by Steve Mackan (NVQ (Catering lv.1 and Graphic Design DNC) )
Choose your colours. Choose a club. Choose to follow. Choose a fucking expensive home kit. Choose scarves, autographs, matchday programmes and ticket stubs. Choose a broken fax machine, low expectations and broken down coaches. Choose to take the train. Choose a season ticket. Choose your friends and your enemies. Choose sportswear and matching luggage. Choose a long day out to Wembley with only disappointment on the horizon. Choose to tick that stadium off the list. Choose the piss-up abroad. Choose the knife-edge or that comfy looking fence. Choose sitting on the stand and watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing performance stuffing fucking crap football into your Adkins-filled mind. Choose rotting away at the end of it all. Choose coming out the other side and clocking why you do this to yourself year in and year fucking out. Choose your future. Choose United…
Choose Dem Blades…’the weekly fanzine with a difference’.
What that difference is, nobody is quite sure. One thing that Steve Mackan is sure about, is that DEM BLADES were always going to have a fan attending today’s game who is as intensely relaxed about referring to themselves in the third person as they are aggrieved by that performance.
If you’re new to this. Welcome. Sit down, please. There’s plenty of room at the back. At the front too…
Are you ready? Are you sure? I’ll begin…
It’s an addiction, football. A craving. Like Cigarettes, Heroin and Hobnobs, which incidentally was the name of the only E.P ever released by Flan!, my school rock band. I digress (often). However much your football club toys with your emotions, you always go back for more. That’s the truth of it. The quality varies. The highs too. But you go back, always.
Supporters of Swansea City are back for more after a campaign, last season, which ended in relegation. Now the club is a sinuous skeleton strewn on the desert floor of the Championship. Circling the once premier remains are ugly, tatty vultures known by names such as Cardiff, Fulham, Brighton, Huddersfield, and Bournemouth.
As Blades, we’ve been there. And we’ve been much lower. We know their plight. But we don’t know what it’s like to endure relegation at the same time as your entire town being rebranded as that immutable bore-spot, Slug & Lettuce.
The bit about the opposition
Graham Potter, Swans manager and all-round top non-entity, described his feelings on the news at a recent press conference: “I am brazenly anti Slug & Lettuce for reasons of culture,” he said before screaming at a poor staff member who was busy reading a book on the Romantic English Poets, “I ASKED FOR SPARKLING WATER WITH A STILL WATER TOP, GODDAMIT.”
If you didn’t know, Potter has a ‘thing’ for ‘culture.’ In his previous post with the Swedish side Östersund, he tried to unify his players by forcing to perform Ballet and Theatre in front of small swathes of people. After his sparkling water outburst, he snatched the book from the staff member’s hand, tore out Shelley’s Mutability and began attempting to paper cut the kid with wild swings of his cultured arms. Mid-arc, he shouted to the agglomerated journos, “I am bringing culture to Swansea, fuck Slug & Lettuce, we’ll win the league with theatre and rap – word!”
The questions on the minds of Swans fans: Will this culture crap come at the cost of performances? And, dontcha think a citywide Slug & Lettuce sounds quite nice, quite cultured?
DEM 90 MINUTES
The bit about the game
The culture from both sides was lacking. Footballing and cultural supremo, Mark Duffy, was on the bench. If ‘muchness’ could be defined as a bland experience tempered by ineffectuality and good soft graft, then the first half can be described as much of a muchness.
The second half was a slight improvement. Graham Potter was sat in his dugout reading Trainspotting because he thought it was set in Swansea. He missed United’s opener as Begbie said something inflammatory – a cultured finish by George Baldock after a nice move around the Swansea penalty box – and had little to say about it. The Mute Swan.
But that’s a moot point. United struggled with Swansea’s pace and better quality of passing. Direct running too – I am beginning to forget what it’s like to have a player who can beat a man. Anyhow, Swansea scored. And then again. I feel no need to describe the goals because it will only serve to exorcise demons that I’ve pretty much gotten rid off. Needless to say, it wasn’t Darren Potter’s cultural claptrap that gave an advantage to the Swans, crap defending saw to that in compelling fashion – final score, 1-2.
I now look forward to the return fixture with the Swans. Picture the scene: you get out of the train station and everything is Slug & Lettuce. The buildings and cars are all painted in a clean grey. You go to the pub and everything is expensive and crap. The clientele all have cheap-looking suits and empty briefcases full of regret. All food is frozen but thoroughly reheated. You go to the ground and Darren Potter sits at his throne: “Twas me all along, I knew the only scaleable means of improving Swansea was to work with Slug & Lettuce and just look at it now…”
The bit about the Blades
Where was Duffy? A phrase never used about the one hit wonder of ‘Mercy’ fame. Despite some good saves by Henderson, there wasn’t all that much to enjoy in the Blades performance. And, in the same way, that I could’ve made a bigger impact in the above sentence by taking the lexical decision to replace ‘enjoy’ with ‘relish,’ Chris Wilder could’ve made more impactful decisions in his team selection.
But he didn’t, did he? It was a crap. We can moan. But we chose this, didn’t we? Maybe we were chosen. We choose to do this to ourselves year in and year fucking out, so let’s enjoy the ride – we’re one game in.
Man of the Match