by Brett Atkinson
If my local were on a camp South Pacific Island created in the 40’s by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and I were to stare longingly at the big screen in quasi-admiration of Didier Drogba, Mike the landlord would no doubt cajole me into a rendition of “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” and we’d all fall about the place in fits of papaya and passion fruit induced giggles. Unfortunately, I appear to have missed the consultation with Carlsberg when they were dressing my boozer, the décor preferred by landlord Mike being the antithesis of my colourful fantasy (almost as if he knew). In this squalid reality, if I were to even once utter under my breath a tentative favourable leaning towards Drogba, Mike’s rather rambunctious son, who works the bar, would no doubt begin to foam at the mouth and bearing his teeth (all three of them) politely ask, “Whadya like ee for? Yer prick!”
I am a garrulous sod after a few pints of the black stuff and I enjoy nothing more than exercising my right to bask in the glorious short comings of my beloved Manchester United’s nemesises (nemesi?). Of late, the Chelski lot — through an unhealthy mix of jealousy on my part, and continued besmirchment of our beautiful game, individually and collectively, on theirs — tend to bare the brunt of my drunken pontificating. Curious as it seems, even to me, I don’t include “Dog-breath” in this overtly regular diatribe.
Whilst I’m hardly curmudgeonly, there are precepts of conduct within the game I try and hold dear. These are spitefully laughed in the face of every time Drogba crosses the hallowed white line. He resides within the recesses of his own mind. If he were to neglect to think about himself for a second he may cease to exist. He’s a cartoon with his own micro-climate — whilst Chelsea bathe in the May sunshine, “The Drog” can be found drowning in a shit storm of his own creation. It’s his world, his way (ruled by his own brand of “Drogma”, sorry).
Despite all this I view Drogba not as a paradigm case of a petulant footballer, but more a seminal post-post-modern superstar of what our simple game has become. His persona almost entirely born of a natural gift for self-aggrandisement. (There is maybe more to him than this of course. I begrudgingly admit that when in the mood he is as unplayable as unplayable can be. But I’ll hide that in these brackets.) With every calamitous dive, onion-bag smashing volley, pitiful grass-cutting scuff from 50 yards, slobber over the club badge, tempestuous tirade at the ref, irksome tantrum, triumphant leap into the crowd, he manages to somehow eclipse most other attempts at being the best in the given category. Everything he does is to the nth degree.
I’m in awe of his absolute belief in himself. His drive to be a legend, I find legendary in itself.
I’m fairly certain my attraction isn’t in any way a wholly positive one. I’m by no means a moth to a flame but it’s hardly fair to say I’m rubber necking for the potential car crash (maybe it’s a combination of the two: A mubber tooth a neck car cracking flash?). Either way I have to admit, in spite of myself, somewhat through gritted teeth, I will continue to enjoy the spectacle that is Didier Drogba. I’ll just make sure I don’t let the regulars know.
And I love my local, warts n all.
Brett writes regularly for the Football United online fanzine, the most recent edition of which can be found here. He is also one half of Bifurcated MUFC, and can be castigated for his Drog-love on Twitter here: @HoldAndGive.