Be warned: this is a football-related blog! But please don’t click away if you don’t love the beautiful game, for this post is about much more than just football, and I have a feeling most people will be able to relate to it. Trust me: you’re reading the words of someone who couldn’t talk to other men about football for a full and debilitating 30 years, so there’s no way I’d make this post too inaccessible.
When I first started learning about football around a year ago for this blog (my distinctly optimistic quest was to see if I could understand why people so loved football, and if I could go against everything I had done up until that point and somehow develop a genuine passion so that, when football came on the TV, I could jump up with my fellow countrymen and shout “FOOTBALL!” in that signature manly roar) Chelsea striker and blonde-haired, non-goal-scoring-sensation Fernando Torres was someone my feeble lack of knowledge latched onto in a big way: I admired how he could never-ever score a goal just like me down the park (when he was actually on the pitch, that was) and how his spectacular ability to be tackled by more or less anyone with legs would make him a popular target in parks all over the country, should he make the very un-wise decision of venturing outside his football ground and into the realm of small, angry children with a passion for kicking people’s shins and heads in (“For a millionaire you get A MILLION POINTS!”).
Oh, poor legend-of-extortionately-over-priced-Torres…there were days when he really felt my intellectual wrath; because as the goals didn’t come in and didn’t come in, his face of thunder growing darkly as he sat there earning hundreds-of-thousands-of-pounds on the bench, his name became synonymous with not only career failure, but failure of any kind:
I’d be walking with friends and see a stranger trip up over that dodgy piece of pavement which had nearly killed a pensioner just the week before: “Did you see that?” I’d say, “what a Torres!”
“Shutup, Chris,” they’d say, but I couldn’t help it, I was putting everything I had into learning how to do football, and this annoying symptom of sheer enthusiasm was the price.
I’d walk into the horrifically designed mirrored toilets at Cambridge Train Station and see a big yellow mess on the floor that really shouldn’t have been there considering how much bloody money we all pay National Rail every day. “Someone’s done a serious Torres,” I’d say, ignoring the other more disturbing Torres in the cubicle next door — brown and frightening, Chris, DO-NOT-LOOK! — and this would usually be as I realised I was stood in the first aforementioned yellow Torres (although technically this is inaccurate, as Torres’s reputation at the time was not one of missing them, as in missing the bowl, but for not even creating them to begin with. Although this analogy does work brilliantly for the brown Torres I described before…someone had definitely created that and it was literally as criminal as the wages professional footballers earn…).
And so it was that Torres quickly became associated, in my mind, with the failure of humanity in every single way you can possibly imagine. Until my friends got sick of me making this comparison, at which point I stopped (although it was too late for them, by then, as they were also saying it and it had got well and truly inside their heads!).
Then, one day recently, it all started to change…
OK, so Torres’s legs still predictably went to jelly whenever an attacker approached him (for those unaware of the man’s failings, the best I can liken his wobbly-legged manuevers to is the way in which, in The Birds, people get all panicked at the merest sight of a blackbird and start flailing around all over the place) but, every so often, when he was actually invited onto the pitch and had postponed his face-of-millionaire’s-doom for half an hour so, he was scoring goals. Not mega goals, usually, and not goals which will be remembered throughout history, but goals nonetheless. It seemed Torres’s career as a blonde-haired-laughing-stock was coming to an end…
…and this weekend, as Chelsea faced QPR, it finally happened: an event so unlikely that, when the wind was in the right direction, you could almost hear hundreds of thousands of very unlucky bookies complaining and muttering and complaining and handing over money. Not that you should feel sorry for these people, of course.
Yes, for on this particularly unfortunate occasion, QPR — home to professional thug and Twitter-addict Joey Barton — were set to be pounded in no small way by Torres’s legs, which had somehow done an Iron Man and turned from jelly to metal over-night! One goal? Oh, no, not today. Instead, Torres was to deliver a hat-trick (that’s 3 goals to those not in the know like I used to be) and it was about time. We’d all been waiting for what seemed like years!
The reason for this unbelievable change of fortune? The most likely theory, I think, is that Mrs Torres (Muma Torres, that is, with her legs made of thunder — I know, lots of thunder in this blog post, but that’s the only word to use — and her face made of scorn) sat Fernando down on her knee and gave him a very stern talking-to the night before the game, promising that if he didn’t deliver, she would no longer feel able to deliver the kind of professionally-dyed-hair that Torres had become so known for.
Here’s to Torres scoring more and actually doing his job. Yes, it means that I will have to find a new football player to ridicule, but at least it also means a few more exciting games for Chelsea! If it continues…