A disgrace we can attack
By Larry Ryan
We’re set, you feel, for a long, not-so-hot summer of Fundamental Wrongness.
It comes with the territory in this era of Absolute Disgrace, or to give it its full, early afternoon title; Absolute Disgrace, Joe.
There will be many Absolute Disgraces to come, most of which will be perpetrated by politicians, bureaucrats, bankers, judges, ticket price setters, hotel owners, door-to-door salesmen, insurance companies, provocative lyricists, mobile phone operators and other rogues.
Article writers, worryingly, will bring about their fair share.
While other disgraces will simply be attributed to The System, which should come as no surprise because it has always been an Absolute Disgrace.
Several Absolute Disgraces will, undoubtedly, be of a sporting variety and not all will be confined to the Ulster football championship. The Olympics, you have an awful feeling, could wind up as one big Absolute Disgrace, especially if Katie doesn’t take the bare look off things.
And that’s when the search for Fundamental Wrongness will kick off in earnest.
But we’ve already made a strong start this week, after Group C sat on top of us and squashed the Absolute Disgrace of our Euro 2012 performance into the cold ignominy of nul points.
What is fundamentally wrong with Irish football? With ourselves? Oddly enough, despite their extensive back catalogue in this area, our heroes in Montrose have not, on this occasion, led the search for Fundamental Wrongness. Ordinarily, after a disgrace this absolute, we would, by now, have learned from The Panel of the debilitating twoleftfootedness inflicted on the nation’s youth by exposure to Playstations, personal stereos and traffic.
We haven’t heard much yet from Brian Kerr either, who is on record as linking the tendency of the modern footballer to fall on his arse with a decline in tree-climbing, a theory definitely worth exploring with the park rangers of Sean St Ledger’s native Birmingham.
But despite Brian and The Panel’s unusual laxity on this occasion, suggestions of Fundamental Wrongness have piled high without their input. So let’s make some effort to summarise what we have so far.
A plain, insurmountable lack of numbers. Too much competitive football for schoolboys. An obsession with winning young — leading to big boys huffing and puffing and the little guy fulminating on the sideline wishing he had recourse to his Playstation or personal stereo.
A League of Ireland mired in indifference. The state of our fields and their inconduciveness to tiki-taka. Youngsters sidetracked by the more direct requirements of Gaelic games. Then there’s our preoccupation with drink.
Let’s not even start on the singing. But there is also the proximity of our great oppressor to think about, who continues to foil us by snatching up our youngsters in the middle of the night so it can teach them bad habits, leaving only a fat cheque where there was once promise.
Then, finally, there’s Trap, who sold us an illusion.
Why do we always do it to ourselves? Dig so deep for solutions and reasons that the light soon looks a distant memory. After all, at a time when every youth from Antrim to Addis Ababa is dreaming of a slice of the Premier League glamour — and its cheques — we have more players operating in the top division of English football than ever before.
We might be awaiting another Giles, Brady or Keane, but we’ve never had so many competent strikers. And we’ve never gone to a tournament with so many good footballers left at home.
But could this readiness to accept there is something fundamentally wrong with us have made it that bit easier for Trap to impose on us his limited view of what we can become? There were few loud dissenting voices. We were, after all, ready to settle for Billy Davies or Paul Jewell when Giovanni came among us. Were we worthy? A measure of awe made it logical to shut up and listen.
In the end, Trap’s limited vision for us proved painfully inadequate. If the British Olympic team’s motto is Better Never Stops, ours might have been Better Never Changes or Worse Could Happen.
But now that we have been down the cul de sac that route was always headed, let’s not get so down on ourselves that we forget to demand changes, believe we’re capable of more. That would be an Absolute Disgrace. Home