Friday 18 November 2011

A Charlton fable, part 1

Earlier this week I went to a major conference where one of the events was the reading of a fairy story (nicely illustrated copies were available to take away).   There was also folk singing and for a moment I thought that I had entered a time warp and was back in the late 1960s. 

However, with apologies to J B Priestley's Angel Pavement, I thought I would have a go at writing my own story with a moral.   So if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin.

From his penthouse sute, Blazimir Argonov stared moodily down the Thames.   Hardly anyone in London had heard of his oil and mineral rich Central Asian home country of Burkistan, but once he started to spend his billions, they soon would and then they would stop making bad jokes about its name.

He turned to his aide, Alimir Burpov: 'So you are telling me that most of the wealth in London is north of the river and that is where the top football clubs are?'

'Indeed, Supreme One,' replied Burpov.  'Just down the road is the Chelsea club owned by the one whose name we do not mention.'

Argonov spat expressively at the expensive carpet at the mention of the name of his Russian rival.

'Then in Islington we have the team of the military, Arsenal.    These days it is owned by a rich American and an Uzbek ....'

Argonov threw a gold model of an oil derrick at the wall at the mention of Uzbekistan and let out a stream of unfathomable and unrepeatable oaths.

'Then there is the Hotspur club in Tottenham, but they already have a wealthy owner.'

'So who is left in the Premiership?'

'Well there is Queen's Park Rangers ...'

'The Queen will never sell her club.   I cannot even get an invitation to the Palace.   And I offered some prince or duke several million dollars.   Any other clubs?'

'Well, there is Full Ham and also West Ham may get promoted again.'

An angry glare flashed across Argonov's face: 'I will never have anything to do with clubs associated with pork.  It gives people the wrong idea altogether as if I buy success.  Anyway fancy having clubs named after a joint and side of ham next to each other.'

'Then there is only the south of the river.  No Premiership clubs there.'

Argonov looked vaguely in the direction of Battersea.   'Perhaps we could buy a lower division club and get them promoted.   Give me the names.'

'Well, there is Millwall, they could be quite useful if we wanted some muscle.'

'I am trying to clean up my image.   And I only hire elite bodyguards, you should know that.'

'Then there is Crystal Palace.'

Argonov's face brightened.   'Why didn't you mention them before?   What a name!   I love crystal and I build palaces.'

'But the area is not very glamorous.   And part of the ground is a supermarket.'

'No problem.   We can move the club and build them a new stadium.   What about the seaside?   I like Brighton.   We could move them there and call them Crystal Palace Regents.'

'Brighton has a new stadium.   And the two groups of fans hate each other.'

'What about this place with the new art gallery where the Queen went.    Sheepgate or Marsgate or something.'

'It's on the Isle of Thanet.   We might as well build a stadium on the Isle of Sheppey.   Crystal Palace would not be a good buy.'

'So what is left?'

'Charlton Athletic.'

To be continued.

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