We begin away in Swansea in the English region of Wales. After recent unpleasantness it was most satisfying to crush the dreams of a struggling club. In the second half we really flat-track bullied them out of the game. The opening half hour was so stultifying that I took to taking pot shots at the gardening staff out of the window with my favourite Purdey, and succeeded in maiming Old Seth. He’s used to it by now and is in a stable condition. I don’t mean he’s in hospital, god no! We don’t want Old Bill involved. No, every time I shoot him for sport, we stick him in the stable.
Happily for Old Seth and his arse wound, the Brigadier popped one in just before Oranges. This unloved warrior, despised by pognophobes, has scored five in five games. If this is underperformance then who knows how many he’ll score when he pulls his socks up.
The second half saw the impressive Mr. Webbley have a couple of shots deflected past Woolwich old boy Mr. Flappesthwaite. The first one was probably goal-bound but the second was definitely not, and one couldn’t help but giggle like the Laughing Policeman at the preposterousness of it. Mr. Saunders added a fourth, and our first away win since early December was as welcome as a friendly but discrete doctor when you’ve accidentally shot the head gardener.
More happy news reaches us; Lord Peregrine Meatlocker has extended his contract. This marvellous beast, a product of King’s School , Canterbury, then Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, followed by a spell with Gillingham, has kindly agreed to stay with Woolwich for another year. Those who say he is not the fastest of players are missing the point. This is like saying a big, lumbering bear is not the fastest of animals. Some players do not need speed. They need cunning, and to be a beast in the tackle. He’s also quite the card in the dressing room, which was one of the other reasons given for keeping him on. Long may he gee up the chaps.
To save you the bother of having to ask a footman to look Burnley up on a map, it is of course in the North. The cold, tough North. It’s so Northy, so tough and so cold in Burnley, that their stadium’s name contains the words TURF and MOOR. Earthy, windy, cold, tough, TURF. Windy, tough, windy-tough turfy MOOR. Are you a MAN? Do you insist your barber cuts your hair with a pair of gardening shears? Do you drink only discounted homemade grain spirit? Do you wear, if you will “nowt” but a thermal vest even in arctic temperatures? Do you fight other men outside public houses with your fists?
No? Then you are not welcome at windy and tough TURF MOOR. Not for southern softies. Not for metropolitan elites. Not for people who take their coffee with frothed milk. They are instant coffee drinkers up there in the tough, earthy, windy, men’s world of Burnley. This is TURF MOOR, HOME OF MEN. Their nickname, if you don’t mind, is THE CLARETS. Claret, to the uneducated, does not mean a red wine from Bordeaux. IT MEANS BLOOD.
Their leader, Mr. Sean Dyche, is a man. He demonstrates complete mastery of his immediate surroundings, especially his chin. He has allowed some hair to grow there, but only in the very ordered way of the goat, for Mr. Sean Dyche is so manly, he chooses to imitate the beard of a famously virile and devilish animal. Not for him the glossy and luxuriant beard of London’s Shoreditch craftsmen. No.
Sean Dyche sports the controlled ginger chin-covering of the animal who provided suckle in a cave on Crete to the greatest of all the Greek Gods, Zeus. Sean Dyche’s beard alludes to the Sabbatic Goat, Baphomet, which contains the sum total of the universe; good and evil, man and woman. Sean Dyche is a man, and he wishes to crush Arsenal at two fifteen on Sunday.
We shall use our weapons of delicate interplay and occasional sneakiness to ensure that this does not happen.