Last week during the Spurs cup tie I imagine you and I were doing much the same thing: sitting on the edge of your seat, watching the game, easing the tension with the occasional wine gum and passing the listless first half with questions of global importance such as ‘why are they called wine gums?’ Am I right? I thought so, but where you and I probably differed is whereas you were asking wine gum questions, I was experiencing a revelation.
It seemed that every time I ate a yellow wine gum, something bad would happen on the pitch; any other colour however, and we’d be fine. I put it to the test: a Petr Cech goal kick, orange wine gum in the mouth, chested down by Shevchenko and passed back to Lampard, nice and tidy. On the next goal kick in went the yellow wine gum… the ball went straight out. I don’t know if you remember that instant, in the second half when Cech kicked it straight out, there’s no reason why you should after all, but then you weren’t to know that the mistake was due to someone, on the other side of the world, popping a yellow wine gum into their mouth.
But now you do.
I hate to break it to you, but in case you hadn’t noticed there are greater forces at play in the world of football than the simple deeds that take place on the pitch. And I don’t want to get involved with discussions about karma or divine intervention either, anyone who has witnessed Christiano Ronaldo’s despicably good performances this season knows the world of sport shirks any notions of fairness.
Sport flies in the face of concepts as humanly flawed as justice and instead seems to obey some crazy, unexplained association with tiny random events the world over. Example? Okay, my mother still blames my sister for Ivan Lendl losing to Pat Cash in 1987 because she walked into the kitchen at an inopportune moment. And the truth is, for all we know, she may be right.
I chewed a black wine gum and saw Shevchenko slam in a beauty from the edge of the box, over the top of Drogalog’s head, who stood there a little while taking it in. It just may be that Sheva’s finding form in the nick of time… And Drog need not be concerned.
If we win the Champions League I’ll wager that he gets European player of the year.
But wait! I shouldn’t say such things, what if I jinx us? Well, no, don’t worry, the yellow wine gums are still in the bottom of the bag and as I said, I had a revelation. I think I understand who’s in charge up there, keeping their ancient eyes on the world of sport.
In the past, the ancient past, the world was under the rule of powerful, vengeful gods of Rome and Greece. Then all of a sudden, monotheism came along and these guys were out of a job. Clearly, when god with a capital G took over he preferred a management reshuffle to a total clean out and the Romans were shifted to carry on their petty squabbles and mindless vendettas amongst the world of sport. More specifically: Venus was made goddess of lacrosse, obviously; Neptune was given beach volleyball and, surprisingly, kabadi; and naturally Jupiter being the king of the gods bearing lightning and thunder was given cricket.
Which brings us curiously onto football. Which god was worthy of the beautiful game? In a word, Mars. Mars was the god of war, of conflict between tribes, of international one-upmanship. He was also the father of Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome, which may go some way to explaining the four World Cup trophies Italy have notched up despite their most worthy accomplishment being as ringside spectators to Carlos Alberto’s 1970’s goal. And if you look closely you can see Mars has even sent down his own favourite players bearing his name: Maradona, Marco Van Basten and obviously Sparky Mark Hughes.
So when you consider who’s running the show up there, and how eager they are for ritual and superstition, it isn’t any surprise that eating an inappropriate wine gum can mean the difference between glory and despair.
But then I found myself in a pickle. I had finished all but the yellow wine gums but was still hungry for more… I put it to the test one last time and immediately Spurs pulled one back.
Don’t worry, the bag was binned and the match won, I didn’t like yellow wine gums that much anyway. Oh and I’ve since googled why they’re called wine gums and the answer is so boring I’m not going to bother repeating it in these pages.