There Are Too Many Thickos In Football

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Rt. Hon. Francis MAUDE MP

House of Commons


London SW1A 0AA


Own Goal

The eloquence of your remark that ‘there are too many thickos in English football’ has caught my attention.

Football without fans is nothing

- Jock Stein

I can report from my experiences on the terraces that football is indeed teeming rife with the most disarmingly discourteous yahoos imaginable. I have rarely heard such a hullabaloo as that vented by the congregated masses at the overseeing official each and every time the unfortunate man is obliged to issue some cautionary words or punishment to one of the players for having committed an indiscretion. Some might say that it is almost a hybrid experience born out the ruckus of PM’s Question Time and the (reported) rabid bedlam of a choir-boy in The Garrick, and the enjoyment of football is all the better for it.

Worrying as it may appear to you in Westminster though, footballers and their followers are a manifest reflection of the public at large that constitutes the national population, the consequent inference of your statement being that there are too many thickos in England. Thus to assert, as you have, that footballers are in any way thicker than, say, ice-hockey players may be contrived, I submit, to be gallopingly slanderous to the population at large. As a director of the Guildford Flames, you are no doubt fully acquainted with the academic competence of the ice-hockey fraternity, and I would be surprised to learn of any marked contrast between the intellectual performance of both ice-hockey players and fans and their footballing counterparts. I suggest you raise this issue at the next board meeting as it appears to trouble you.

Behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought
- Dennis Bergkamp

Conversely, however, and contrary to the apparent gist of your jibe, there are huge number of high-brow intellectuals at large in sport, and specifically in football, there being a school of study devoted to the sage and the sapient. ‘Philosophy Football’ is an excellent book devoted to the laudation of XI great footballing thinkers, a veritable dream-team, if you will, of philosophising fans and players through the ages.

GK Albert Camus

LB Jean Baudrillard

RB Simone de Beauvoir

CB Friedrich Nietzsche

CB Ludwig Wittgenstein

RM Oscar Wilde

CM William Shakespeare

CM Sun Tzu

LM Bob Marley

CF Antonio Gramsci

CF Umberto Eco

Football is an art
- Germaine Greer

Manager Mark Perryman appears to favour 4-4-1-1 with Eco on his own up front and Gramsci filling in the hole behind - an offensive approach not dissimilar, I seem to recall, from Peter Taylor’s approach with Heskey and Barmby against Italy recently. I would prefer to see Wilde on the other wing as I believe he was more of a left-footer. In this context (the ambi-pedal), silky-skilled Steve McMannaman has a touch of the Oscar Wildes about him don’t you think?

Power is only too happy to make football bear a diabolical responsibility for stupefying the masses
- Jean Baudrillard

Dangerously sharp at left-back, enfant terrible, Baudrillard offers an alternative view, writing that “after several thousand revolutions and a century or two of political apprenticeship, … there are still … a thousand persons who stand up and twenty million who remain ‘passive’ - and not only passive, but who, in all good faith and without even asking themselves why, frankly prefer a football match to a human and political drama”. Thus, society cannot be comprised solely of heavy-weight intellectuals and leaders of men. The passive majority to which Baudrillard refers is comprised of fundamentally simple-hearted yeomen with neither ambition nor discontent in excess.

[Football] is WAR - minus the shooting
- George Orwell

Entertainment (here football, but otherwise inter alia a Friday night out to the pub, a 2-week caravan holiday in Bournemouth, sex) ensures that excessive antisocial desires (incited perhaps by boredom) are kept at bay that might otherwise threaten the harmony required by the establishment to maintain the status quo. Bosman-like, Baudrillard is challenging, exposing and unravelling the defensive order imposed by the establishment that you, Maude MP, purport to represent. Football is employed by our politicians as a device in the quest for national identity, as an arena ‘constructively’ manipulated by politicians and generals, and as an agent of political, socio-economic, and cultural elites in order to stifle working-class and popular consciousness and revolt. Baudrillard may have a point - is the actual contest on the field secondary to the event of going to the stadium and participating in the hoped-for victory? After all, at the end of the day, three points in the bag is all that counts.

Football is working class ballet
- Alf Garnett

The thrust of Baudrillard’s argument is that football’s existence in society is semi-symbiotic, necessary in itself for the sake of society’s hegemony providing that its audience members are predominantly proletarians, whilst allowing football to feed off the need for such a diversion to exist. In this way, Baudrillard is arguing that you can’t have “too many thickos in football”.

Have you noticed how we only win the World Cup under a Labour Government
- Harold Wilson

Perhaps in this context you have sympathy for the efforts of John Stuart Mill who wrote splendidly in his seminal essay Representative Government (1861) in favour of assigning plurality of suffrage to those with authenticated superiority of education. You will concede, nonetheless, that however solid at the back such a philosophy appears prima facie, the ovinely Conservative people of Horsham may not turn out to be the bookish intelligentsia that you would require to maintain the 18,000 seat majority that keeps you in gin and quail at the House of Commons.

Indeed, 18,000 can sound like a comfortable margin in which to indulge your complacency by articulating fatuous inanities in search of the instant gratification of the well-received populist soundbite. However, it will be of little solace to you that 18,000 is less than a third of the capacity of Old Trafford, and is only marginally less than that of The Valley.

You are advised to remember that your political existence relies on the grace and goodwill of the general public of whom you are so dismissive. The thickos at whom you so readily scoff are the same subjects whose suffrage you will smarmingly and hypocritically covet at election time, and I hope they kick your smugly pompous arse right off the park.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Montague Trout

Manager - Organcheese Academicals

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