Friday, April 9, 2010

A Fulham fever dream

This week I saw someone on Twitter asking the world if it's possible that anyone dislikes Roy Hodgson. I'm sure there's one guy somewhere – at least, right? – that just doesn't care for Roy's can-do spirit. Then again, it just might be true: Roy Hodgson is the most beloved leader drawing breath today. Now is the time for him to consolidate his power and take the next step.
After all, should Fulham win the Europa League – complete with players hoisting him upon their shoulders while he smiles with grandfatherly joy – it will only fill football fans the world over with a warm sense of happiness. The scene will remind supporters battered by stories of debt and worry about the future of the sport that, yes, dreamers can succeed, hard work can be magnificently rewarded and that, in the end, the good guys can still get the girl – er, oversized and shiny cup. But the whole thought is shaded by a bit of condescension, isn't it? It reminds one of how a young boy might pedal his first bicycle down the street, wobbly and unsteady. He's still upright after his father's guiding hand helps the bike get moving. Then, dad lets go of the back of that bike seat and watches his progeny roll away. The neighbors smile at the cuteness of it all, and the old man himself is quite proud.
That's not enough, of course. Will dad still be beaming 10 years later if riding a bicycle remained the last developmental step his son had mastered? "Yeah, great moment on that bike in the street 10 years ago, son. Wonderfully proud, then. Can you please explain why you failed every class – again – this term and vomited on the pretty girl from down the street who smiled at you and said hello?"
This is why Roy Hodgson must take the lead as a key figure in a nascent political movement.
Right now, I just don't have time for the Tea Party movement in America. There's hardly enough hours in the day as it is to be disillusioned with just the two-party system. Perhaps the trampling of liberty and the socialism running roughshod over innocent Americans didn't make that right turn at Chicago and get to Milwaukee. Could the whole thing have just passed me by? I know it also hasn't quite hit home with many of my fellow countrymen.
Roy Hodgson – the lovable leader with a calm demeanor (there's your slogan) – could change all that. He has a way of plain speaking that inspires confidence. You want to have a beer with him, but you also want to hear what he has to say about the rights of the individual in a country founded on principles forged during an all-or-nothing clash against tyranny. Perhaps Obama could be removed from office? Maybe government could be reduced tenfold? Twentyfold, even! Roy Hodgson has it within his grasp to accomplish these things. I mean, shoot, look what he got Fulham to do in the second leg against Juventus!
Naturally, there are some problems he must overcome. He's English, but I think the Tea Party will eventually go for it if he can finagle a photo op with Sarah Palin. A bigger obstacle is that he's a soccer coach. To many over here, soccer = foreigners' obsession where they kill each other and also are surrendering French – even the Mexicans and South Americans. A former co-worker once commented on my wearing a Liverpool shirt to work that soccer is "a communist plot to 'subtrovert' America." Then he walked outside and drove home in his Toyota, but I digress. This is a problem for Roy Hodgson, but all political geniuses have baggage. Obama was born in Africa fer cryin' out loud!
Dare to dream, Roy. Reach for more than just hoodwinking the traditional European footballing powers. Win that Europa League, accept the trophy and then in your first public comments, smash it on the ground and declare your intent to win the Liberty League. Make them fear you.

In short-term developments, future American political superstar Roy Hodgson's Fulham visits Anfield on Sunday. I always look forward to Liverpool's matches with Fulham. The Cottagers have this tight-knit group of fun supporters in Milwaukee, and getting out to see them and watch the match in public brightens the mood. I wish there was video of the bar scene when Danny Murphy and Jimmy Bullard kept Fulham up on the last day of the season – and then immediately squelched the masculine feeling of the moment by parading around the Fratton Park pitch in a shirtless embrace. An entire bar rallied behind the Fulham supporters during the second half, and in the end, there was scarf twirling, boisterous singing of "Super Danny Murphy!" and exultation. Then Bullard and Murphy put on a Cottagers Playhouse production of this Hollywood classic for all the world to enjoy.
I mention and link to all this only because there is nothing else I can bring up that is in any way dismissive of Fulham. I love Fulham. I insist it is everyone's second favorite team – even more so now with Hodgson pulling the strings. My No. 1 side, of course, is Liverpool, so I'm compelled to make even half-hearted attempts at bravado. It's always preferable to being indifferent.
That's much too dour a thought to end on, though, so I'll leave now with this pixelated peek at pandemonium from that aforementioned Danny Murphy moment:

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