Thursday, 27 May 2021

Man U - Mets - Too Late to Turn back?

What is it about sports teams? You don’t know their players, never been for a pint with the owners, and yet you follow them from near cradle to the grave.


There are two such teams in my life, though on reflection my loyalty has faced some challenges down the years.


I’ve never even seen Manchester United play in the flesh, a situation that’s unlikely to change. I’ve rarely even watched them on television over the last five years, because for the most part they’re a crowd of unmotivated, overpaid wasters who regularly ruin my Saturdays and have wreaked havoc with my liver.


I won’t even get into their managers. Since the almighty Alex Ferguson retired 8 years ago and took his “half-time hairdryer” with him we’ve had four who wouldn’t have lasted a week with the vaunted Bells of Hell XI.


Well, Ole Solskjaer is decent, with a bit of luck we might finish second in this year’s Premier League; but his game plan for inspiring his prima donnas by giving up an early goal is severely wanting.  Oh for the days of Roy Keane!


Still Man. U have finally found Edinson Cavani, an hombre who knows how to score goals – and there’s always next year – if my sanity and liver hold up!


As to my dark secret: I once considered changing allegiance to our sworn enemies, Liverpool FC.


This all came about in Paddy Reilly’s. In Black 47’s early days when the lines snaked around the block, a group of Liverpool supporters showed up and became fervent fans.


Sensing a lucrative entry to the UK market, I passed off my allegiance to Man. U as a casual crush. Besotted by our music, these lovable Scousers forgave me. 


As it turned out, they regularly flew back to the ‘Pool on Friday nights and began to sing our “Livin’ in America” song on the Anfield terraces.


Lo and behold, their chant became popular with the locals and I was eventually presented with a cassette of a full-blooded version that would make your hair stand on end.


Had Livin’ in America even approached the stature of Gerry Marsden’s You’ll Never Walk Alone I might well have swopped sides, and thus saved my brittle constitution from regular bouts of Saturday morning indigestion.


Talk about “wait until next year!” What team comes automatically to mind? You got it, the Amazin’ Mets! What masochist bestowed that particular adjective on the boys from Flushing?


I didn’t even like baseball at first, it reminded me of an unending, lethargic game of Rounders. How did I first get introduced to it? You guessed it – in a saloon, by name of Tomorrow’s Lounge in Bay Ridge where I resided.


And guess who was the favorite team in that wondrous haven. Let’s just say it wasn’t the Yankees. My romance with the Mets blossomed over long sultry evenings spent amidst the pale fumes of Rheingold.


The game suited me. You don’t have to pay much attention, just sense the tension rising from the crowd, then cheer along or curse your head off as the case may be, before turning once again to solve the world’s problems with your cronies.


Of course there was Keith Fernandez! I loved him as a player and still hang on his every irreverent syllable as a commentator. He has told more truths than any president, an easy task over the last four years.


My faith in the Mets was shook to the core in 1986, for my first cousin, Charlie Kerfeld, a relief pitcher with the Astros, almost sent them packing from the playoffs.


Talk about a game of divided loyalties.


But after striking out two batters, Charlie was pulled for the closer who imploded, and the Amazin’s went on to win the World Series.


Amazin’ or not, my bond with these boys of summer is bone deep – because of the Mets, Black 47 played Shea Stadium more times than the Beatles, albeit for Irish Night. 


Has all the passion and energy spent been worth it?  Well, I shudder to think what else I might have been up to! 


Besides, I perennially live in hope that a time will come when you won’t have to hear this Man-Met say, “Wait until next year!”

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