The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
He is riding on the back of an open-top bus, red-faced and matter-of-fact, clapping his hands for the crowd below. An FA Cup scarf is knotted thickly at his neck; a blue-and-white banner streams out behind his head, like the flag in Liberty Leading the People. The buntings on the bus railing come up nearly to his chest, and he’s tilted slightly to one side, like the wand of a metronome. You could almost believe you’d caught him swaying in a hot air balloon, hundreds of feet in the air.
He’s looking right at the camera. His eyes—as ever with Harry Redknapp—are a dead zone that soak up adjectives. You could say lidded, aloof, proud, defensive, romantic, practical, tolerant. You could say confident, brisk, restrained, delighted, arrogant, businesslike, suffering. He has a rich face, in which complex planes of life are continuously realigning, and he has pursed his lips, and he has chosen for his victory parade to wear a short-sleeved shirt with his suit jacket.
You have to load the full-sized picture to see the lidless FA Cup, also leaning on the railing, as indifferent to Harry has he apparently is to it. It’s the best picture of Harry Redknapp that I’ve ever seen, because the contrast between his densely significant face and the slightly absurd, giddy, celebratory atmosphere around him (an atmosphere that extends all the way into his clothes and physical posture) makes it strikingly plain how little the setting has to do with the character he projects. He could wear that face on an opera stage, in a courtroom, or on a rocket to the moon without looking out of place.
This time he won the FA Cup. His eyebrows know the score. His silver watch has gold accents. God only knows what’s next.
Thanks to Laura Gilchrist, both for taking this splendid photo and for permission to use it.
by Brian Phillips · May 19, 2008