing else, football is fraternal and its appeal would diminish without the presence of genuine, traditional rivalries. There’d be much more mirth to be had at the Glazers’ shenanigans if the themes weren’t so familiar.

Leeds United’s recent form slump brings missed sitters like Thorp Arch and expensive shanks like the £1.5m Levi libel bill back into focus. Some of those who actually do put money into the club are showing renewed interest in what the man who doesn’t is doing with it all.

We’re fans. We want the best for our club. We have no say in its custodians. All we can do is not wet our knickers every time its name’s mentioned in the same breath as some flash bastard we’ve never heard of, and keep fighting those that we have.

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