February 03, 2012

What a Carry On

CENTRAL PARK ponders on attitudes to others' misfortune


There I was, totally at a loss for something to write about, when like a gift from the gods it came. You know who went into administration, and this time it looked to be terminal.

It has been very interesting to see the various reactions from the regulars who I consort with at the match. I have also been more than a bit surprised at the vituperation with which, in some cases, the reaction was expressed.

There’s one mate of mine, known to most in the Town End as an eternal pessimist, who said to me at the Rochdale match words to the effect of  “they’ve done it again, it’s a disgrace this is, the third time you know. They say that this time they will be liquidated, but just watch, at the last minute someone will come forward and save them again. There’s no justice.” He went on for another five minutes but you get the picture.

That’s right, if I may adapt PG Wodehouse’s remarks about Scotsmen (Neale Cooper excluded of course), “it’s never difficult to distinguish between Kenneth with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.” Still, on this occasion I have to say he was spot on. To come so near and yet miss out on his heart’s desire might be too much for the lad, let’s just hope that the elation of being proved absolutely right will be enough consolation to make him still turn out for the Carlisle match."they’ve done it again, it’s a disgrace this is, the third time you know. They say that this time they will be liquidated, but just watch, at the last minute someone will come forward and save them again. There’s no justice."

Another very good friend of mine, an urbane and erudite chap, at his own estimate, left me speechless when he remarked “I hope the %&£$*s go into liquidation.” Said in private of course, in case somebody heard him and marked him down as a bad sport.

On the other hand I have been surprised by the number of people who have come out with something like, “well I know they have been our greatest rivals and we love to hate them, but I don’t really want them to go out of existence altogether.”

It’s all very well saying that on the radio or for the local paper, but how many people really think it? I think they might be suffering from the same fear I had as a kid. You know, the belief that it was wrong to rejoice in the downfall of others (be they friends or enemies), not only because it was an unpleasant thing to do, but more importantly, because if you did then fate would visit the same, or worse calamity on you. I think that that frame of mind still lingers on in some quarters. I can’t think of any other reason why people are being so sympathetic.

My own reaction was mixed to say the least. It started with, “well it just serves them right, what did they expect by living beyond their means in a stadium like that?” Then I thought “I’ll bet they have a bunch of lads standing behind the goal who are just like the lads I stand with in the Town End, the good, the bad and the downright miserable (you know who you are).”

They’ll want a moderately successful football team that doesn’t get relegated and has the occasional good cup run, not a lot to ask for. (Not a lot to ask for? Thirty years ago that was the impossible dream). Then I remembered their reaction when they were saved from liquidation all those years ago, when the mad hairgrip took over. You know, the chants of, “we’re so rich it’s unbelievable” and the messages of  “mind the gap” and “we won’t play you anymore” (seems they got that bit right eventually), and then my goodwill waned a bit. I also remembered them gloating about the number of times they had played at Wembley as compared to our failure to ever get there (Cardiff doesn’t count), when the thought occurred that in both cases the number of appearances at Wembley is the same as the number of times in administration - them 3 us nil.

What a dilemma. I decided that, on balance, if a higher authority would guarantee that they never ever again finished above us in the league pyramid then I really didn’t want them to go out of existence. With that in mind I switched on Radio Tees (a thing I do only in the very last resort) to listen to history being made as the last few minutes ticked away. Then, just as confirmation of the final demise was coming through, bloody Jewel and Warriss turned up waving an empty bag (now that’s appropriate), and saying they had the money and demanding entrance.

Despite my earlier feeling of not wanting them to go out of existence, I must say that I felt a bit robbed. There I was getting ready with the crocodile tears and my chance of playing the sympathetic old rival with his heart in the right place, only to have it snatched away. The reporters on Radio Tees were making much about the emotions of the people involved outside the Stadium of Blight, but what about me and the rest of the conflicted Poolies not knowing whether to laugh or cry? I’m probably giving more away than is wise here, but perhaps I’m not quite the nice sort of person I thought I was.

While we’re on the subject of the comedic duo – would you buy a bag of sea coal from that man?

So there they were, saved for a fortnight with everybody wishing them well, in public at least, when along came Mr Hodcroft to appear, please note that word appear (yes I know I’m starting to sound like the egregious Motson) to advocate their immediate demise. One television interview in about four years, and he has to use the occasion to cause upset. At least there was a disclaimer broadcast at the end of the programme, apparently he didn’t mean them – just everybody else.

Although I do have to say (in order to save my season ticket from being rescinded), that the“they’ve done it again, it’s a disgrace this is, the third time you know. They say that this time they will be liquidated, but just watch, at the last minute someone will come forward and save them again. There’s no justice.” interview looked to have been badly edited to put him in a poor light. Not surprising really, when you realise that the programme was the television version of Radio Tees.

So, saved for another fortnight, but with no reasonable prospect of salvation thereafter.

But wait, what’s this? Is it? It can’t be. It isn’t. It is. Riding over the hill to stage an improbable rescue, its Spencer Trethewy on a tandem with some bloke called Paul Wildes, who is going to boldly take the stadium where no man has taken it before - into profit. Well that should be worth watching during the close season if England produce their usual level of success at the European Championships and leave us with a few empty weeks to fill. It will certainly be more interesting than the Olympics.