A Villa fan tries to pull the scarf off an elderly Wolves fan. The Villa fan spits in his face. I pull the old fella back and push the Villa fan away. It is getting darker here now and there is malevolence and hate. Crushing it is. Senseless. Pointless.
On Tuesday night I was at my Moms being spoiled. I had a packet of sweets and a cup of tea and she had opened the window so I could listen to the Wolves fans singing and talking going up Molineux alley. It was cold and the delicious frigid breeze was refreshing. It was glorious, the memories were smashing into my painkiller sodden brain like punches, as I poked my head out of the window I could see the ghosts of the old floodlight towers against a violet tungsten blurred sky purple sky. The Reading game. Tuesday night matches. When we were kids we would gather together trying to work out what was going on via the roar of the crowds. A goal would shake Whitmore Reans and we would jump around like lunatics. But now even if the memories were thick so was the pain from my leg and I limped back to my comfy chair laughing and grimacing and laughing again. Fucking have that Villa, losing to QPR. Still I think about them…For even if it was two days before tonight, I was still there, I had left something on those cold roads surrounding it but had also taken some things away too. A new love for us, new friends and a new/old friendship that was reinforced by a new love and respect, an awe in fact. I watched Horace hold back the madness of violence and the ignorance of the Police with his intent. Is he a fan of Wolves this Horace bloke? No, he is Wolves for me. All the songs I sing are for him. So I lie still as the kicks fly and the anger flows and Horace is a mighty thing and so are we.
My Mom has found out an old Wolves Diary 1981-82 season. £30 for a season ticket and I’m laughing again.
It is violent and black out of the stadium. I fall and suffer but I have no hate left for things as formless and vacuous as Villa. Where Birmingham City have tenets of their own hate they are borne from experience and misplaced love for their team. This Villa thing is a nothingness. This is an abyss. A cop tries to shift me out of the road where I have fallen. I think I’ve broken my cheekbone too, it moves under my fingers. All I see are feet. I have a tank of painkiller gas and I share it with another fan who just needs a hit. There are feet and there is Horace arguing and debating with the cops. I am safe with him. Villa could put out rows of hard faced fools to attack me and his eyes would have them back down in fear.
I mentioned it was hard to write about a football match days after I watched it when inside, mentally you are still there watching it, every kick of the ball and every song we sang still reverberating through the thick viscous vapour of the ether. It’s like that for sure. It was a swan song of games for sure. Goodbye to a functioning right leg for a few weeks and goodbye to the Batth enigma too, for me at least. I suspect Danny has had his moment and he will slip away somewhere in the close season and make a name for himself somewhere else, maybe.
What went wrong at Villa? In the grand scheme of Nunoism it’s a subtle blip on the heart monitor or the tremble of a muscle maybe. The game was hyped and the propaganda was in full flow…it was like that prematch. The hate had been stoked up and the vitriol was thick as the clouds that kept Gods eyes away from the diaspora of Villa park, the semi deserted streets of the jewellery quarter, the trains there from Stourbridge were full of fans going to the Hawthorns and other places. It was weird and strange. Steve Bruce had things to say before the match as did his ‘superiors’. Dr Tony Xia had waxed mutterings and obtuse crap for days. Villa fans were being put under a deluge of semi intelligible propaganda and ‘thoughts’ from their army of media darlings at Radio Birmingham and their own staff. This torrent of formless accusation and spin affected the day. We indeed had a new enemy that day and that enemy was not the rabid affected hate of Warnock or Holloway which in their own bitter way was at least concrete and emotive, but instead half formed bitterness, choked accusation over FFP and the involvement of Jorge Mendes at Wolves. There was other shit for sure but the formless ‘banter’ and mists of this war of words from Villa park was laughable, at least sitting at home on the lap top or looking at your phone. It was a landscape of funny gifs and banterous humour at least from us. But for them in Birmingham it was different. This was their dogma. Brucism, the malignant relentless symphonies of their angst and fears. It clouded their minds and brought their team out onto the pitch unsmiling and choked, emotionally at least. To the right of us at the Trinity road end their fans hardly watched the game. This was all about us, not football at all. It was about the simple tribalism of these ends, the songs, the cut throat gestures, the unbearable tightness of their horrors. The Stone Island stare, the fucking hateful glare, the rhythm of the violence had no end.
At one point in the game their ‘wonderkid’ Grealish stopped to run his fingers through his hair, he looked as if he was searching for a mirror. His performance wasn’t for the team, it was for the trendy bars and expensive nightclubs of Birmingham and his coterie of hangers on. It was pure Brucism of course. On paper at least the whole game ticked all the boxes for what should have been a season defining point for Aston Villa but of course we know it wasn’t that at all and even their team knew it. A victory, 4-1 to them but as they applauded their own fans as they walked around the stadium the Villa team looked as if they were going to burst into tears. This was Brucism, this was the result of their ideas. A victory in name only and ultimately it did define their season. It defined it as a twitch of a hanged mans leg, freshly dropped form the scaffold, it beheld an idea of a former existence, the corpse moved for sure. Four shots and four goals. But there wasn’t any life left within it just a resemblance of one.
We of course were the superior team and there isn’t any doubt in my mind at all. An artist always needs a Muse of sorts, a channel to let flow the artistry of football we have displayed this season and today our Muse had retreated to the shadows between those stands and seats. She had decided to retreat and let the foul odours of Villa Park settle into the hearts of our team so that we became simply a team for sure. There was no delicate flourish and incisive decision making. Every pass sound like a minor key, every ball through midfield had an inkling of dour and unexpressive love in the face of this Brucist style of football Villa played, where every pass had to have a paragraph of hate or a tweet of bitterness. Villa are a wounded animal at least in policy and hope and in that forlorn way these megacity teams play we had sucked up that virus too. There was a fever for sure. We commanded and we lead at times. But they had an extra dose of the virus, a few degrees more fever. Where we mourned the abandonment of the Muse, they revelled in their dysfunctionality and for a moment or two during the game they actually enjoyed the terminality and inevitability of their fall. The four goals were not delightful events they expected them to be, but were the codas to their decline if they can’t navigate the play offs, the end of this game is the cracking of the veneer.
Before the game of course we did as we did. Our team had just won at Leeds and we were ascendant again. Stuck in the arms of our lovers, delightful. We laughed and we sand and were proud. But the closer we got to the game the more heavy the air seemed and the more dull and listless the metaphysics seemed. Claret and blue is such a sickly death like colour scheme. It was dull and formless to me, as was the whole sacred idea of the match. If we had won of course it would have been a victory of delights and ‘rightness’. Good against evil so to speak. And fucking hell God, you can throw the odd spanner in the works for sure. By half time I had lost my voice nearly. It seemed to sing and to shout but the soundwaves from my vocal chords were just falling to my feet on the grey concourse of that cursed hole. Are we not rivals? No, we are fellow travellers for sure but to rival is to set oneself on a similar plane vying for the same illustrious victory but the difference between us and them is an abyss for sure. A void. Nearly as big as the ten point gap we set back in place after the Reading game.
It’s relentless isn’t it, this season. Never in all my years of following Wolves have I laughed and cried so much. It’s intensity and it’s beauty have dragged me to the edge of despair and to the rarified heights of crystal clear orgasmic delights. ‘Are you Wolves fans then?’ the Nurse in the Accident and Emergency department of Sandwell Hospital asks us. Horace is still with me and he nods with his brow furrowed and worried and I do love him, and I laugh. I have had too much painkiller gas and I’m stoned, I’m looking at my leg bent in all sorts of weird ways, there is bone sticking out somewhere, and blood, and pain. Of course we are Wolves fans. Are we not beautiful and handsome, are our threads not slick and delightful, casual and rare? Are we Wolves fans? Fans? I’m a fan of Sun Kil Moon, delicious acoustic songs of loss and beauty, love and loss. Sun Kil Moon never made me cry like this. Are we fans? No, we are not Wolves ‘fans’ we are what Wolves are and as the threads of Fosuns belief are strong and tenable, ductile, ever dynamic and resolute under the hate we ourselves have those threads that entwine around everything we are. Our loves and hate reflected in feeling and emotion over the hard arse spreadsheet and the figures that roll across them. We lose and we die a little, for a few days at least. I sit in a hospital bed and watch a man struggle to breathe, I watch a young Nurse on the 15th hour of her shift still smile and still rush to placate and reassure him. I watch everything and feel everything. The pain is unbearable now but it’s ok. In a few days little Helder, my Helder will slip a ball between his own legs to twist up a Reading defender and forensically slips the ball to Benik who slots home. They have brought me Morphine and I click the button which sends me into a fog of pain free minutes. I love you Coady. I love you Helder. I love you Benik. I love you Nuno. I’m laughing again.