Que Sera Sera

Posted on May 21, 2012


How can thirty thousand people make so little noise? So many voices be lost within their own throats? Fading away, in one long meek line of soundless humanity, from the disaster zone of Wembley, seventy thousand shoes make no sound. Their world ending with a whimper. It is haunting, in the way that a house is haunting, when a familiar of it is no longer present. A space left unfilled. The silence of loss.

Finally, a child cries, unable to understand this injustice. Too young, they have never had their innocence stamped down on so senselessly before. Women cry too. Silent, sympathetic tears. Balms, that do not fall as teardrops, but swirl in circles over the whites of their eyes. Soft focusing their faces, in futile attempts at reassurance.

The men do not cry. They stare. Immense thousand yard stares, that hold no sign of life, or anything, within them. These men do not look at the children either, or the women, nor each other. They simply stare out from faces as flat as a punctured tyre, one found clinging sadly onto a  discarded and rusting bicycle frame.

Unable to look at the world, the men turn ever inwards. Deeper into the pit of their own despair. Recognizing in that hell, not only this defeat, but something of their own wretched lives. Hearing, ringing, within their ears , every ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, accompanied by a chorus of , ‘we’re going to have to let you go’. Fated to lose. And in the face of this beaten down, beige tobacco spit void, they simply nod, and stare, for in truth there is little else to do. The men do not cry.

The saying goes that football is not a matter of life, or death,  that it is more important than that, which is a lie. Nothing, is as important, or beautiful, as life. Except, right now, amongst these men, it would be hard to argue that death would not be a blessed relief from this horror. This base nothingness, against which they are helpless.

Football, any sport, is a rich pantomime. The pitch, a canvas, across which charactertures of our lives play out. Two sides, good and evil, one to cheer, another to boo, with plot twists so fantastical, no script writer would dare submit one line of them to a director.

Many people, and places, claim the creation of our game for their own. Its true origin found in an invocation of life’s greatest theatre. The battle for the soul. A performance played out at primitive funeral games, where the people of a tribe divided into two groups. A mock struggle for the departed body taking place between them. One side representing the forces of light, the other darkness.

Later, this ceremony evolved into a game, in which the skull alone of the departed was used as the object of combat.  An alased Yorick, to be kicked into a goal, usually a stream. Sadly, it is not recorded which side was victorious, nor, if the battle for the immortal soul ever went to penalties.

In life, and football, evil holds equal sway. And so, thirty thousand souls, multiplied in multitudes every year, by the great throng of all who have ever loved, and lost, stare, and nod, and wish that once, just once, it was their year.

Hope though, just does not know when to quit. In a spectacular denial of reason, despite all accumulated knowledge of past failure, each year, stupid and wonderful, the rich pageant begins a new.Today, at Wembley, versus York City, it reached its climax.

Kindling as a tiny ember in your pocket as your set off from home. Growing into a burning flame as you emerge from the Tube station, into the great orange army of your own tribe. Singing together  the songs of hope, and life, each chorus proclaiming that you are here, alive, and, that you will win.

These are your people. This is your team, from your town. True kin, and for one brief moment in the sun, you are invincible. Marching as to war. Swiftly, comes the preludes, merging seamlessly from the anthems, into the division bell of the whistle, and on impossibly, into a riot of ecstasy and joy. A kiss on the first date, no, more, the whole shebang.

One -nil to the Town, and less than a minute gone.Then, like life, the desperate holding on. The inevitable reply, a court summons of a goal. One-One. Now, all hands are on deck, working that hope, singing, praising. Offering up prayers to god, the eternal referee.

Who, dressed in hangman’s black, always holds your fate within his human hands, and, as fickle as a cat, suddenly smites you. An old testament god. Deaf and blind, to your final plea. Offside? Ref! Offside! One – Two.

It is over, and the great pilgrimage back to flat packed homes begins. All that hope running away into the the urine stench of the overflowing toilets. The men do not cry. And that is that.

However, like any tragedy, on any stage, there is always a fool. A drunken buffoon, who, well, who does not know that this is it, the end. Like a rainbow, these jesters only come out after rain, bringing  with them the sunshine, one more time.

‘We are Luton Town’ they sing. A lone voice in the darkness. ‘ We are Luton Town’, and well, even the men who stare, can not argue with this. It’s a fact, a forever truth of birth, and so, slowly at first, a mumbled incantation begins, passed like some secret from mouth to mouth, building until it becomes a mighty, defiant chorus.

One that breaks through the gloom, rolling like thunder, ever onwards to August. To the rebirth of a new season. For maybe, next year, really, actually, this time, it is going to be our year.

Que sera sera.