by Jack Heaney
So the vast majority squawk; it is ‘just a game’. This football stuff, it doesn’t matter really. It is meaningless in comparison to other, more sugary aspects of our life such as love, or perhaps living itself. Any website – any facebook page. I guarantee you will stumble across that type of comment. The type which I still maintain is vacant, hollow and inherently contradictory. Just a game. Just like scrabble. Or drunken twister. Or perhaps a few rounds of Snap!
Of course, if we are to take this notion to its logical conclusion…well, then it all becomes rather convoluted and inconveniently tricky, doesn’t it? Bob Dylan is not the poet of a generation. He’s just a guy with an acoustic and a way with words. The film Philadelphia with Tom Hanks? Not the profound masterpiece which lightened eyes from a homophobic darkness; nope, just a handful of people playing pretend, perched in front of lights and cameras. George Orwell’s 1984? Just words.
I hope my point is clear. Anything that relentlessly hypnotises humans – anything that consumes us like football does – is more than its raw, base description. It is art. If you’ll allow this headstrong lout to opine, the ‘just a game’ saying is a vapid, desecrated, skewed viewpoint. We bestow upon life such a sacred, tender gracefulness and awe; yet how interesting that hours upon hours of that precious life are spent watching football. The game is more than a game. Therein lies the allure, and it should be imbued and inculcated within every one of us. We must cherish and promulgate that point to the heavens above. And of course if football is more than a game, then football clubs are more than just clubs.
And this is why Blackburn Rovers, still flush with the unsubtle, supine disease of Venky’s, are so tragic. I am not a Rovers fan. But this club are not to be laughed at. They are not to be insulted. Any dignified football fan must stride with them in a battle against what amounts to nothing more than sleazy, repugnant molestation, hidden under a carapace of insulting, lip-trembling, woe-is-me delusion by the bone-jarring joker of the putrid pack – Steve Kean. Remember in May, when Blackburn were relegated? The enduring image of the Blackburn Rovers crest sullied by Lancashire rain and syringed by infection should never leave you.
It could be your club. Would Mr Kean have ‘dignity’ then?
I hesitated before writing this article because the latest development in the sorry saga was so very inevitable. The reports came in: Kean to be sacked. He was supposed to pick up 16 points yet picked up 14. Hilariously some even offer that as a reason to be a Kean-apologist. The reports came in again: Kean will still be in charge for at least one more game. Haven’t we heard this one before? Who exactly is this man? What credentials does he possess? Does his ego know no bounds: to have the audacity – the gall – to claim that exciting times lie ahead for Blackburn after overseeing their relegation is an insult. And there’s a long list of them.
If this charlatan cared a jot about the club he ‘represents’ (in actuality he embodies not a hair on the Blackburn head) he would have resigned. That would be dignity; but then, just how did Kean get the Blackburn gig again? Oh. Oh yeah, we remember. He is not ‘optimistic’ or ‘determined’, but deluded and deranged. A selfish man concerned with his own needs, not his clubs.
Perhaps some of the spotlight has been diluted since Rovers relegation. With fans exiting the stands and not returning, one would expect the common sense to prevail. Perhaps the most baffling aspect of it all is the Media’s sympathy for Kean. Especially towards the end of last season, it was the Blackburn fans being tarred because of ‘violence’. What is honestly expected of them? Should they merely stand there while a nugget of their town is buried underneath swindlers, corruption and moral abjection? Just imagine the feeling – be empathetic. You spend your money to watch the team. A connection between you and the club matures: memories of visits to the stadium with mums and dads, or triumphant wins that are etched into your memory delicately but deeply.
And now it is sapped from you; over a century of history; an institution that began 37 years before the Titanic sunk. The football world often sees things haphazardly, but the way some protected the incompetent Kean was earthworm low. Not to mention Venky’s: parachute payments, believing they could challenge for the Champions League on an absurdly low budget, the absentee landlords aspect of their egotistically ignominious era. If Kean is ever removed – and sometimes it feels as though he never will be – it is a step. But Venky’s intentions are still dark and murky. They are still morally bankrupt. And remember what happens when one is eliminated? A power vacuum. The truth is, Venky’s are so far removed from logic that an afterbirth could convince them to fork out a salary. Who knows who they could pick to replace Kean?
As ever with these situations, it is the fans that pay. Cross-town rivalries should pale. When Kean holds his hand up to the fans after the final whistle of a match, he is drowning – not waving. Any football worth his or her salt should realise that the work of every legendary figure at the club – from Jack Walker to Simon Garner – is being undone. By now, hopefully most stand with Blackburn. But there’s always room for improvement.
Alas, Rovers neighbourhood is being ravished. But collectively now we should all stand alongside Blackburn fans. For they are the only ones trying to restore it.