With only eight games left to go in "the Barclays", as your boyfriend probably calls it, the season is over from a competitive point of view with Manchester City currently 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League. Thankfully, the surreal shambles that is English football is still an absolute hoot on and off the pitch. Here’s the best of this weekend’s utter madness.
The West Ham Revolution
So, here’s the lowdown on the current situation at West Ham. Fans are angry at owners David Gold and David Sullivan (as well as vice-chairman Karren Brady, the woman who grasses up incompetent morons on T__he Apprentice) for what they see as broken promises, poor recruitment, and a botched move from Upton Park to the London Stadium. So, they organised a protest march against their owners scheduled to run ahead of this Saturday’s game against Burnley. One of the main groups involved, the Real West Ham Fans Action Group, pulled out at the last minute after meetings with senior club officials, which many thought suggested that the board were using divide-and-rule tactics in an attempt to snuff out the bad PR associated with the demonstration.
This backfired horribly when senior members of the RWHFG started publicly playing up their links to the ICF (West Ham’s notorious 70s/80s hooligan group) as well as offering out other fans on Facebook, calling them “left-wing fucks” and bafflingly accusing them of being Antifa activists. Unsurprisingly, this left an extremely sour taste in the mouths of many West Ham fans, with the march largely disintegrating.
As the Hammers fell 3-0 behind to Burnley at home on Saturday afternoon, that suppressed acrimony burst forth into the stadium. Rather than fans being angry outside the ground, waving a few banners and venting their frustrations peacefully, all that rage manifested itself in the stands. There were fights among fans and livid chants against the board, Gold and Sullivan were told to leave for their own safety, and Mark Noble appeared to accidentally fist one of several pitch invaders. Then there was flag man, glorious flag man, who deserves a 2,000 word essay to himself but will instead have to settle for this:
Basically, if you were to cross Brexit with the Russian Revolution, this is what it would look like. The type of man who protested on Saturday, is a rebellious radical for the modern age. There he stands, fists raised at West Ham’s transfer policy, human conformity, and the political correctness of the Football Offences Act. He raises his banner against the "left-wing fucks" of this world, but also wants to overthrow the rich people who own his football club, and as such is a confused contradiction. Quite fitting for British identity today.
Somebody Think of the Children
There was a moment in all of our lives, perhaps when we were 9 or 10-years-old, when we realised that adults were not infallible pillars of morality but in fact extremely flawed and imperfect. Perhaps it was the first time we saw our parents pissed, or when we noticed our uncles were racist at Christmas. For many of us, however, the first time we realised adults were as fucked up and anarchic as children was when we first saw them at a football match.
When these kids had to be hauled onto the Burnley bench to help them escape raging grown men, their innocent view of adulthood must have fallen away in an instant. Nothing causes the scales to fall from your eyes faster than the sight of yer da’s flat cap flying off as he steams into his fellow supporters, leaving you to be temporarily adopted by Phil Bardsley before your ma has to pick you up from Stratford police station.
Marcus Rashford, On The Plane
Anyone who has followed the England team over the last decade knows exactly how Marcus Rashford’s talents are going to be squandered. Having scored twice against Liverpool this weekend, the Manchester United youngster is bound to be subjected to a rabid tabloid media campaign to take him to Russia 2018. “ON THE PLANE” the back pages will scream and Gareth Southgate will be browbeaten into submission. Then, once Rashford gets to the World Cup, his tournament will go something like this: two cameo appearances, no goals, out at the group stage, England’s shame.
Marcus Rashford – a guy who looks like his daily routine consists of two hours of training, eight hours of FIFA, and a nice hot Ribena before bed – is not ready for the vicious castigation he will receive from the English press in the aftermath of another failed World Cup campaign. Rashford is probably still coming to terms with the fact that fidget spinners aren’t "a thing" anymore, let alone highly critical daily coverage of his summer holidays in The Sun (“England FLOP Marcus Rashford Failed To Score In Russia – But Now DARES To Sunbathe In BENIDORM”). If there is anything we are good at in England, it is building up and tearing down our young athletes. Rashford is exactly the sort of brilliant just-out-of-his-teens phenomenon that we, as a nation, like to destroy.
‘I Lost My Rag’
Speaking of being hostile to young people, here’s what Jamie Carragher had to say after spitting on a teenage girl from his car this weekend: “Totally out of order & Ive [sic] apologised personally to all the family this evening. I was goaded 3/4 times along the motorway while being filmed & lost my rag. No excuse apologies [sic].”
The phrase “I lost my rag” is such a fantastically British understatement when it comes to gobbing on a 14-year-old Manchester United fan because her dad has shouted “2-1 Jamie, lad!” at you on the motorway. Next week: Gary Neville says “I blew my top, no excuses” after flinging his shit at one of the guys from ArsenalFanTV.
Special mention: It’s not the Premier League, obviously, but a hat tip to this weekend’s derby between Celtic and Rangers. It featured a sectarian march, five goals, a straight red card for an elbow to the face, Scott Brown giving it the big one to the Rangers fans, Scott Brown celebrating Celtic’s 3-2 win like a frazzled nineties pillhead and, yes, Scott Brown giving a terrifying post-match interview. As such, it was absolute peak Old Firm.