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.
GO STRAIGHT TO HELL.
DO NOT PASS GO.
DO NOT COLLECT £200.
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
• 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.