Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Saturday December 9 2006
I am sure many of you, like myself, have received e mails this week circulating false roubles. At the last few away matches I have also been covertly offered the inflatable mobile phones of which I am sure you are all aware. I have made my stance towards Cole very clear in several articles. Ashley Cole is the absolute paradigm of all that is wrong with the modern footballer, self absorbed, egotistical but lacking the cranial capacity to utilise his gifts. Cole is as talented as he is stupid, a fantastic footballer, but intellectually you would have to clone him six or seven times before you could construct a half wit.
Cole is not only the antithesis of the model professional. He is also a glaring example of the malleable sportsman, shaped and moulded by the clawed fingers of Lucifer's spawn- the football agent. Johnathan Barnett saw in Ashley Cole the rarest of commodities. A product oozing talent, dripping with greasy bling but ultimately, as dumb as a post. The pop star marriage, the the tapping up saga (when Mourinho was watching Adriano, remember?), the 'fed me to the sharks' gem in his autobiography all elucidate his appalling venality. His autobiography was generally received by the public with complete indifference, it is currently being outsold by 'We All Live In A Perry Groves World.' A paltry 4,000 copies have been sold, there are spotty teenage boys working Saturday jobs in Waterstones who can claim to have sold more books than Mr. Cole.
While Cole sold few copies of his autobiography, he still received the consternation of journalists poisoned pens. The two comments that I love the most originate from the most diametrically opposed sources one could imagine. Firstly, the great Perry Groves, 'My book is about a guy who realises how lucky he was to play for Arsenal. His book is about how he thought Arsenal should feel lucky to have him.' But the most appalled observer was ex Tory laughing stock and Chelsea fan David Mellor, who called Cole, 'a greedy little creep and a self indulgent tosspot.' One journalist oppined that Cole's autobiography was the least well received memoir since Mein Kampf. All too true. Cole's egress from Arsenal has earned him vitriol the likes of which I have never seen from Gooners.
But when the deal was struck, I remember a pervading feeling of delight. Cole had gone, and with backs against the wall Dein and Wenger struck a deal that bought William Gallas to Arsenal! One of the world's premier centre backs had arrived, manager and vice chairman had made the absolute best out of a bum situation (a trick they were to repeat on the same day, swapping the beast for the whingeing Reyes). A tumour had been removed, we'd gained a Willy and lost a ****. Yet it seems my fellow Gooners did not share my joy. Rather than revel in the arrival of Gallas (a purchase which clearly hurt Mourinho's pride), Arsenal fans chose to relentlessly mock Cole. I can well understand this feeling of hatred towards Cole, but in honesty I had expended my spleen towards Cole when he illicitly met with the Lotto Chavs in the first place. It was my strongly held view that he should never have represented Arsenal again and in silent protest I refused to sing his name thereafter. (Though I did not boo or abuse him). By allowing him to represent Arsenal again, we gave him free reign to dump on our doorstep. His actions this summer therefore came as no surprise to me and I just wanted rid of him as swiftly as possible. It's never been my persuasion to acknowledge ****, I'd rather flush it.
As a result of his actions, my dislike evaporated into indifference, the great George Bernard Shaw said, 'The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them but to be indifferent to them.' A view I fully subscribe to. So why should I waste precious oxygen inflating a mobile phone? Or waste sections of rainforest by littering false roubles at him? Why should I empower him and allow his warped ego to endorse his behaviour further? Don't get me wrong, I am no fantasist, I would not dream that he is not going to be booed or be the target of derogatory songs, I would not waste my time pleading for people not to do this. As Jens said, this is part of what makes football interesting. We football fans are odd creatures, turning players from deifications to satan incarnates at will. Nor is it my intention to denounce the fun in football and that of being a supporter. The statement on the club website is an embarassing indictment of the chasm between supporter and club. The squad criticising supporters, but then not acknowledging their efforts home or away is fine. Banning supporters for giving tickets to mates at face value is fine. The club have the correct intentions, but lack the legitimacy to print this statement. I will tell you the truth, I have a spare seat for an upcoming away game which I was thinking of advertising in the forum, but I am afraid to do so lest the club see this and remove my memberships, so that seat next to me will stay empty. Fear and trepidation is no way to relate to supporters.
But my main concern is that tomorrow's match will turn into a ninety minute barrage of abuse towards Cole. The odd song and a chorus of booing is not a problem. But I have seen Cole as a target of sustained abuse when he was in an Arsenal shirt, and he always raised his game. For an example of how counter productive hatred can be, peer periodically into the world of music. Punk and hip hop are two of the most powerful genres to have ever existed. I number myself as a fan of both, but while the fanbase kept them going, it was the hatred of the media and the public which galvanised them and made them powerful. I don't want Cole to feel that power tomorrow, when he looks over at a sea of mobile phones and gay jokes, he will more than likely replenish any doubt he had about his treatment of Arsene Wenger, the man who gave him his career. To this end it is particularly unfortunate (for more reason than one) that William Gallas will not be playing, is this may have deflected our ire somewhat. Terrace wit is one of the most attractive things about going to see live football, but hatred is not a flattering quality. So you'll have to forgive me if I don't massage his ego by furnishing myslef with props. In short, if you are going as well tomorrow, keep it classy, boo if you want to, you are entitled, but please let's not make an already inflated ego the centre of attention. LD.
Date:Saturday December 9 2006
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