This article originally appeared on VICE Sports UK.
James Morrison scored two goals and missed a penalty against Chelsea this weekend in what might've been the most Premier League game ever. And yet if you close your eyes, you'll struggle to remember what the poor bloke looks like. He is, somehow, both a regular in the most over-saturated and aggressively marketed league in the world, yet still completely anonymous. Nobody has ever even had a conversation about James Morrison before, unless they're busy comparing that painfully earnest singer-songwriter (who did that thing with Nelly Furtado) to James Blunt, who sadly no one can forget.
He's a complete and utter blank canvas. When taking the time to consider this man's life away from football, at once you can imagine him in a variety of situations, unaware of which is closest to the truth. Does he wear Vans and listen to nothing but Britpop? Or has he got some Air Max and a compilation of mainstream house? You just don't know. He's actually the perfect candidate to become a spy, because you forget his face the second you look away from it. He's the friend on Facebook you forget you had until he either likes your status or has a birthday.
In truth, James Morrison should feel aggrieved, because the 'boring' brand that has become James Milner's should actually be his. It's often said of Milner that his demeanour and appearance is that of a labourer, but google Morrison now and try to not imagine him arriving to your house in five-year-old Voi jeans to rewire a socket, or fix a leak in the bathroom. His somewhat groomed stubble and his slim but oddly shapely frame suggests a man that cares about the way he comes across in the pub of an evening, but spends most of his lunchtimes at a McDonald's drive-through.
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Even stranger than this is the fact that West Brom don't just have one James Morrison, but three. The others, apparently preferring to be known as Chris Brunt and Craig Gardener, are virtually indistinguishable from one-another, both as people and footballers. Their main attribute, it seems, is the ability to kick a ball really, really, really hard, and vaguely in the right direction, coming up with a handful of Championship level screamers a season. They can pass well enough, stick in a mistimed boot, be fairly mobile and take a passable set piece, but other than that, it's a mystery. Graham Dorrans, the one that got away, left for Norwich recently, breaking up the band like Robbie leaving Take That.
West Brom, perhaps, have perfected cloning without alerting the wider scientific community. It's a VICE documentary in waiting, a serious version of Dostoevsky's popular The Double, or that weirdly unappreciated film Jake Gyllenhaal did called Enemy, which has pretty much the same script as any other unknown doppelgänger drama, but is a bit creepier nonetheless.
However, this remains a deeply philosophical issue: if James Morrison scores but nobody knows he actually exists, did he ever score at all? And it's not just us he has fooled, either. Judging by his Wikipedia entry, that one can only assume he updates meticulously himself, he played his entire international youth career for England, only to pass himself off as Scottish at senior level. We've all seen films. We know what secrets a man with more than one passport holds.
Game Of Thrones fans will know all too well about the mystery of the many-faced god, but little did we know it was actually James Morrison all along. How have referees never booked the wrong player before? Or, is it that they do so with such regularity without us noticing that the Morrison triumvirate accept them without fuss? Actually thinking about Morrison for the first time just raises more questions than it answers. We need everyone to do it, so we can all get to the bottom of this conspiracy together. This is probably the first article you've ever read dedicated solely to James Morrison, and that's part of the problem. We've got a real life X-Files villain in our midst and nobody is talking about it.
Against Chelsea, James Morrison — such a bland name should've given the game away — had an eventful match. He scored two goals, both pleasing for different reasons, after missing a penalty earlier on. Typically, the penalty was middle of the road too, literally just smashed as hard as possible down the middle. Had he converted that chance, West Brom may have gone on to win, especially after John Terry treated an attacker clean through with the same level of care he attributes to race relations. Regardless, our Player of the Weekend is James Morrison, for his services to espionage and anonymity.
We're on to you, 'James'.