The Far Side A-Z of Being Bitter and Twisted

Nick Hancock is one of the chief beneficiaries of the renaissance in football which has seen it become ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ or any of those words which it is neither cool nor hip to use any more. His form of laddish humour would never survive a world where it was once considered de rigeur at posh dinner parties to boast that “I’ve never been to Liverpool!” – just imagine William Hague hee-hawing at the Tory party conference and you’ll know what kind of mentality I’m referring to. Unless of course you believe that he would regularly knock back fourteen pints, in which case you deserve to spend an evening with Wee Willie in the phone box of your choice.

But back to Nick Hancock. He may be a merely sporadically amusing comic, who firmly trusts the inherent humorous splendour of the word “arse” (chortle), but he did coin one particularly apposite observation on the nature of football fandom. “Football,” he noted, “is not like religion. It is religion, and you don’t see the Pope saying he has a soft spot for Islamic fundamentalism.”

Not everyone may agree, but I certainly do. In fact, whenever I read this I remind myself that I hate Stoke City as well. Who the hell do they think they are anyway, constantly harping back to the days of Gordon Banks and Stanley Matthews like the toothless flat capped old men that they are not because none of them have ever done a days hard work, the lily-livered pansies, and their arch rivals are Port Vale, I mean come on, Port flippin’ Vale, don’t get me started on Port Vale, they scored a couple of goals against us at Anfield in the times of ancient Babylon and they think they’re better than us, God I think I’m going to be sick…

You see? I hate EVERYBODY. Every football club in England from Arsenal (chortle) right through to York City make me want to puke. None of them are Liverpool so how can they be anything other than reprehensible? Now, I’m sure some smart-arse (chortle) out there is thinking “ah-ha, but don’t you hate the Mancs more than anyone else, therefore you must prefer some clubs to them, therefore you must like some clubs? QED.” Which is a load of arse (ch – yeah, we heard you the first time, get on with it! – James/Chris Mc). I hate them all; only the degree of hate differs. If I think too hard about any particular team then a veritable Vesuvius of rage passes through my body. And I think about it a lot.

Not everyone has as much time to ponder such weighty issues as I do. Some of you might have a proper job, or might be studying theology, or you might even have a life. Therefore I have decided to compile this handy list of reasons to hate eighteen* Premiership teams. Print it out and keep it on your person at all times. If you ever find yourself at a dinner party and there is no loo roll in the jacks, you know what to do. Alternatively, if someone professes to having a soft spot for Sunderland, you will be able to enlighten that misguided person as to why Sunderland are actually the footballing equivalent of a Milk of Magnesia and prune cocktail.

Arsenal: ohmigod, how can any of us forget that coronary-inducing night in 1989 when those creeps stole the title from right under our very noses? But that is not why I hate Arsenal. It was actually two years later though that they brought the bile to the tip of my tongue. The amount of poxy draws they scabbed that year to win the title beggared belief. We kicked the living crap out of them at Anfield and they still won 1-0. And all this tosh about marble halls and busts in the lobby of Highbury. Only disguises the fact that Higbury is a trumped-up Subbuteo stadium.

Aston Villa: what a bunch of pretentious wastrels. No team in the history of sport has ever had thoughts above its station bigger than Villa. For years they have thought they could win the title and it’s only now that players like Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu have twigged that Villa would struggle to beat the likes of Total Network Solutions or Inter Cardiff for the League of Wales. Villa Park is also a retirement home for Anfield rejects whom the media tell us to sell (e.g. Steve Staunton, David James, Dean Saunders) who then become “successes” in Birmingham. Oh, and they play in Birmingham.

Bradford City: while Allah may be calling the natives of Bradford to prayer, He sure as hell doesn’t call them to Valley Parade. Geoffrey Richardson claimed that if Bradford had an Asian player they would get 100,000 people at their games. What rubbish! This is also the man who effectively sacked their best ever manager, so what does he know? And the sheer lack of gratitude they displayed when we sacrificed our Champions League place so that Wimbledon could be relegated in their place…

Charlton Athletic: is Alan Curbishley the biggest whinger in football? His side lost six games on the bounce when they were last in the top flight, and why was this? Certainly not because they were useless. No, it was all down to luck. Getting a poxy deflected equaliser at Anfield was bad luck. Having the ref in their pocket at the Valley was bad luck. Take your pathetic small club moaning back to the Nationwide where it belongs.

Chelsea: like the French Foreign Legion, Chelsea are a bunch of thugs dedicated to the maintenance of an evil empire. Perhaps the Chelsea Pensioners might be a more appropriate moniker as Spanish and Italian clubs offload their zimmer-frame dependent has-beens to Stamford Bridge. Like Villa, they have notions way above their station, but they have an even worse chairman in Ken Bates, who is nasty, vulgar and stupid. And those are his best features.

Coventry City: jinx! Not many people remember this, but when we played Coventry at Anfield in 1997, a win would have put us top of the table with only seven games to go. Instead, they came from 1-0 down to beat us in the last minute, three points which kept their worthless hides in the top division to curse us for another few years. Dave Cottrell described them as “the bland that time forgot…the unused bottle of Lea & Perrins in the back of the cupboard.” Can’t say fairer than that.

Derby County: those gets had the temerity to beat us twice at Anfield two years ago. And they were another team to pilfer the league from right under our noses – 1972, if you must know. They deserve their plastic, soulless tribute to new football grounds. Don’t forget how we somehow managed to luckily beat them 2-0 twice least year. Should have been 2-0 the other way on each occasion according to Jim Smith.

Everton: don’t get me started, DON’T GET ME STARTED!!! It was Everton who spawned this whole I-hate-everybody thing, because they emphasised that those clubs of whom you are most fond are the ones most likely to betray you. I did have a soft spot for them in the days when they knew their place, i.e. second best in England, second best in Liverpool, but then Joe Royle came and their whole season began to revolve around the derbies. We finish fourth, they finish fourth last but they had the better season because “The Dogs of War” (!) had the upper hand on us. I was sitting with Bill, of Bill’s Gates fame, and a few friends in a hotel in Liverpool in August ’98, when a native Red approached us and offered us the completely unsolicited information that he hated Everton for exactly that reason. The friendliness of the derbies is gone. And they killed it.

Ipswich Town: Ipswich flirted with being good under John Lyall when they were last in the Premiership. This led to all kinds of idiotic comments from some people, the best of which was one radio fan who labelled Chris Kiwomya the best striker in the league. The respect given to this kind of guff is in marked contrast to the reception accorded to Robbie Fowler’s infrequent international appearances. With trash like Ipswich Town knocking around, players like Robbie Fowler haven’t a hope.

Leeds United: David O’Leary. We’re still learning, the experts know more than I do, my lads are only babies, and so on. The thing is, David, – can I call you David? – that you are a gobshite, your ‘babies’ are racist muggers and your fans perpetuate the most loathsome song in sport. Now there’s real bitterness for you!

Leicester City: like Coventry, they have the Indian sign on us. Unlike Coventry, no one has seen through this shower of talentless hatchetmen. They’re still such a wonderful success story and we should love them and they are a credit to the human race…which is a steaming pile of BS. The fact that some bloke from their supporters club felt it appropriate to sneer at Martin O’Neill for leaving Leicester for a smaller club – Celtic! – should tell us something about this arrogant powder-puff of a club.

Manchester City: what the hell are this lot doing back in the big time? I’ll tell you what for. To provide six guaranteed points a season for the Mancs, that’s what. One of the more interesting sights this season will be City running up the white flag at the first sight of the Big Top of Delusions. And don’t forget Joe Royle (see also: Everton).

Middlesbrough: Two words: Bryan Robson. Say no more.

Newcastle United: my disgust for Newcastle United began around the time of the first 4-3 classic at Anfield. Here was us, performing more miracles than Jesus on his birthday, and all Sky could be bothered showing was crowds of blubbering Geordies! These are the same Geordies who ripped Newcastle city centre apart after the title slipped away from them that season. About as loveable as the IRA.

Southampton: remember that debacle back in ’94 when we were 4-0 down at The Dell, the world’s largest cardboard box? Mike Channon was in the studio crowing over how brilliant Southampton were and how crap we were. How dare he! I watched Phil Thompson slowly get angrier and was waiting for him to start whipping out European Cup medals or even the European Cup itself. The Saints are another one of those teams that have been survived so long in the top flight that they think they belong there. Trust me, when they get relegated we won’t see them ever again. Fingers crossed.

Sunderland: this club really get on my wick because sooo many of my Red peers seem to have a “soft spot” (gagh!) for them. Why? What have they ever done to deserve this superlative accolade? This is the club that named their ground after that of Benfica, the club of Eusebio. Sunderland’s most famous player is Brian Clough.

Tottenham Hotspur: the media not all closet Spurs fans, because none of them are in the bloody closet. At the time of writing Spurs have seven points from 12. Well, with form like that the championship is a mere formality. Expect Brian Glanville to die at my hands in the near future.

West Ham United: “awight guv’nor, apples and pears, feed the birds, tuppence a bag, strike a light, Gordon Bennett!” Hitler certainly had the right idea when he poured thousands of tonnes of explosives on the place. What a great tradition this club has though. A tradition of bouncing up and down more times than Zebedee and producing supposedly great players who win damn all. How can you be a great club if all you’ve won is a few cups. You can’t.

Feed on your hate. Feel the force. It will make you stronger.

*Note that I have omitted Man Ure from the list. Life really is too short