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.
I kept picturing this one as a YouTube video that would start with the words “LIVERPOOL – EVERTON” written in enormous letters and then faded to a series of intertitles followed by a rapid succession of image stills, the images switching rapidly as though they were being served by a slide projector, a loud whirring ftftftftftftft sound accompanying every switch: PHYSICAL PLAY (Alonso and Victor Anichebe knocking their heads together, Arteta spatting Gerrard), EXCESSIVE SPEED (the ball sproinging around midfield as everyone sprints about sliding in on everyone else), PENALTY-RELATED CONTROVERSY (Jagielka thwumping Torres in the area, Skrtel colliding with Anichebe), SHRILL COMPLAINING (quick montage of 10-12 players on their knees in the wet grass raising their arms in disbelief at Howard Webb), ONE DRAMATIC GOAL (Steven Gerrard zorching it in from 30 yards after being heroically left in isolation by the entire Everton defense), ONE LATE EQUALIZER (Cahill stooping to butt home Arteta’s free kick)…and then the screen would spin around to reveal that the original LIVERPOOL – EVERTON legend had somehow changed to say THE BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE, which, to the dying strains of whatever vocoder-rock anthem was powering the workouts of the TV executives that month, would lingeringly fade to black.
I might not be the best judge of the game, as I watched it through Sopcast flutter and listened to what sounded like Martin Tyler through what sounded like faraway ghost bedsprings being crunched by a ghost rhinoceros for 90 minutes. I might have misheard Martin Tyler-ish when he said of the goal-scoring Steven Gerrard that he “certainly is a man for a big moment,” which, I thought, is true enough, but then he’s also a man for scoring when he’s left in a void of defenders extending radially at least six yards around him. So it was really a perfect harmonic convergence. I liked Cahill’s goal better; at least it represented a successfully completed transfer of the ball between teammates. Possibly the only one of the second half.
I thought of a poem about the referee while I was waiting for my stream to re-buffer at one point:
If Alex Hleb and Howard Webb
Should meet in a dark alley,
Then Howard Webb would Alex Hleb
Remove from Rand McNally.
For Howard Webb, e’en at full ebb,
Is as a man but mighty,
And Alex Hleb could ne’er beweb
The biggest ref in Blighty.
I could see this going on for another 20 or so stanzas and maybe turning into something. Anyway, it’s remarkable. He looks like Tim Curry, only microwaved.
by Brian Phillips · January 19, 2009