Sucking heartily on life's half-time oranges

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Boy Band versus Old School

I recently wrote of Wycombe’s historical rivalries (read it at the Two Unfortunates’ blog!); as well as our regular grubby spats with Essex weasels Colchester United, we do have proper local adversaries this season in MK Dons. Having lorded it over the rest of our county for 117 years, Wycombe fans are right royally riled that we are not undisputed Kings of Buckinghamshire any longer. Harrumph! MK Dons, a new team from the Ballardian horror-show that is its specially-built 1960s town, are the unconvincing, manufactured boy band of League football – let’s call them Another Level. This leaves Wycombe, in comparison, (especially with our grizzled rockster Gareth Ainsworth at the helm), the journeying heavy rock band, forever on tour of small town pubs, reeking of sweat and debating our favourite Saxon album. I went along to see how the foes matched up.

It promised to be a lipsmacking match: Wycombe’s bipolar nature – making us a yo-yo team within our division/season as well as potentially between Leagues – has settled down of late and we’re riding on the back of some goaltastic wins which have lifted us out of the relegation zone. MK Dons, wearing very on-trend kits that were a bit Stella McCartney/Olympicswear with their ‘deconstructed-England-flag-sports-luxe’ look, were looking to dig their heels into the play-off position.

The first half was solid, if not scintillating, Wycombe doggedly working away under the gaze of Adams Park’s resident three red kites, wheeling serenely overhead like benevolent gods. I speculated that we should adopt them as either mascot or new nickname. There was an early penalty to the Dons; Nikki Bull distracted their striker by looking – especially in the glorious sunshine – like his tanned blonde form should be on Bondi Beach catching a few gnarly waves rather than in front of the terrace end down the back of an industrial estate in the Home Counties, and saved it brilliantly. Now that Gaz Ainsworth is eyeing up pipe-and-slippers territory, Captain Nikki is definitely the most characterful and heroic figure on the team.

The second half (following a wedding proposal by one fan to another at half time: congrats, Keith and Wendy!) began with an MK Dons goal that utterly took the wind out of WWFC’s sails, and clearly the fans’ too. I swear you could hear the air sag out of us slowly over the half like a retired set of bagpipes. Moaniness (and slight boredom on my part) kicked in and I began to see why we are still nicknamed the Chairboys and not the Kites: Wycombe looked less like graceful, keen-eyed raptors and rather more like zombiefied armchair botherers, stupefied on X-Boxification. Amazingly, a supporter in the family stand (the supremely quiet end) got up out of his seat and walked half the length of the pitch to berate the terrace end for being muted. Very odd!

Miraculously, from out of the desperate torpor of the closing stages, we had a few set-plays, and one final corner saw Nikki Bull barrelling up and attempting a header, and Stuart Beavon taking advantage of the general mêlée. Cue Bull storming round to the fans at the front to do a wall of high-fives. We left feeling like we’d won, and there was many a salutary hashtag of #BeavonforEuro2012 (people are wearing ‘I’ve got Beaver Fever!’ t-shirts, for god’s sake!), and tweets about us being the only proper team in Bucks, ya boo sucks, etc.

So, old school rock or boy bands? I'm not saying. I'm just off to listen to some Judas Priest...


Tonight's MOTD2 embarrassment: Lee Dixon and Alan Shearer looking all uncomfortable and joshing as Shay Given unabashedly extolls the virtues of yoga to help him keep trim and youthful; as if doing yoga is the equivalent of popping into a nail bar on the way to a burlesque class, finishing up with a night at Tiger Tiger getting lashed on Archer's and lemonades and dancing on a podium to old Whitney belters. For shame, chaps! Get your metrosexuality on, for the love of God*!


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Unexpected Rivalries: Two Unfortunates Blog and Gareth's musical news

A heads-up on my latest article for wondrous Football League bloggers, Two Unfortunates, on Wycombe's rivalries with Slough Town and Colchester United. Check it out here!

In other news: Slash 'is a Wycombe Wanderers fan' says BBC 5Live! I don't quite believe it, but by God, it makes for a far better claim than BBC Breakfast's Bill Turnbull. And it means our celebrity fan beats the hell out of Colchester's (read my article!!). Listen to an awestruck WWFC captain Gareth Ainsworth (whose musical escapades I REALLY must write about one of these days) interviewing his axe-wielding hero in a surreal meeting of minds here!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Four-Year Plan: Get Goals, Win League, Buy A New Helicopter

I watched the quite astonishing documentary, QPR: The Four-Year Plan, last night, which is surely a football doc for our modern times. It followed the club 2007-11, following their buyout by a conglomerate of largely rich, spoilt popinjays; whilst the title suggests that over four years, QPR worked their way patiently and measuredly to the top, really the title should have been 'QPR: The Three Year Plan Of Trying Out Every Manager Until You Find One You Don't Feel The Need To Insult, Followed By A Successful Year And Promotion, Almost Scuppered By Dodgy Dealings By One Of Our Crazies'. For three years, the power-hungry team, led by Flavio Briatore, lorded over the club, sifting through managers like cards in a pack, elbowing their way into the dressing room to try and make changes, and seeming to have no idea how a club should work. They wanted to play at this football lark, like a real-life version of Championship Manager mixed with Monopoly, and were just gallingly rude and obstreperous. Poor Gareth Ainsworth, now Wycombe's very own legend but previously a QPR mainstay, hovered quietly around in the background for a bit, occasionally having to do another stint as caretaker manager, before being rescued by us, knights in shining blue quarters.

The documentary laid bare the three-tier system: egocentric yacht-owners at the top, the players and manager (well-paid but exuding the air of good honest journeymen, one and all) in the middle, and right at the bottom, the fans, struggling to pay the most expensive seats in the Football League and surely following the managerial meddling (5 in one year!!!) with furious bafflement. My favourite moments were the threats of peasants' uprising: lunkheads singing derisory songs at Gianna Paladini as he smiled uneasily, surrounded by minders; and lustily singing 'fuck off, Flavio', to which the outrageously arrogant one simply said to fans 'find me the names of those who sang that. I want their names or I sell the club'. He needs taking down a peg or two (or at least the keys to his helicopter taking away).

Chelsea operates like this on a grander scale, with poor, adorably delicious Andreas Villas-Boas unsurprisingly now out on his ear. Andreas was a silly appointment I'm sure, a bit too young for such a mega-club, but once he was there, you'd think they might give him a BIT of a chance. In our instantaneous culture of everything-on-demand, chairmans and owners (and I'm sure, fans too), expect immediate, mostly utterly unrealistic results. No one has the werewithal, or the stomach, for the long game.

I'm not sure what Wycombe's Four Year Plan is. At the moment, our quite baffling short-term plan is to lose most of our games, some in extremis (Huddersfield walloped us 6-0, Scunthorpe 4-1 yesterday), with less occasional stonking wins (3-0 and 5-0 against Rochdale and Hartlepool respectively). Yet through a wetly crap season, our very own moneyed overlord, Steve Hayes, hasn't sacked Gary Waddock, and I respect him for that. Now, where's the door to my helipad...