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Bolton 1-0 Newcastle
by William Burroughs


Vicious, fruity old Bobby Robson is not pleased, he laboriously plucks cherries from an alabaster bowl, the physio emitting shrieks of pleasure as dogs rub their genitals against his pale European skin.

Bolton halt their rotten run of four straight league defeats and puncture pompous Newcastle's ever-congealing hopes of regaining fourth place with a slender, supple win at the Reebok stadium.

Henrik Pedersen's early goal proves the difference, but Bolton waltz with danger like an hysterical faggot pulling grubs from beneath his skin with infected tweezers. They also have goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to thank after a string of outstanding saves. Time and again, the gangly Finn erupts from his skin to pull the ball into his arms... the thought of fumbling the ball does not occur to Jaaskelainen, although he is not obliged to keep Bolton in the game single-handedly.

Pedersen ruthlessly exploits 18-year-old full-back Steven Taylor's mistake to lob Shay Given from an unlikely angle, the ball spurting over the line in a perfect arc, like the first ejaculation of semen from a Moroccan adolescent.

The rancid stench of spiritual vileness hangs over Sir Bobby's team, who squander their numerous chances to equalise.

After the game I wander into the steel enamel maze of the press box and ask to speak to the Newcastle boss... the secretary fixes me with a milky smile... all the while she is thinking of Nazis penetrating her borders and occupying her vacant libido.

"Mr Robson will see you now," she purrs. The old fruit is sitting down and his eyes are lustfully level with my own genitals.

"Hurrumph, you will do," he groans, his white hair flapping in a parody of wisdom."You know of course what we are trying. Champion's League. To adjust the team - simply a tool - to the needs of the greater good. To suppress individual errors."

But Robson cannot explain Pedersen - nor does he try to. The film replays as if in a dream. Chasing Simon Charlton's fictitious punt, Pedersen stops the impish Taylor from heading back to Shay Given before expelling the loose ball into the air from a narrow angle. The ball clears the clownish Given, bouncing high into the top left-hand corner. The crowd applauds. Caesar rises from the ashes, his thumb erect in a burlesque of appreciation.

Green grass turns black in a pink explosion of flashbulbs... the camera obscura replays the moment on a mammoth scale... lions tear into the flesh of Bellamy, Shearer... Lua Lua, away on loan to Portsmouth, shudders in mock ecstasy....





Charlton 1-2 Aston Villa
by Martin Amis


Before the match there is nothing. Nothing. There is not even silence. There is un-silence - the primordial noise of God sleeping and the sun frothing with angry atomic energy. And from the restless creation comes the sound of men crying. Yeah, full-grown men, sobbing like the babies that the century has abandoned. There is a sadness in their growls and cries and whimpers. A sadness that Alan Curbishley cannot cure.

Soon it will start. But first it must finish: a last-minute Claus Jensen penalty miss means that Aston Villa hold onto their lead and move level on points with Charlton.

Aston Villa start brightly, the ball fizzing between the players like an unexploded bomb. Gareth Barry saunters into the area, cocksure, arrogant, a punch-in-the-gut-if-you-look-at-me-funny. What the fuck you staring at? Fackin' nonce. He unleashes a stinging 25-yard drive that is turned round the post by Dean Kiely.

Against the run of play, like a tired Canute urging the tide to sleep, Carlton Cole heads the home side in front. South London erupts like a sore spot. The is venom in the air. These men work in factories, in pubs, in shady Croyden deals. There is pus in their skin, in the eyes. There is pus in their souls.

But these are tired men. There is no fight in them, only an atavistic urge to scream and bellow. They prowl the High Street in cheap tracksuits - they have seen too much: too many broken cars and stolen stereos. They have hardened themselves with women and alcohol Fuck it! Kick the fucker in the face! Villa equalise through Vassell.

Now there is nothing once more. An undoing is occuring. Samuel approaches the home goal. The crowd exhales fatalistically. He scores. There is no disappointment, only acceptance that life is broken bones and abortions, keys scratched along car doors and kids growing up to resent you. It's over.

Or is it? Is God just taking the piss? Do you wonder if God likes these jokes? Or if he wants to stop... wait, gather himself and start again. No. It's too late.

Jensen's penalty is a coda to an old, sad song. We know the melody. We know how it all finishes. He balloons the shot over the bar.



"woof... woof"




Birmingham 4-1 Leeds
by Julie Burchill


It gets to this time of year when friends - people I would normally consider intelligent people - start blathering on to me about good football matches. I roll my eyes like a yokel - I have heard this story before, during my second marriage. Me and the-now-ex-husband always had the same argument at the start of every football season: I'd have to explain to the-now-ex-husband that there is no such thing as a good football match! As every free-thinking person knows (that included you wooly-eyed liberals) there is no such thing as good or bad football! There's only football.

You can't call a football match "good" or "bad" any more than you can call an opera "good" or "bad". Football is a game. And it's fun. And to disagree with me is to exhibit the kind of half-arsed snobbery that has marginalised the white working-classes for the last 30 years. Football is real. A game of football has more drama, more twists and more thrilling denouments than the works of Shakespeare - or Jillie Cooper, for that matter. It's more real than the serious dramas that get the critics worked into a frenzy on the broadsheet.

We are hotwired to enjoy football, just as gay men are hotwired into adultery. We once-closeted-football fans should stop blushing and looking away when Match of the Day or The Premiership comes on and just face facts. I am always having to explain to my friend Angela why I love football:

a) I grew up in probably the last time and place, the 1970s working class, when you could just enjoy something without socially deconstructing it. I like football. So sue me!

b) I am happy with myself! Unlike so many women, I have no concern that liking football will make me appear macho or unwomanly. I know I'm womanly. I don't need the approval of a group of testosterone-fuelled new lads in the pub. I am more women than most of them could handle.

c) Birmingham can beat Leeds 4-1. I do like Leeds, but they need to look at themselves. Why can't Leeds be a little more like me? Even my most hardened foes - and there are plenty - would admit that I would never capitulate after going a goal ahead after five minutes.