Sunday, 18 August 2013

Look at Wayne Rooney! Oh no, do I have to?

My good friend The Body takes much pleasure in trying to wind me up about the Irish names of English celebrities.

“Take a look at your so-called English Rock‘n’Roll heroes. What about Lennon and McCartney. Do they sound English? Or the Gallagher brothers?”

Then I annoy him by pointing out that all of the above chose to define themselves as English rather than Irish, and doesn’t that somewhat diminish his argument?

Being a true friend, he naturally completely ignores what I’m saying and moves onto the world of sport.

“Look at Rooney. Now, does that sound like an English name to you?”
To which I reply,
“Look at Rooney? Oh no, do I have to?”

Thing is, when I do look at Wayne Rooney’s mashed-up face, it feels as if I’m looking into English history. My mind goes back to the field of Agincourt, where the English army faced the French. 

Zooming in to see the faces of those English soldiers, squashed in behind a row of huge pointed wooden stakes, my mind’s eye focuses on a short stocky man, English through and through, proud, stubborn, occasionally violent and a formidable enemy.
That soldier I see has the same face as Wayne Rooney: ready for battle; impatient to fight.

Even though he’s got an Irish name, Rooney personifies for me a certain type of Englishman, whose character is best illustrated by the time he stamped on Ricardo Carvalho’s nuts.

England were playing Portugal in the 2006 World Cup Quarter Final, when Rooney finally succumbed to the constant harassment he’d been getting from the opposition, by thumping his studded boot down into the groin of the Portuguese defender.

The incident is best remembered for the way that Cristiano Ronaldo then encouraged the referee to send off Rooney, his Manchester United team mate at the time. When Rooney was finally shown the red card, Ronaldo fired an infamous wink towards his team’s bench, implying ‘Mission Accomplished’. However to me the encounter symbolised something primal; something quintessentially English.

It felt like Rooney was saying
“There you go mate, that’s for all your funny foreign ways, your tanned skin and your head full of flowing dark hair. That’s for all your fancy frilly football skills, all your tricky step-overs and nutmegs. Here’s an English boot in your bollocks, and how do you like them onions?”

Far from impressed at the time, I raged and roared at Rooney via my telebox. He’d done exactly what Portugal wanted him to do. He’d got himself sent off, leaving England with only ten men to fight the foreign foe.

Wayne Rooney is an unreconstructed medieval English warrior. Yes, he has some moments of sublime skill, such as his soaring butterfly goal, and he runs around after the ball like a terrier after a bitch on heat.

There’s no doubt that he’s a great footballer, but while some argue that he’s past his best, nobody can deny that he’s petulant, argumentative, fickle and arrogant.

He’s also the star of the summertime soap opera that is the transfer window. With no European Championships or World Cup to occupy the massive market for football news, the media catch a snag of a story, and clamp onto it as a barnacle hugs a hull.

Will he leave Manchester United or won’t he? More importantly, do we care? It would be most odd if many of you gave a monkeys cuss, but as a Chelsea fan I declare an interest, because apparently he wants to join my club.

After more than 40 years of being a True Blue, I’m pretty sanguine about the idea. While just about every Chelsea fan I’ve met protests that they don’t want ‘Shrek’ to join us, I know that if he were to put on the blue shirt and score a vital goal for us, all those begrudging voices would immediately become adoring.

I’m never shocked to hear that somebody feels no love for football. The modern game has become nothing more than a whorehouse, filled with owners and agents who behave like pimps and footballers who are nothing more than prostitutes, selling their bodies to the highest bidder.

The modern prima donna footballer falls over if his opponent blinks too forcefully and is paid in a week quite possibly more than you or I will earn in a decade.
There’s not much that appears attractive about the Premiership, but here I am once again, chomping at the bit, excited at the prospect of nine months of high drama, hype and inevitably, as a Chelsea fan, horror.

As a predatory mammal, I enjoy belonging to a tribe as much as the thrill of the hunt. My late father introduced me to Chelsea FC, and it is partly out of my love for and loyalty to him that I am and will always remain a Chelsea fan. Wherever I’ve lived around the world, I’ve found Chelsea fans who mirror my outlook on life, great characters all, loaded with as many eccentricities as both myself and our football club.

Nobody knows what will happen in the coming season, but of one thing I am sure. As my mate Whispering Blue pointed out, the Rooney soap opera will continue to run right into the second week of the season. Even though United have before sold their star players to their closest rivals (Tevez to City), there is no way on this good earth that they will sell Wayne Rooney to Chelsea before their brand new manager’s first home game, because it’s against Chelsea. It is unthinkable that Rooney might line up to face his old team for David Moyes’s managerial home debut wearing a Chelsea shirt, and potentially score a winning goal against Manchester United.

If a deal is to be done, it will be signed and sealed the day after that game. Then, as a proud Chelsea fan and an Englishman, I’ll welcome the fact that we have another Englishman in our team, even if he does have an Irish name!

No comments: