Forget the Beautiful Game

July 25, 2011

Written by dandan

Winning they say is everything, forget the beautiful game it counts for nothing if you don’t win something.

I was pondering this when watching a TV documentary on Murray Walker this week, a man whom I was lucky enough to meet as he, our respective wives and I cruised en-route to Australia. He was on board to give some lectures on his life in and out of motor sports.

Great as these lectures were, it was the conversation that took place when they asked to join our table for breakfast that impressed me most. What you see on TV is what you get with Murray: enthusiasm personified, an unbelievably knowledgeable raconteur of class who is also ready to listen.

At 87 he is 20 years older than I, yet made me feel that I was the old man, a class act I feel privileged to have met.

What has this to do with wining you ask? Not a lot except we spoke of Stirling Moss – a man so entrenched in British folk-lore that, even today, if stopped by the police for speeding you are likely to be asked, who do you think you are Stirling Moss?

Interesting is it not, when you realise that though he never won a world championship, he drove with such skill and bravado whilst winning 16 grand prix, but never the big one, that it didn’t matter. You don’t tend to get asked are you a Hawthorn, Surtees, Stewart, Hunt ,Mansell Or Hill : All great  british drivers and world champions in days gone by, No it is the brave , seemingly indestructible yet cavalier nearly man (he was second twice) whose name has entered the language of the nation.

Now our team is like that.  It wins games and hearts with style and panache, indeed  all but the biggest prize the Champions League, has been collected along the way, whilst setting domestic records over the Arsene Wenger years, including in the case of the invincibles, an  astonishing entire season undefeated. So much so, that the very word Wengerball has also now entered the language, as a description of all that is , stylish, skillful,  and entertaining, only the physicality of the English game precludes  us from the accolade of total football bestowed on Cruyff’s legendary Dutchmen, but it is the nearest to  the beautiful game this country has ever seen.

We may not have won a trophy for six years, but in years to come, even should we not win another one, unlikely as that may be, Wengerball will still be ingrained in our living language, like Stirling Moss, to be used to describe excellence in our sport. When only the dried ink in books of statistics will recall the extravagantly purchased successes of Chelsea and City.

Winning is of course great and to be strived for at all times, although the manner in which success is achieved  bring’s recognition, pride and respect and the traditions they engender live  far longer in the collective memory, of a football nation

A new season approaches, our team evolves,  let’s hope our style and skills continue to grow and our manager’s quiet revolution continues to spread, to the discomfort of the long ball bully boys, both financial and actual, we all know so well. As we add another trophy or two to our already well filled cabine.