Hi, I'm Dr. HAWLEY GRIFFIN. I've taken some time off my appallingly heavy schedule to ring out my spleen like a window cleaner's chamois leather, and highlight what I believe to be the scurge of British society today - namely the football fan. Did I mention that I'm a doctor? (I didn't have buy this white coat, you know?). And, as a doctor, you must take heed of all I have to say, for I am better than you and your kind. I know, I've been watching you for some time now...
I HAVE TO say from the outset that I'm not a football fan - my interest dwindled in the moments after I discovered that I was not, and never would be, any good at it. But I like to think that I can appreciate its worth. The nation's favourite waste of time, the great leveller, the emotional enabler, teasing snot and tears from the inarticulate and repressed, like worms after rain. See passion bubble up like soup simmering. Even my tiny modicum of footballing knowledge has seen me through any number of otherwise embarrassingly silent haircuts, taxi rides and drunken pub arguments. It's the oil of masculine social interaction; the gelatine in the bloke pie.
Maybe it even has a religious component in our secular society, the stadium as polytheistic cathedral is a sustainable argument (though Lord knows not by me) So it's a boon, a national obsession, Britain's great romance. I can see that. But it casts a long shadow over this country. The bone crunching violence of the 70's, the international incidents that have done more to tarnish our reputation abroad than 40 years of package holidaying and our modern day lowest common denominator colonisation of the Balearic islands. And Arsenal fans. A breed apart your Arsenal fan.
Sweeping herdlike from Finsbury Park to Upper Street these misshapen cudsters branded with " jvc " wobbling inexpertly from pub to pub, crashing and drooling, picking clean the " Highbury Vintner " of everything but " vint ". Blocking pavements, bellowing inanities, sweating profusely and presenting you that sense of unease that every large, unregulated body instils on those peripheral to it. I'm not sure I'm overstressing the fascistic element either as the red menace sweeps through North London clearing a path like a roman fasces only to refill it immediately with discarded Skol cans and wooden chip forks.
These knuckle dragging goobers, scribbled with DIY tattoos, pissed by lunchtime and dragging their nine year old sons behind them, who are in turn dragging on an unfiltered Rothmans. This snaggle-toothed flotilla of On the Buses extras who, with their tinted shades, sovs and dandruff flecked wet-looks appear to imagine Viz's "Cockney Wanker " to be an aspirational life style choice. Their women (and these are OWNED women) indistinguishable in their identikit corporate tabards, barring frosted perms and Gypsy earrings, so riddled with tattoo ink that their arms look like blue cheese, hobbling behind their men with that peg-legged waddling gait so beloved of the morbidly obese. A couple rendered sexless by their his 'n' hers red bibs, a couple celebrating subsumation into a collective that doesn't even allow for gender difference, initiates of a bacchanalian cult that purports to worship physical prowess and inspired tactical management but which instead propagates a culture of aggression and drunkenness and the nullification of the individual in deference to a swollen homogenised mass. I believe that the trains always ran on time under Arsenal.
Of course, there's bitterness and a little jealousy here. If I'd ever shown even the slightest aptitude for the sport I might have sustained enough interest in the beautiful game to learn the off-side rule, the clubs and player's histories, the results of important matches over the last hundred years and the rest of the vast database of inherited information that 'real men' seem to have as their birthright. Maybe I too could have been staggering round the streets of North London with 20,000 of my best mates.
But I tell you this. I wouldn't be wearing an Arsenal top!