Claps, Clicks & Whistles #25

There was going to be a ranty post here this morning, but somehow I can’t summon up the energy.

I think it’s probably because at the time of writing there still hasn’t been an official announcement to confirm Gareth Bale’s return to the Tottenham Hotspur squad after seven years away playing for some team called Real Madrid, so I’m…distracted.

I haven’t been this excited about a “new” player arriving at the club since we signed Rafael Van Der Vaart, also from Real Madrid, back in 2010.

I was sharing a flat with Hel at the time, and we would spend many a happy weekend watching football. Hel, bless her, had to get used to me making the same jokes and, occasionally, singing a theme tune I had attributed to a certain player. I think I eventually ground her down enough that she actually enjoyed it in the end, but I wouldn’t bet much money on it. To the uninitiated, I fear it might come across as a tad on the Colin Hunt from The Fast Show-side:

My behaviour when watching football then, and now when I live on my own if I’m honest, was very much rooted in the time when I lived with Hel’s brother, Llŷr. Oh-so-many of our hours were whiled away watching TV and making stupid jokes, each trying to make the other laugh, and this was never more true than when watching football together. We thought we were like David Baddiel and Frank Skinner when they used to do Fantasy Football League, only funnier (we thought) and less well paid (we knew).

I’ll explain, but be warned, none of these will sound even remotely funny to you.

Llŷr and I would often develop running jokes or catch-phrases we would say whenever a player was mentioned. Often these would be based on some banal bon mot delivered by the TV commentator: for example, during one match, the commentator said: “Steven Gerrard, there. A Liverpool player, through and through. Cut him, and he bleeds red.” On another occasion, Chelsea and Germany captain Michael Ballack was described as “a true sporting professional. He does not like to lose!”. So whenever Gerrard was subsequently mentioned, it would be a race to see which of us could say “bleeds red” first; with Ballack it would be “hates losing.” And so on.

By the time I moved in with Hel, this had developed (I say developed…that implies some kind of improvement, doesn’t it…?) into the following categories:

i) Any player who used to play for Spurs would be labelled a “Tottenham reject” every time they were mentioned in commentary;

ii) Any player who used to play for Peterborough (my home town) would be labelled a “Posh reject” (this one cropped up less frequently, to be fair);

The “joke” here was that usually the player is question had gone on to play for a better team than either of those, if by “better” you mean “more successful”.

iii) Certain players would have their name pronounced in what I found an amusing manner. Glen Johnson would always be said in a deep, smooth voice, meant to mimic Johnson from Peep Show; Steven Pienaar would be whined “Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeynar”, like a US high school surfer dude might.

iv) Occasionally – very occasionally – they would get their name sung to the chorus of a song – you know, like they do on the terraces.

And my favourite of these – and as I write this I have a nagging feeling I may have written about this before, but I’ve come this far now I’m not going to stop and check or I’ll have to think of something else to write about – was the one I used to sign whenever – and I mean whenever – Van Der Vaart’s name came up, which was simply bellowing his name to the chorus of this tune:

God, I’m annoying.

More soon.