2015/16 and all that

A fitting end to the most extraordinary of seasons sees the resting place of KRIII (as we call the bottled spider up int’Void) havin a party, with TLF getting the extra bonus of a random upgrade at the Holiday Inn Leicester (dunno why they spell it wrong).

Monday’s party attendance cost me a days annual leave and the princely sum of £255 (hotel, train and incidentals) which sounds a lot until you divide it by the number of seasons spent supporting Lesta through thin and a bit thinner and all of a sudden £5.52 per year sounds like a bargain. And to be honest you could have doubled it, trebled it and more besides and it would still have been money well spent. The most exhilarating, bonkers, unexpected thing to happen to my lifelong football team needs to be celebrated in style (CIS).

CIS is proving to be a handy phrase. As is IWNHA*. Both justify a multitude of purchases and excess – 3 flags, 2 pieces of art work, 1 tattoo (pending inspiration) and 5 t-shirts (1 was a gift!!) to date….and I think that you, Mr TLF and Mr HSBC know the opening of the wallet may not be over yet.

But as with every season I have experienced as TLF, it is the stuff that doesn’t have pounds shillings and pence attached to it (old skool) that really counts and at the risk of sounding, like I do at the end of every season, like some sad Oscar winner, some acknowledgments are in order:

To my fellow mighty Saints fans: thank you for the camaraderie, humour, crash course in running a tote, lifts to away games, lifts home, the best wishes and delight for my other City’s success which have made for brilliant weekends and also reminded me how lucky I am to be involved with a local club.

To everyone who just seems quite pleased for me and my football team: I have been chuffed as mint balls as 32 texts celebratory text messages arrived the night that Lesta won the league, from the usual suspects of course but also from friends around the world and those who NEVER text me about football. I have been congratulated at work, had hilarious and touching emails and been told by long term friends that their friends are saying, “what was the name of your Lesta mate?….she must be delighted.” Just lovely to be honest.

To my lucky shirt and socks: the secret ingredient in a spectacular season. You are really filthy, a bit smelly and VERY LUCKY.

To my two City managers:
Ian Allison, he came, he saw, he inherited a Saints team at the bottom of the league. He looked like a proper gaffer, behaved like a proper gaffer and pulled a great escape out of the bag. He might not have the Ranieri lines but he performed his own miracle.

And then we do have to come to our Lord Claudio. The man who charms the press, the fans and the world. Who told us to never wake up and never stop dreaming. Whose players are very concentrate-ed, who gets an opera singer to serenade his crowd. Who buys his players pizza when they finally keep a clean sheet. Who I admit I wasn’t sure about. Who made us all love him and who because he was so charming made everyone else love us. Forza Claudio and grazie.

To Mr TLF: er…sorry for all the mardy grumpiness when:
* we sacked Nigel Pearson
* we appointed Claudio Ranieri
* ever Lesta dropped points
* Arsenal scored that last minute winner – yep that one when I slammed the door and stormed out of the house – after I had promised I’d be calm no matter what the result

An artist's impression of TLF post that last minute Arsenal defeat

An artist’s impression of TLF post that last minute Arsenal defeat

* Spurs had won 4-0 after Lesta had drawn 2-2 with West Ham and I realised Vardy would get an additional suspension
* Spurs went 2-0 up against Chelsea
* I was generally a gloomy, doomy TLF
And also sorry for my response to you when you said that we had qualified for the Champions League and so I should see winning the title as the ‘icing on the cake’. It went along the lines of, “YES I CAN SEE THAT. BUT IMAGINE IF THE CHEF HAS THROWN AWAY THE PIPING BAG!?” No I didn’t understand it either….And on the positive; thank you for your continued patience during all the times when footballing things went well and I was an exuberant, absent, sometimes intoxicated and possibly annoying (shurely shome mishtake) TLF.

There will now be a short interlude as I track down a few brain cells lost in the celebrations. Am thinking regular Euro 2016 would be a foolish commitment…but being a very foolish TLF I imagine I might just see you back here on Friday 9 June. Ca alors!

Claudio Fox

* It Will Never Happen Again

2015/16 - all done

2015/16 – all done

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Lesta Fiesta

When you’re smiling when you’re smiling the whole world smiles with you.
When you’re laughing when you’re laughing the sun comes shining through.
But when you’re crying you bring on the rain. So stop your sighing be happy again.
Keep on smiling, coz when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.
The. Whole. World. Smiles. With. Youuuuuuuuuuu.
Ah Lesta. Ah Lesta!
(A traditional East Midlands arrangement)

On 26 April 2008, Lesta City needed to beat Sheffield Wednesday to avoid relegation to Division One or what traditionalists like to call ‘the old Division Three’, a low to which the Foxes had never previously slumped. In those days I sat with Simon, Pete (sadly residing in the football stadium in the sky since 2013….and if you think that is sentimental you might want to walk away now) and Clacton Dave. And yes my young apprentices he is indeed thus named because he is called Dave, and he is from Clacton. A true Lesta blue it would be harder to find and even though for the last four years or so he hasn’t been able to get to games we have kept in touch via text.

In typical Lesta fashion we took the lead then lost our defensive rock to injury, missed a penalty and conceded three goals.

TLF (although of course I wasn’t called that then cos I didn’t even know where St Albans was) started crying once the penalty was missed; I just kinda knew. Clacton Dave didn’t speak. He just put his arm round me for the rest of the game and at the final whistle looked at me with just the hint of a tear. The next week with a win essential and other results required to go our way we drew 0-0 with Stoke and were officially relegated.
On my birthday.

Eight years later and Lesta City are having a fookin’ massive parteh me duck, to which the whole of the city and half of Italy seem to have been invited. My home City is festooned in blue and everyone is….well smilin’.

I’m smiling because I’ve never washed down a Carluccio’s magnifico breakfast with a pint of Peroni before and let me tell you it’s a successful combination. TLF’s party begins in the Lesta branch of this Italian chain, eating with Dad and step-mum. It feels the right thing to do because that’s where 13 months ago I had a pre-match meal with them and confessed I didn’t much feel like going to watch Lesta, bottom of the league, lose to Mr TLF’s West Ham. I was given short shrift and sent on my way to the ground with a reminder of ‘my responsibilities’. Lesta won; the start of last season’s great escape.

Homage paid to that fateful day it was then time to join Simon & Co in the pub. Bit disappointed to draw Danny Drinkwater from the team drinks lottery. I was hoping for a Long Island Kante or a Matty Jamiesons (BOOM!BOOM!). But recognising it could be a long and messy afternoon TLF sticks with what TLFs know best; Amstel. And the longer we are there, the more we develop a simple MO:

* Another beer
* Another chant
* Another cheer for the mad bug#ers walking past with bells and flags
* Another, shaking of head accompanied by the words, “I can’t get my head round this, we’ve really done it.”
* Another fond anecdote

Before we get into the ground there is a massive clap of thunder, the heavens open (maybe the weather Gods are Spurs fans?) and we get soaked. And none of us really care because many of us are VERY pissed and all of us are the happiest Lesta fans EVER in 132 years. People whose knees you have squeezed past season after season are now your best mates and random strangers want a hug. It is VERY bonkers and VERY brilliant.

Seats finally reached and in theory Bocelli and Nessun Dorma should be making me cry. But no. It is a man called Clacton Dave who has miraculously got a ticket in our bit of the ground. We hug and TLF is officially a teary mess. I remind him of Sheffield Wednesday. And he nods. And we all blub. God I love football.

Simon, Soph and Clacton. Some of these people might have been drinking....

Simon, Soph and Clacton. Some of these people might have been drinking….

The game that follows?

To be honest I remember more about that bloody Sheffield Wednesday game (ironically we finished with the same scoreline but in our favour this time)……But I think that’s ok, because the bit after – trophy, fireworks, lap of honour and celebratory wotnot that I never thought I would ever see – that’s the bit when even pessimistic TLF has to accept she ain’t dreaming and this really IS happening. And just like the whole season it is unforgettable.

The journey home is pants. But it doesn’t really matter….
“Champions of England
We know what we are!”

Dilly Ding Dilly Dong Fox

"Nooo. Of course I won't come back with a load of official & dodgy memorabilia."

“Nooo. Of course I won’t come back with a load of official & dodgy memorabilia.”

Posted in Match days | 2 Comments

The TLF Double

Part 1
So there you go.
Against the odds.
Making the impossible, possible.
We did it.
St Albans City avoided relegation.

Yeah I know that’s not technically the BIG story. The one you expected. But as far as Hertfordshire is concerned it’s HUGE. Plus TBF (to be fair) TLF, it’s in my comfort zone. Relegation battles that’s what TLF is used to, with the occasional smattering of promotion to keep the wolf from the door. That’s my comfort zone. Not worrying about the possibility of achieving or throwing away internationally reported football glory. Plus if nothing else let’s show a little respect to chronological order. And the mighty Saints were the first up for a date with fate (see what I did there…) on the Satday.

And fate was already on the side of the Saints (that’s how to avoid any apostrophe indecision). Midweek results from elsewhere meant WIN and Saints were safe. Anything else and there would other results to factor in – nerve jangling, definitely and then you have to factor in boys on their smartphones with real time league tables providing the most unwelcome updates EVER.

Even with so much at stake and a general consensus that knotted stomachs and utter panic were the order of the day many people still found time to wish TLF and Lesta luck for the following day. It’s called being kind and the people of my adopted team do it brilliantly. And in spades (although Knocky’s premature rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to the Lost Fox’ wasn’t necessarily ‘kind’ on the ears).

Fortunately for our blood pressure and stress levels turns out the players from SACFC were up for doing it in spades too. If the first goal was greeted with relief and a few tears (laydeez you know who we are) and sharing between three of a celebratory pint (trouble with a massive crowd is beer queue excess), the second, third and fourth were greeted with jigs of joy as we realised that there was not a chance the mighty Saints would lose this one.

We are the Mighty Saints and WE ARE STAYING UP!

Best programme editor in the world receives his trophy from El Presidente

Best programme editor in the world receives his trophy from El Presidente

Wonder who plays centre half!?

Wonder who plays centre half!?

Just time for a pitch invasion by small children (Security really didn’t know what to do with that one…), a couple of beers to congratulate the manager and players on a great escape (stats to follow in my end of season blog), cheer on the mighty Sir Lee of Wood – massively deserved clubman of the year, prove that our centre half Darren Locke is quite tall….or maybe Donna, Julie and TLF are a bit short.

……..AND then go home, worrying ever so slightly that perhaps rationing applies to football happiness – maybe if one City avoids relegation on the last day then all other things being equal the other City can’t succeed – like some new and cruel law of physics.

Part 2a
Settle down in front of the TV chez TLF. Lesta just need to beat Manoooo.

They don’t.
In fact for a good chunk of the first half and the latter part of the second they contrive to lose but come away with a draw. TLF wearily shakes her ‘disappointment comes naturally to a lifelong Lesta fan’ head, despairs of the excess media coverage which has ‘clearly jinxed us’ and remains calm.

Part 2b

Settle down in front of TV, at TLF Towers. Lesta need Spurs to lose or draw.

By half time they are doing the opposite.

TLF cannot bear it and is convinced on basis of no evidence whatsoever (other than 47 years of ups and downs with the emphasis generally on the latter) that her team is doomed to failure. TLF adopts the mature response, stomps off upstairs and hides under the duvet in the dark.

Mr TLF remains calm, staying in front of the TV and thus wins the right to be the first to inform TLF that her team, little Lesta City have won the Premier League.




Match stats
St Albans City 4 Dartford 0
Attendance: 1,310!!!! Please come back more often….but don’t use the bar (see below)
Bar queues sort of jumped at half time (to my eternal shame): 1
Unlucky raffle and goalden goal tickets purchased: 12, but I don’t care
Beers consumed: More than intended.
Snackage: 1 sausage roll. I don’t even like sausage rolls. Oh and there is a vague memory of appropriating a piece of pizza off a small child. OOPS.

Blogging-from-Cloud-9 Fox

Posted in Match days | 2 Comments

Ever decreasing circles

During a discussion about stress, a work colleague shared with me a simple idea to try and keep TLF stress levels the right side of DefCon 1. He introduced me to the circle of concern and the circle of control. The circle of concern (yellow) represents all your worries. Inside that big circle is a smaller one – the circle of control (blue) which represents all those worries that you can actually do anything about. Your mission is to concentrate on those and not waste time on the yellow ones. The aim is for that inner circle to get bigger and bigger – meaning you just focus on the things that you can actual influence.

In these perilous times and after a spectacular sulk following the West Ham draw, the Jamie Vardy red card and the Spurs 4-0 defeat of Stoke I thought anything was worth a try.


As you can see, I’ve really got the hang of it.

I know what you are thinking. That I am potentially looking at a great escape AND an unlikely championship but let me assure you, while the Fox might be standing at the door of the coop, it ain’t counting no chickens.

Slighty-on-the-edge Fox

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The joy of six

It’s not often you get to enjoy six on a Satday afternoon. Especially outdoors and at our age.

And with so many friends to share the ecstasy.

You’d almost call it group six

OK. I will try and remain an innuendo free TLF for the rest of this ramble. But it is hard to guarantee anything with the giddiness that is induced by spanking (sorry) fellow relegation nominees 6-0.

Admittedly TLF did only get to enjoy five of the goals. I was a tardy TLF by a mere four minutes but by then we had taken the lead. The second was a corker and went in while I was purchasing my bacon cob and trying to manage Andy the Burger’s expectations for my other City (and the less said about that the better). Still, as any fule kno TLF is not an optimist and was not yet ready to properly celebrate. A minimum four goal cushion is TLF’s kind of bolster. Clearly the players are aware of the pessimistic bin dipper in their midst with a third goal duly arrived as TLF was taking her place on the terraces. Time and Michael Thalassitis wait for no TLF.

Within 40 minutes we were 4-0 up after one of those perfect moments when you watch the cross into the box and know that the mighty Charlie MacDonald will be on the end of it to knock it goal bound. Cue pandemonium and a sense of disbelief. Adding to the group bonhomie was the fact that all the teams around the Mighty Saints were losing, propelling us up and out of the relegation zone.

Changing positions, particularly after such a powerful start can sometimes lead to disappointment. But the players rose to the occasion putting another two past the beleaguered opposition keeper. Being relaxed without a care in the world AND watching my football team at the same time is a rarity, probably only achieved through strong medication or a six goal lead.

Inevitably in the afterglow of such a performance the euphoria of sharing six with so many carries on into the bar. Existing relationships are refreshed and renewed, new friends are made and caution may well be thrown to the wind. At the recently christened Table of ill repute (thank you Lord Lee of Wood for that bon mot), TLF committed to next Satday’s away game and another road trip with Julie, without prior domestic consultation. And Julie agreed to offer a lift back to new Irish acquaintance Andrew (I know. You kinda feel sorry for him already).

The celebratory mood in the bar continued as the players and management joined us in the bar. While I have 46 years of history with my beloved Lesta, I don’t think that any time soon the assistant manager will be offering me spare pizza or I’ll be able to tap our star striker on the shoulder and ask him to ‘pop over’ because someone has got a question they want to ask him. And even if I could I am not sure the reaction would have been so patient and good humoured.

Happy days.
You might even say the earth moved.

Alex Comfort Fox

Match Stats
St Albans City 6 Havant and Waterlooville 0
Attendance: 702
Goalden goal tickets (bought by Julie dos TLF was late) One loser
Raffle tickets (see above re purchase) 5 losers
Calorific intake: 1 well done bacon cob and 1 packet bacon fries
Liquid refreshment: 1 pint Stella, 2 bottles German stuff and a cheeky half

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Signal failure

Sometimes the only solution to the combined traumas of a relegation battle and an improbable pursuit of a Premiership title is to run away. Escape to a rural idyl. Even if it’s a FFZ (football free zone) rural idyll, (which technically would make it a FFZRI), it is the best FFZRI I know, complete with good company, shenanigans and carousing guaranteed.

And that is why on a Friday evening South West trains were graced with the presence of both TLF & Mr TLF as we boarded at Waterloo en route to Dorchester South (technically and in the interests of blogging continuity it could be argued that like members of the Royal Family we should travel separately but on this occasion no matter). The TLFs were on their way to the aforementioned FFZRI, the village of Swyre (pop. 102). While there was unreliable wifi en route, this was more than made up for by the smorgasbord of delights that they they had at their disposal; four cans of Stella, five mini bottles of wine (various) and assorted snackage of a savoury variety. Like a Boy Scout, and it is perhaps where the comparison ends, TLF is always prepared.

It is hard to get the inhabitants of a FFZRI interested in the footballing news from the Shires as it slowly crawls i, via that weak Dorset wifi signal. Mr TLF raises a perfunctory eyebrow of celebration as TLF imparts the news that St Albans have defeated Maidenhead away from home accompanied with a non-beer assisted ‘another-step-in-the-relegation-battle-successfully-negotiated’ jig. But other than that there is nothing. No response. Zip. It’s a tough crowd in Dorset……

Clearly the ideal time to catch a train home (with an extra hour added on as a treat cos you have the audacity to travel on a Sunday) is when Lesta kick off against Sunderland. Remembering the wifi issues on the outward journey and in the interests of finger nails, mental health and temper a TLF media blackout is imposed. Just to add to the ‘fun’ the train crawls for miles as signalling problems lead to an extra imposition in the form of speed restrictions. This does not help with TLF’s feeble attempts at Zen like calm. Mr TLF has once again flagrantly flouted the don’t-bet-on-my-team rule but retains a remarkably calm demeanour for one who has a) risked the wrath of TLF with his potentially jinxing wager and b) has a financial interest in the outcome.

Finally the waiting is over, the final whistle must have gone and there is a sniff of a signal on the old electronic devices. The time it takes for the BBC website to refresh feels like an age. But finally it is confirmed, and it is good news. A relieved TLF triumphantly relays the good fortune to Mr TLF.
“Yeah I know I’ve been getting secret text updates for the last 90 minutes.”
Cue an early Battle of Waterloo.

Train Manager Fox

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Slave labour

There are always difficult choices to make when both my Cities are scheduled to play at home at the same time. Whose turn is it? And is it perhaps inevitable that the spurned team will win, just to spite me?

Last weekend however the footballing gods had intervened and provided me with a dilemma of a different nature/potential domestic diplomatic incident (rest assured nothing a la The Archers). While the God of Fixtures (FaPremierus) had seen to fit to make Satday 2nd April a DHFD (double home fixture day), the God of Sky (Murdochista) had intervened, meaning Lesta City would be kicking off on the Sunday. Now the causal observer might think that was the perfect solution to my little footballing problemette. But to the regular TLF observer they can see the red flag being hoisted.

Yup the need to convince Mr TLF that while, yes technically this would mean he was being “Left at home. Alone. Again. For two days on the trot.” It was still a GOOD THING. I had to employ just the right mixture of stealth, cunning and scheming to get this right. And when that didn’t work I just opted for good old grovelling to get agreement that I could avoid all domestic weekend drudgery in exchange for a full footballing weekend.

What Mr TLF doesn’t seem to realise though is that it is no picnic for those of us who are chained not to the kitchen sink but to the terraces. For starters, time and energy needs to be invested in the usual bonhomie, drinking and chat at Clarence Park (what I think you would refer to in a football watching business plan as ‘business as usual’); it doesn’t just happen magically. The fairy that usually makes tea at 5.30am on a weekday doesn’t follow you to the ground so it can start buying your drinks or come up with some bad puns; you have to put the graft in.

Then there is the mental pressure; the constant reminder that everyone in the country (bar the Spurs fans) are ‘depending’ on your other team is a heavy burden to place on a TLF’s shoulders. And don’t get me started on managing our Clarence Park relegation fears, apart from having to watch through our fingers as we don’t manage an equaliser there is also the constant updating from fellow relegation candidates’ games and the calculation of various permutations as to what those results mean for our league position. This is more effort than goes into your average washing up bowl at TLF Towers.

There’s also a not insignificant shopping task to undertake, our honourable shopkeeper having a new range of fine Saints items to contemplate. Although to be honest as you can perhaps imagine choosing between a blue T-shirt and a pink one is not a tough call for a TLF.

Good job that bit was easy as on this particular Satday there is still further work to be done. Hordes of Maidstone United fans are in town and they need liquid refreshment. Julie and I act as back up bar staff to Michael, with Hatboy acting as tipper of the kegs. (tipping is not as hard as pouring though, that’s much more effort). Although I had worked my little paws to the bone there was still time to complete one more chore with a little impromptu glass collecting and bar tidying at half time. Honestly Mr TLF doesn’t know how easy he has it at home.

You just can't get the staff these days.....

You just can’t get the staff these days…..

The formalities of the Premier League mean that there is no chance I will be called upon to help behind the scenes at Filbert Way, but don’t be thinking Sunday was about Slacker TLF. A lunch time kick off meant an early train and then I’ve got 90 minutes of panic to get through as somehow Lesta City are very tomato puréed (well Claudio does say his players are very concentrated) and manage another 1-0 win.

On both evenings I get home to find my tea on the table. Good job. I’m exhausted.

Never off-duty Fox

Match stats
St Albans City 1 Maidstone Utd 2
Attendance: 852
Alcohol: 3 pints consumed, numerous poured.
Snackage: Hooray, bacon fries are back.
Losing raffle tickets: 10. But would I have had the energy to carry them home if I had won?!

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Rain (and dog) stopped play

Sometimes it is just not meant to be.

Having successfully negotiated a Bank Holiday Monday football eggstravaganza (sorry), with a free pass to the full Hemel away experience (meet pub 10am for breakfast and pint, cab to somewhere for more beer, walk to ground for 1pm kick off) my plans were scuppered by the intervention of Storm Katie. Clearly not a football fan, she had rained her little heart out, leaving Hemel’s pitch waterlogged and Mr TLF gutted that his free day at home was now being invaded by a bored TLF.

To be honest a small part of me was relieved. To be precise the digestive system part of me was relieved. It seems that the Easter Egg and Stella diet adopted on Easter Sunday is not to be recommended and my system was breathing a sigh of relief (or it might have been wind) that a day free of bacon, sausage and fried egg with a side order of lager was now off the menu. The rest of me was feeling a a bit miffed, a bit football-lite. I had forgone the Satday fixture (which the Mighty Saints won 3-1 – good spot TLF!) precisely so I could go to Hemel and had managed to sleep through Jamie Vardy’s first goal for Ingurland. Still there was always football with next door’s dog….

All set for kick off

All set for kick off



Match abandoned

Match abandoned

Or not.

Match abandoned Fox

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The worry bunny

Spring, a time of new beginnings. As the axis of the earth increases its tilt relative to the sun (Prof TLF), daylight lengthens, temperatures rise and fresh buds bloom. The season of rebirth brings us chocolate eggs, bunnies and lambykins gambolling (responsibly) across the fields.

More importantly it also brings us the last 7-9 games of the season which are often accompanied by that highly infectious and brutal disease; Hope. Regular readers will remember that TLF had to do battle with a particularly nasty bout last year; after a miserable March (and February, and not too clever January and Decembers to be honest) Lesta City’s performances went up several notches and before you knew it people were being optimistic and stuff. This doesn’t sit well with TLF. I prefer a good dollop of mashed despair served with a pessimism jus. And then if it does finally work out then marvellous, crack open the bubbly but when it doesn’t (and in my experience it usually doesn’t) then you haven’t wasted your time on jollity and wotnot.

This year the medical threat is greater than ever with a potential epidemic of DH (double hope) threatening to descend on TLF Towers.

Lesta City, Cinderella-story-you-couldn’t-have-made-it-up-pundit-defyingBLAHBLAH are, at Easter atop the Premier League. People are hoping they might win it. The Mighty Saints after a wretched spell have found some form under new gaffer Ian Allinson, with four wins in the last five games. There is hope that we might just avoid relegation.
HA!!!!!! See how easily it sucks you in; pernicious and malignant it sneaks up on you, sounds all convincing and before you know it…BOSH! You start being all optimistic. Well not me suckers and this year TLF has a new weapon in the armoury. Oh yes. Like those adverts where Listerine holds back decay and wotnot from your teeth and Vicks makes you breathe more easily, I give you, laydeez and gents…

Not only does it have more letters but like a combined mouthwash and decongestant for the emotions it shields you against optimism, protects against hope and keeps you clear of belief. It came to me after the Newcastle game when us amateur punters were talking through Lesta’s next few fixtures

“I’m worried about Palace. We never win there,” said Tim.
“I’m worried about West Ham. They are on a roll,” quoth TLF.
“I’m worried about Sunderland away. They will be desperate,” said Simon.
“I’m just worried,” said the wise old man in the next row.

And he’s right.
• I’m worried that any minute now the pigs will stop flying, the weather forecast for hell will not suggest a frost and all this jollity will end as Lesta freefall their way out of the Top Four (and who thought I would ever type that?).
• I’m worried that if I pace round the kitchen for most of Satday afternoon again like I did last week Mr TLF might just throw something at me.
• I’m not celebrating the international call up of so many of Lesta’s players. I’m too worried about injuries on international duty derailing the starting 11.
• I’m worried that all the teams near the Mighty Saints will win their games in hand.
• I’m worried that by Easter Monday Hemel will still be in contention for the play-offs and have everything still to play for.
• I’m worried that meeting at 9am in the pub before that game could lead to a very messy Bank Holiday Monday.

If you cruise around the interweb you will find website after website devoted to positivity and a whole host of quotes advising against worrying. Ghandi, Churchill, Shakespeare, Seneca and Abe Lincoln, to name but a few; they all get in on the act.
Clever folk? Absolutely.
Football fans? Absolutely not.

RWF (Resolutely Worried Fox)

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Dr Foxtus

It is March. Mr TLF’s birthday is looming. So football is eschewed (BOOM!) for a trip to Shakespeare land and that other Theatre of Dreams, the RSC…all about being a selfless TLF and NOTHING to do with Lesta’s game being moved to a Monday night, the Mighty Saints being away from home…and quite wanting to see the play myself.

In the fixture that is Doctor Faustus, there is no toss of a coin to choose ends. Instead the two lead actors face each other and each strike a match; whoever’s match burns longest plays Mephistophilis; while the ‘loser’ takes on Faustus for that performance. Clever. Theatrical. Looks good. But perhaps impractical for a windy Satday afternoon in Clarence Park.

You know how it goes. One Dr Faustus, a brilliant but bitter scholar is fed up of traditional learning and all that the normal world order has to offer him. He turns towards magic and not of the Paul Daniels (RIP) type either. Summoning Mephistophilis (who he likes…not a lot) he strikes a deal with Lucifer; 24 years of absolute knowledge and infinite power, with Mephistophilis as his servant, in exchange for his soul. No amount of advice from good angels can get through to the Doctor that this is a BAD IDEA. Even Mephistophilis tries to dissuade him with a quick intro to everyone’s favourite house guests, the seven deadly sins, but to no avail.

Dr F doesn’t exactly make the best of his 24 years, it’s all a bit unfulfilling and the stress of his ultimate destination starts to play on his mind. Finally he realises a bit late that he has given up his soul for no good reason.

The performance is smart, breathtaking and hugely entertaining. A kind of gory variety show. But very far-fetched of course…unless…I do start to wonder if maybe I have entered into some Faustian footballing pact without noticing? Has Dr (TL)F, bored with the usual pre-ordained order of the Premier League and the fear of relegation for the Mighty Saints sold her soul for some new football enlightenment?

I have after all experienced the footballing seven deadly sins on many an occasion:
• Every wrong-headed stupid decision made against MY team
• Players trying to get opponents booked
• BFFZs (bacon fry free zones)
• Football shirts with WONGA on them
• Hemel
• Over-priced away tickets, particularly in a league with the biggest TV deal EVER about to fall into its gluttoness pockets
• Robbie Savage

Let’s face it, Lesta’s season is magic and thoughts of a Mighty Saints Great Escape is one you couldn’t have conjured (BOOMBOOM!) up a few weeks ago.

And it is all a bit stressful. As Memphi-wotsit says himself, when asked how he is out of Hell and instead on earth:
“Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think’st thou that I, who saw the face of Ranieri
And tasted the eternal joys of great escapes and top of the leagues,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being possibly deprived of everlasting footballing bliss?”

But of course! It’s not just me.

Every single one of us daft enough to put our faith in the performance of 11 men on a pitch has sold our souls. Not to Lucifer but to our Cities, our Uniteds, our Rovers, our Rangers, our Academicals…whoever it might be.

And unlike Dr Faustus, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Marlowe Foxe

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