Date: 8th June 2020
The latest blog from Donald Stewart:
It’s an open meeting down at the FA and newcomers are welcome. A new guy has come in with his sponsor and asked to sit in amongst the rest of the FA.
That’s Fitba’ Anonymous for the uninitiated.
Picture the scene…
It’s midday in Govan. Kicked out the Town Hall for being a little too rowdy, they are now in the Pastor Jack Glasshouse near to the river with a huge number of posters around the hallway and the all over the entrance warning users not to “throw stones”. Unfortunately, nobody heeds them.
Andy sits on a plastic chair whilst Chris goes and gets the coffee. Today doing the top table is Richard who is a stalwart of the FA. He is one of the old timers who likes nothing more than the sound of his Aberdonian cultured burr wafting round the room.
“Can we all find seats?” he murmurs, as if prompted, into everyone’s ears as they begin to sit round in one circle. Democratic it was called with no obvious leaders. It was designed to allow for some semblance of order in amongst the fitba fraternity; a fraternity mind. They did allow women in, but apparently, they tended to want to organise the coffee cups and try and introduce doilies, according to one of the Yorkshire founders of the FA, Geoffrey. Geoffrey is long gone, having been kicked out when they found out he had nothing to do with Fitba’ and was an imposter. They wanted to censure him and do bad things to him but he was clever enough to establish each group as autonomous so they decided to just boycott Geoffrey so he founded a new group in Coventry instead where they allow all sports to come and moan; they didn’t like him anyway.
Andy is nervous as Chris sits beside him with a Styrofoam cup of hot steaming coffee. It tastes like all hot steaming coffee out of a Styrofoam cup; instant.
Gordon starts the meeting and Andy finds himself drifting in and out of what is being said. He realises that he should be paying attention but what brought him here, what had seen him in and out of contention for reasons and seasons was only known to himself.
Starting with his highland adventure, his career had taken off when he signed for “That Man” as he was known in Govan, down south. This had happened after he had played for a team known by most as just a wandering Lothian Franchise.
His mind wandered further afield as he found himself reflecting on “That moment” in his career with “That Goal” against “That Chelsea” wafting through his mind as he realises that “The Gordon” was looking directly at him and expecting an answer.
Sponsor Chris, nudges him and smiles like he wants Andy to say something so Andy decides he has to… say something that is…
“We could still have caught them…” he says.
Instantly there is a murmur of assent, nods round the room and knowing smiles but it’s an affliction, as Gordon suddenly realises that he is in danger of losing the meeting. People are in recovery for God’s sake and this nonsense needs to be stopped. He looks sternly at Chris expecting Chris to say something that will put a stop to all of this nonsense.
Chris smiles weakly and then says, “I love Andy.”
Gordon surveys the scene and there are more nods and more murmurs and people are beginning to have wee conversations to the side with the beginning of madness sweeping across the room.
THIS HAS TO BE STOPPED!
“Andy,” Begins Gordon, “Perhaps you can tell us how you got to that conclusion?”
“Well,” responds Andy, taking a big deep breath because his old teacher said he should before making big speeches. “We have won two titles at the end of two seasons.”
There is a general clamour of accord. People are now not nodding meekly but there is a new boldness as the people in the room have realised that Andy is unafraid to shout out what they truly feel. Andy is fast becoming their hero. Gordon realises his position at “The Auld Timer” is under threat. He looks at sponsor Chris for some help.
Chris tries to help and says, “I love Andy.”
Gordon mistakenly thinks that logic needs deployed to stop this escalating and he decides to try.
“So, Andy, to win at the end of the season takes a desire, nay an ability, some might even call it, winning to get there and that was not something you guys were doing? At least not since the end of the winter break”
A hush descends. People turn to Andy hopeful that he will now be able to win an argument for once in his life. Hope springs as they say… he begins slowly, building as he goes…
“I mean… We once were seven points clear going into a title race and ending up losing the title so it was never a never say never scenario. They were the favourites but as players we’re always going to think we can claw it back taking it a game at a time and try beat them. Going into two games against them being must wins but obviously it got taken out of anyone’s hands by the SPFL making the decision for everyone so it’s all guns blazing for us going into next year now.”
The murmurs accompanying Andy’s words that just tumbled out began to grow into a crescendo and by the end of Andy’s rapid words, Andy had risen up and was standing.
Now amongst these people for they are THE people, the faithful, they too had taken a stand, against fashion, against sense, against reason. A chant was in danger of being raised and now people were looking at their new champion, their new messiah, their new guru…
And Gordon was having hee haw of it…
“Right you lot…” His voice now raised as everyone fell silent. They all turn to Gordon. He is now scowling at Chris. Chris has a twinkle in his eye as he repeats, “I love Andy.”
Only Gordon in the room understands the irony and the message. The rest are oblivious as Chris was once a star for “The Other Side” and knows that the continuation of such nonsense will perpetuate the lack of reasonable challenge for ever and ever and ever.
Chris stands and turns away from Andy. Andy looks at him and thinks that now he does not need a sponsor. He has the possibility of leaving this place a hero which he will take as he is off to the MLS to play in “The Soccer” over there. Or so he thinks.
The murmuring of “We love Andy too” has started and it gathers pace round the meeting as Gordon realises that any civilised debate shall be worthless. He picks up the Yellow Card, bins the Blue one and starts to leave.
Andy, now being held shoulder high by the crowd can only imagine what it might have felt like winning a title for now he may never manage it.
“Sweet,” he thinks. “FA love me.”
Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an almost original tale, any similarities to persons real or imagined are deliberate. However as none of the aforementioned characters a Chris, an Andy or a Gordon have ever, as far as he is aware, been to a meeting of Fitba Anonymous, this is clearly fictional and never actual happened, though some of the words that appear have been attributed to one of their respective speakers.
The fact is that during the week Andy Halliday, formerly of Rangers, was interviewed and said, “There were still two Old Firm games to go, I’m not going to sit here and lie, Celtic were the favourites to go on and win the title. But Rangers have won two league titles on the last day of the season – when Celtic could have beat Motherwell. Rangers have been seven points clear going into a title race and ending up losing the title so it was a never say never scenario. Celtic were the favourites but as players we’re always going to think we can claw it back taking it a game at a time and try beat them. Going into two Old Firm games, both of them being must-wins but obviously it got taken out of anyone’s hands by the SPFL making the decision for everyone so it’s all guns blazing for Rangers going into next year now.” Chris Sutton tweeted in response, I love Andy. (I don’t think he does.)
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