Adventures in Nunoland


Jaap Stam eh? He says he can beat us and he’s not scared. He waxes lyrical to the press about it with that Stam Steeze where his forehead wrinkles up like a Primark shirt after one wash. It’s an internal dialogue where he’s talking to himself really. Forget about our team Jaap. Forget about the lubrications and the magical football we play. What are your ideas? What is your philosophy? What is the platform for these ideas you have when really the idea is just a hypothesis isn’t it? It’s tilting at windmills like a bald headed Don Quixote hoping your words will galvanise your team into some viable opposition. You may even claw a win out of today but the question still remains. Are your ideas stronger than Nunos? I’m mixing sand and cement, thinking about the game to come and it’s cold and making my back ache. I know Frazzle Dave is watching me from his kitchen window, watching me lump slabs around.

Welcome to Nunoland! Nunoland, the magical adventure kingdom where you will vomit into your lap after riding the ‘Neves of Terror’ the ‘Jota-Train’ and the ‘Mean Bonatini’. Clutching your candy floss as you pass the ‘Carnival of Coady’ your forehead will wrinkle again and your ideas will be defunct as you power up ‘The Edwards’ maybe or the Bod for a final swansong against this unstoppable power and fairy dust from Nuno’s Wizard cloak. Jaap Stam stops in front of a Carnival mirror and laughs at his misshapen face and head…but oh it’s a real mirror.

Nuno entices you further into the maze of attractions with a wave of his hand and his top hat set at a jaunty angle. Come on in Mr Stam, and Jaap bobbles his eyes and the carnival lights reflect off his smooth head, the cards in Nunos hand skitter and tumble from hand to hand as he entices him to make a bet. The cards slip between his fingers twisting and turning, fast, so fast it’s hard to see where the three of Points is…Come on Jaap lay your money down. Nunos voice is hypnotic and gentle, rhythmic and sensuous…Find the goal, it’s easy. Stam picks a card and Nuno smiles and flips it over. The Joker that seems to have Dave Edwards face…. And Nuno smiles and puts the three points from Jaap into one of his many magical pockets. Try again? In the second half we were under almost constant attack and I can’t bear witness to much of it as I was crouched under the seat practically. Ruddy hoofs a ball upfield, it’s collected by Reading and they ping two three shots at the Wolves goal and it looks like the whole script is about to be rewritten. It’s sipping that eighth pint and things are curly and unsteady. Sip and hold on.

‘Dave Edwards is part of the family regardless of what you think’

Family get togethers and weddings are always weird. The smelly Aunties, the Uncles who used to touch you, the cousins ‘he’s been to prison for nicking cable off the railway’, you’re on your best behaviour, turning your nose up at the crap buffet that you devour after three pints listening to Uncle Combover talk about Hank Marvin and the Shadows at Willenhall baths in 1962.

This match is like that. Dave Edwards, Uncle Dave eh? He will be polishing his angst in the mirror at the way we shifted him on. Squirting himself with 50 year old aftershave, Old Spice probably or Brut. Putting his shoes on top of the gas fire to loosen up as they have been crushed at the bottom of the wardrobe since the last family get together and now look like a deep sea fish. Wearing a suit that wouldn’t be out of place on Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. You know that by the time the DJ plays ‘I am the Resurrection’ Dave will be white man drunk dancing in the middle of the dance floor, Dave swishes and knocks a drink out of somebodies hand, Dave knocks over a little kid and doesn’t even notice as it’s that bass bit in the song.

‘Dum dum dumma dum dum dum dum dagga dat dat da dagga dat’

Stone Roses eh? Uncle Combover slips over in the pool of alcohol that Dave spilled and now stares at the pretty disco lights on the community center ceiling, he thinks he’s had a heart attack but it’s the dodgy pork pie, always the dodgy pork pie. I am the Resurrection and I am the light.

‘We treated him disgracefully. He’s a Welsh International for fucks sake’

An industrial estate town, a cultural abstract, a place of potholes and wife swapping parties, holidaying at Center Parc. We left Dave and Bod there in Reading and I feel a little bad about it. I feel bad about the pre match arguments that started about Dave. He still has an effect on some peoples hearts. An old girlfriend thing. We are going to get it on with him again. Not love but fumbly touching and memories of that time you both went crazy. When one of those errant aimless runs he did made the ball  bounce off his head or foot while he was in the box and it just went in. That one goal that Bod scored. Is this not love? No, I can’t love them any more, as soon as they walk out the door at Molineux they are gone, unless they did heroic things of course. Which they didn’t really, not that I remember.

Oh Dave, your football was as inspiring as a book about potholes really. It reflects beautifully the diaspora of Reading. Dave is an office party fuck in the photocopier room with Denise Purplefringe from Procurement, slightly drunk with cheap wine, hands clawing wins here and there, and probably a bit of a clap after. The crumbs of a mince pie would be suck on the hairs on her upper lip as you groped your way to that five seconds of bliss and the sadness of paper towels, Dave wheeling away from a goal he scored arms outstretched…’We’ve got Dave Edwards! Super Dave Edwards! I just don’t… want… to….. understand…’. The glass on top of the photocopier is making cracking noises as you pound away to that knee trembling festive fuck and contemplate the next twelve months of abject eye avoiding post xmas office fuck angst. And crikey it was a fuck and a half during some points in the second half as Reading had pop after pop at our goal until at times it felt like Wolves were Denise perched on top of the photocopier getting ball after ball slammed towards us only for Boly or Coady to get a face or a foot in.

Now of course we are having a fling with that sexy Portuguese thing from Marketing, flouncing around with her sexy football, you don’t know what she sees in you, she’s beautiful and fit, she’s making all the right noises at you, touching your hair (or bald head) telling you how much she adores you in that lubricative Mediterranean lilt, her breath smells of lemons and saffron, sunset dinners, arse like a peach…..but Denise is giving you the evils from across the office. Dave and Bod will be wearing low cut tops, tottering on heels, shouting about how many times they go to PureGym so you can hear. Dave and Bod still love us. Probably waiting for that lil Portuguese slut to wander off not interested any more so she can say ‘I told you so’ if you hadn’t blocked her on social media. Today will be that. I drop a slab into position and kick it up a few millimeters, stand back with my hands on me back feeling those scars ache in the cold. At Reading I watch the net bulge as Cavaleiro scores. It seems like normal service. But for a moment that cold drizzle that’s falling from the sky is leaching the colour from it all, at least our play still has some brightness kind of faded and sun worn maybe. Their right back is emotionless and uninspiring, he looks like he doesn’t give a shit, he lacks anything. Horace tells me Lambert loved him and tried to buy him. Blank Face. Typical.

Of course the Santa Maria football we play now is an anathema to Dave and Lambertino. Dave plays for Reading now and that’s pure Denise really. Just about getting the impetus to fly into the stratosphere of Premiership football and Reading falling over on those heels at the door of the swanky nightclub, her boob has fallen out and a heel has broken off those shoes. People are laughing. Reading. What is a Reading? What is this slab? It weighs half a ton and it’s a struggle as I can’t grip it properly as my hands are cold. Denise Purplefringe…I could just put my hands up your jumper for a warm…Just like I will clap Dave really. It’s something to do with your hands as you avoid his eyes when he runs onto the pitch. His first ‘pass’ rattles across the pitch for 40 yards and goes out of play. For half an hour I don’t realise he is on the pitch.

Now returned from international duties some of our players will be that crowd that giggles at Denise with her tit out on the pavement. I mean Reading can play some attractive football sometimes but you just know the addition of ‘Dave’ and ‘Bod’ shows a lack of imagination and idea. But also as grey and bland as Reading is I’m sure that they will have some elements of their game, some obtuse idea of how to knock a ball around. Of course they will probably score a goal too.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Frazzly Dave has put a bet on for Dave to score because Frazzly Dave loves Dave Edwards. I’m going to get £20 for laying these slabs in Frazzles garden  so I could buy a beer at Reading. Dave was out in the garden most of the time avoiding his missus who has this Hyacinth Bouquet thing going on. Talking to the scum laying slabs eh? But Dave loves Dave and he wants to talk about him. Dave wears his work polo shirt on his days off. Dave bets on football. Dave has a racing bike worth 8 thousand quid he never rides. Dave owns his own printing company. Dave loves that Frazzle thing, Dave drives a BMW, his missus has a £400 hair-do and a 58p body. He eats bacon corn snacks in little bacon-y strips, little packets he scrunches in his mouth and spits the crumbs out as he talks. About Dave. Dave has a Dave Edwards shirt framed up on the wall and a little spotlight illuminating it.

‘After what he did for us I think it’s a disgrace we let him go, I mean yeah Nuno is doing a thing but blah blah Dave blah Wales, against Leeds blah Wales international, blah Dave, Dave Blah Dave….’

I nearly crush my finger dropping a slab down but Frazzly Dave doesn’t notice that I really want to drop a slab on his head and I close my eyes as I mallet it level and Daves head is under that Mallet turning to a mush of brain and half chewed corn snack and I wish Bod and Dave were under it too. Especially if they score today. Half of Molineux is at the ‘Madge’ or the ‘MadStad’ and the surroundings are pockets of ‘Ayits’ and ‘Ars’ and ‘Yeows’ which sound like exotic Amazonian birdlife but are really ‘Yes it is’ and ‘Yes’ and You’. The feeling is stressful to me, the day is abstract, the industrial thing is thick and heavy. The Police are grumpy and leathery, the sky looks like Yodas ball sack. It’s like your head being wrapped in clingfilm.

‘We never understood the skill Dave has, you fuckers in the Southbank only watch one end, I see it all in the Billy Wright’

We sing because that’s what we do. It’s proper English folk music this is. The denigration of rivals and neighbours in song form is the purest expression of Englishness in the world. Forget Royalty and Westminster, democracy and Empire. It’s all about how many fingers ‘they’ have. That the place where they live is a shithole. That the team that represents them are shit. There’s a lot of ‘shit’ in these songs. That’s the way it should be.

‘We’ve never had a baggie in our seat’

The match? Well. it was ‘that’ kind of a match surely. This blog post reflects the game perfectly. Meandering and curly with a chunk of those tactics here and there. Reading did well to get that many shots on out goal. Ruddy, immense. Doherty solid and incisive again. But I can’t write about how we did this and that on the pitch when the weight of greyness that surrounded us on the way in to the stadium, it’s a tragedy for sure. An endless Bentley Bridge. Signs, signs everywhere a sign fucking up the scenery wasting my mind. Landscape affects the football maybe

But it was a match. I’m delirious. Yin and Yang ball surely but here and there it was a cosmic experience only countered by the wastelands that surround us on the way out of the area. What is this dystopic miasma of corrugated steel and plastic crap we have filled this country up with? A disgrace. Another three points Nuno my sweetheart. Another step up that lofty ladder to Moneyville and everything is crispy and Christmassy. A skip up the kerb outside. A heart laugh at something Horace has moaned about. Another beautiful day in Nunoland. I’m holding a load of brightly coloured balloons that all have Nuno’s face on them. Could Reading have won? Maybe a few years ago this match would have been them equalising and then them scoring the winner in the last minute, their jubilant support raining abuse upon our heads….but now? This victory, as scrappy at times as it was shows us that a momentum exists now. The wins and the beautiful football we have played so far has added a weight to our intentions and that weight is now pushing games like this, that we would have lost a few years ago to a victorious conclusion. Momentum of the idea I suppose. This momentum is important in games like this when the opposition decide to stand up and be counted. They just get rolled over. No matter how brave and big they are the momentum of the Wolves is now too great. The ideas are too vast for simple tactical changes to have an effect.

We listened to Tony Pulis and enraged Albion fans on the radio on the way back to Wolverhampton and Horace kept laughing at their angry semi incoherent rants. I laughed too as we walk and move with that momentum we must also look down the road at the Birmingham clubs like West Brom/Villa/Birmingham City who have either no momentum [Villa and City] or backward momentum like West Brom. We’re going to pass them aren’t we? Waving at their glum faces as they stand with their faces pressed up the windows of the train to Nowhere. Looking at the pure horror of the environment around Reading I’m secure in the knowledge that despite the monochrome sadness of the place we have dug deep indeed to react and finish the match with three points and that’s pure belief in a system as well as that momentum. The team need a medal for that. Onwards and upwards.

Sorry it’s so long. Waffling.


One thought on “Adventures in Nunoland

  1. Loving the Stone Roses reference and the image of the wedding party in my head.
    I imagine Nuno singing the lines to himself as he lays in the bath further developing his big ‘idea’ and deciding how he is going to slay the next opponent as his rubber duck bobs serenely at his feet.
    ‘I am the resurrection and I am the light’ he mutters to himself in his best Manc accent.
    Wasn’t it foretold by our ancestors, the city elders and founders that out of darkness would cometh light. Who would of put money on it being a goalkeeper from Portugal who would hold the torch aloft so brightly.
    I loving this journey and it is made more special with blogs of this quality.
    Keep up the great writing.