Category Archives: novella

​A Day In The Life Of Stan Kroenke

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

Hands steepled together on fingertips, he leaned forward. The groan from the plush leather chair was the only noise in the room.


“So, does anyone have any ideas?”


The faces the question was aimed at, returned nothing but blank slates. Whether it was genuine unknowing or fear of suggesting something the Boss might not appreciate – was not known. Either way, there was no answer.


He stayed leaned forward, a signal that he was taking the lead on this issue.



“Just as I suspected. I’ve no idea why I still employ you. As usual, it will be my expert business acumen that will come to the rescue.”


Still, nothing from the ring of faces.


“You there. Go get me a muffin.”


The nondescript suited person that the Boss pointed at, hurriedly got to his feet and flew out of the door.


“Right. We are here because of my mind. It was I who dragged my teams to where they are today, and it will be I who keeps them there, at the top. Now, I have some ideas in regards to plans, and I want to know your thoughts.”


The horde of faces all nodded in unison.


The face that had been sent to grab a muffin burst through the door, red faced. He shuffled quickly to the Boss, and placed the plump muffin in front of him.


The Boss looked down at the bakery product, and said nothing. He simply gave one curt shake of his head, and the faces that ringed the enormous boardroom desk all massed together on the muffin-bringer. There were muffled noises, the window was opened, and then a swift movement saw the unlucky man hurled out of the window.


“I don’t like blueberry. Now, are we all ready?”


The mass all returned to their seats quickly.


The Boss stood up and began to walk around the desk ponderously, simultaneously speaking to them all and no one.


“KSE Group is at the pinnacle of sports entertainment. Colorado Rapids, the Avalanche in the NHL, the Nuggets in the NBA and the LA Rams in the NFL – they are all the biggest teams in their respective competitions. Thanks to KSE and our expert management of assets.”


No response from the men and women again, bar one woman at the back, who arced one eyebrow at this ludicrous statement. 


She continued her silence though.


“Now, with our hunting channel showing all the glory of the kill, we stand on the precipice of the next level of evolution for our teams. How can we combine the two?”


He continued his slow lap around the furniture and faces.


“Look around you on the walls. Do these animals who have been bested by my rifle not instill in you the thrill of destroying a life? Do they not give you the first seeds of an idea?”


The faces matched the rhino, lion, tiger, bald eagle and giraffe heads that adorned the room. Blank.


“I propose to install half-time shows in all games for my clubs. These shows will capture the glamour of hunting animals or the team mascot in front of spectators. One lucky fan who will be drawn at random, will be handed a gun and an animal will be set loose on the pitch. If they kill the animal in one shot, then they get to take home the carcass as a trophy!”


He wheeled around and awaited a response.


The faces all clapped furiously, desperately trying to curry favour. The woman with the raised eyebrow refrained from clapping. 


She instead raised her hand.


“Mr Kroenke, Sir.”


He turned to face her.


“Speak.”


She stood up slowly.


“Sir, You have a fantastic record in business, and it has nothing at all to do with the fact you were given limitless funds from your wife’s family. You have not dragged your purchased teams lower than they have ever been and making the Rams switch states was a stroke of genius rather than a brainless idea which ignored fans wishes. You have fantastic business sense.”


Stan waited for her to continue.


“I think though, Sir, that bloodsport combining with ACTUAL sport, might just be a little…..barbaric?”


Gasps rang around the room. How dare she question this man? He is beyond reproach!!!!


Stan lowered his head. He then spoke.


“Mary. May I call you Mary?”


Her name was Stephanie.


“Mary, I respect your cojones. You are the only one in years that has spoken in open defiance to my genius ideas. You deserve my respect.”


Stephanie visibly relaxed, shoulders lowering and she let out a deep sigh.


“However, you are wrong.”


Instantly, her chair erupted, driving her straight up toward the ceiling, where she met the concrete with a wet noise. For a second, she stayed up there, until she crumpled to the floor.


“Now, any more objections?”


Not even the slightest movement from the rest of the room.


“Ok, so it is settled. KSE will move sports forward with this excellent idea. We will usher in a new dawn of sport! Hunting in a wonderful duet with sport! The crazed support will want nothing more than a show of blood and death! It is the next step for fans! It is the next step for us!!”


Applause, and whoops of joy. KSE, after starting their hunting channel and facing an enormous backlash, had decided to go full throttle instead of showing refrain.


After all, there is nothing money cannot do. 

The Ties That Bind Us

Published in Goonersphere.

The once vibrant setting had lost its colour, and now the stark greys dominated his eyeline. Listless noises filtered to his ears, but he paid no heed.

Hands stuffed in pockets to shield from the unforgiving wind that buffeted around his surroundings, his body language was not solely due to the harsh weather though.

He had been warned by his friends that this was a destructive relationship, that it had been doomed for years. Blindness goes hand in hand gleefully with love though, and he had blundered on, ignorant of the perilous path he was taking.

He had invested his life into this hazardous duopoly, and the scars had begun to show. The hurt that currently enveloped him had transformed recently from the all-encompassing misery of years gone by, into something akin to the numbness you receive at the dentist. 

Were they aware of the pain they had caused? Why did he continue to plough on when on the horizon was the very real threat of sorrow? 

He lifted his head and sighed. 

It hadn’t been all bad. The very nature of his bind was down to the memories which he clasped to him. The adoration he exuded toward his beloved had bloomed in the perfect storm. Technicolour snapshots of happier times was the matinee which played through his mind when his brain sought escapism, and it normally was the ideal medicine which he was always keen to sup from.

Right now though, in the aftermath of another blowup, another stumble in the relationship, the montage of bliss did nothing to avert his mind from the darkest of clouds which would soon overrule all in his mind. 

The rocky terrain which his faith in their liaison now sat on was down to the series of moments his partner had disappointed him. They say it is the hope that kills you, and he had hoped it would change, but the destructive behavioural pattern had shown no sign of changing, until recently.

He had puffed his chest out and goaded the very friends who had denounced his affections. A few weeks ago, the relationship had been in the rudest of health. It appeared to the majority, even his doubting pals, that the habitual mistakes that had blighted their friends partner had been erased. 

That seemed so long ago as he stood in the same spot he had done for the past half an hour. He had ruminated on every second of the latest calamity, and as painful as it was, it had also served as an awakening. 

The fact that he would go into work and be the butt of the jokes, and be castigated for never learning, and how every weekend carried the ominous threat of ruination. It was the epitome of being a supporter.

The very word means ‘to support.’ Through the good times he had enjoyed, it was easy to declare your love for your chosen team. It was in recent years though, that had defined exactly what it meant to be a fan, a Gooner. If he even entertained the idea of cutting the ties which linked him and the club every time they struggled, then the ties weren’t strong enough to begin with.

He had angry thoughts and things he would like to change about the dynamic of the team, but he would never, ever stop supporting the club. 

They may be the root cause of many a lost weekend, arguments and pain, but when you choose a club, it is for life. There are some who wish ill on the very club they claim they support, but isn’t that an oxymoron, he pondered?

He could never even begin to think of hoping for a bad result, it just didn’t fit. He would go on and continue in the same vein of the last twenty or so years. He would look forward to next week and a victory.

A lady in a hi-viz jacket approached him, and said that the stadium was closing. He nodded and made his way down the concrete stairs. 

Next week may conceal another bout of anguish, but it also held the very tangible possibility of redemption, and the moment the ball hits the net from an Arsenal player – those seconds that your stomach lurches into your throat and you lose all sensibilities as you bounce around like a loon – were what makes these instances of gloom worth it.

He left the stadium with a little bit of hope again. 

The Museum of the Beautiful Game

Originally posted on Goonersphere

The inauspicious entrance offers no clue as to the treasures that await inside. 

The unremarkable automatic double doors silently allow you passage, and then, as if the buidling itself is taking a deep breath, the atrium yawns open ahead of you. The huge open space gives all who enter a plethora of choices as to where they begin their path to footballing enlightenment, but in the centre is a statue of one player. 

Perhaps the beacon, the standard bearer from where all technical brilliance begins – Johan Cruyff.

As you marvel at the icon before you, a tour guide offers you and your party a tablet and a set of headphones, which give each person extra information on each spectacle they are about to enjoy.

Then, the member of staff tells you to make your choice for where to begin your journey.

From left to right, all hallways which branch off from this wide open space are clearly labelled:

Ajax

Johan  Cruyff

French national teams of the ’80’s and ’90’s.

AC Milan

Real Madrid European Cup winning teams

Manchester United of 1999

George Best

Lionel Messi

Barcelona 2006-2016

’70’s and ’80’s Liverpool

Brazil 1970

Pele and Maradona

Zinedine Zidane

Arsenal 

Dennis Bergkamp

There were more, and the pole which signposted all choices looked like a confused person attempting to point in the right direction.

You walk toward your choice, and the plain white doors open, and your eyes widen.

In each room, when you enter, all that greets you is the darkest black your eyes could comprehend. As the doors close behind you, a slight panic tingles its way up your spine, but the noise that breaks the silence sweeps any negativity away.

A cacophony of cheering fills the room, and then, you are instantly put into the stands as a football match unfolds around you. Thanks to hologram technology, the fans that have popped up to envelop you make you feel as if you were there, as some of the most iconic and memorable moments of football occur right in front of you.

This museum gives all fans the opportunity to witness first hand – or as close as possible – football that refreshes the child-like wonder that all supporters have. Moments in time that have lived on thanks to the passing of stories between fans of all generations.

Some things aren’t meant to be forgotten. Some things are meant to be held up on the highest pedestal, as propaganda of sorts – to ensure that the root of football lives on.

The sport has changed immeasurably since it began, and it is now dominated by currency, but every now and then, something happens on the pitch which transports all who witness it back to their happiest memories.

Whichever choice you make in this museum, all the moments you care to choose are the finest, unblemished slices of the sport. Michel Platini bringing glory back to France. Jairzinho, Tostao and Pele in 1970 destroying their opposition with ingenuity. Ruud Gullit, Van Basten and Rijkaard reinventing not only AC Milan, but Dutch football. Dennis Bergkamp scoring his hat-trick Vs Leicester, and his World Cup goal Vs Argentina. 

So many instances where your breath gets caught in transit, as you first look on in wonder, and then query how it happened.

The control of the ball as it falls from the heavens, only for it to be put on an invisible leash by men that took the sport to the higher echelons.

Whilst the museum is built as an opportunity for all fans to enjoy what are pure, undiluted examples of the sport we all adore – it is also a tribute to the men who keep football alive. Modern day footballers who aspire to entertain like their heroes who they idolise.

So, take your seat in the holographic stand, as the hairs stand to attention on your arms, like they too want to catch a glimpse of what is about to unfold.

Thierry Henry and Robert Pires are about to kick off…..

The Return of the Shadow Dwellers Part 2

Originally posted on Goonersphere

The General rested on his haunches, his now spattered armour creaking as he bent. The scene which tortured his eyes was one of bedlam and violence. The very floor on which his hands now leaned on was saturated with blood – of who it belonged to was a mystery.

For both sides had suffered losses, and the liquid spilled could have been from either. Bodies littered his eyeline, but that was not the destination for his vision.

He looked to the horizon, to where the Haven of Four twinkled its seductive light. Then, just below, what remained of the savage horde of Shadow Dwellers – who had gotten past the General’s men and now were free to taint that holiest of ground.

By the Gods, they had failed.

Continue reading The Return of the Shadow Dwellers Part 2

The Lonely Walk

Sixty seconds.

In sixty seconds, you could be heralded as a hero, adored by millions. Your face will be etched permanently in memory, your name will be sung like legends in folk songs.

Or you could be forever synonymous with failure. When you are as close as you stand to glory – so bright you cannot comprehend its vision – to sink from this lofty position would result in a fall from grace so swift, you would always carry the mental scars.

You stand in the centre circle.  It is your turn.

Continue reading The Lonely Walk

The Shadow of Our Neighbours

Originally posted on Goonersphere

The boy ran. Carrying his peoples banner, he moved as swiftly as his beating heart would allow him. The message must be given to the General. He had the all-important job of relaying the message that would allow the good people of ‘The Cannon’ to raise defences and arrange an attack.

If he failed – then all would be lost.

The Shadow Dwellers had risen once more.

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Arsene Home Alone – Part 2, The Thrilling Conclusion!!!!

Part 1 can be found here.

If these criminals fought their way past the glue bibs, the frozen steps  and what lay in wait for them in the cellar, then they will deserve to get what they came for. It will show tremendous mental strength, thought Arsene. He finished rigging up the trap which lay in wait in the hallway which led to the kitchen – splintered science beakers found in Mathieu Flamini’s locker. Arsene took a second for a moment of pride at his resourcefulness – hewn from season after season of adapting a squad to fill a gap in personnel – and headed for the kitchen.

Meanwhile, the Spurs Bandits – Harry and Micky – had gotten to the stairs of the cellar which led to the upper hallway and nearer their ultimate destination. Unfortunately, the intrepid hero who had attempted to stem their progress thus far had taken to painting these steps with anti-climbing paint. This led to them shedding their footwear and socks on each step, one at a time. Now barefoot, only two steps remained but these were a great struggle as the sticky stuff attempted to tear off the soles of their feet on each point of contact.

They eventually reached the top, bereft of footwear. Harry, sensing his friend was growing frustrated, tried to lighten his mood, in his own inimitable way.

” Spurs Bandits, right Micky? ”

Continue reading Arsene Home Alone – Part 2, The Thrilling Conclusion!!!!

Home Alone – With An Arsenal Twist Part 1.

Posted on Goonersphere

The last of the throaty exhausts spewed its noise past the security bollard which marked the sole entrance and exit to the sprawling London Colney Training ground. One by one, the Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s and  Bentley’s had left the car park until one car remained.

Arsene, still in his training gear but currently adding his usual well padded coat into the mix, walked over to the now departing security guard. Jimmy was new to the staff roll at Colney but Arsene still made the effort to hand him his Christmas card and bonus personally.

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Jimmy greeted the Arsenal boss with a sheepish look and a curt nod of gratitude. Guilt was now overriding any thought of his impending financial gain. Jimmy took to his waiting cab with a quick look back at the man who had just given him a gift. Arsene was at the main door and as usual, the last person to leave the complex.

It was meant to be a simple transaction and seeing as he was new to the job, he was meant to have no emotional ties to the people who worked there. All he was asked to do by this anonymous person was to leave the alarm codes by the unlocked security desk. Payment was wired promptly to his account and everything was going swimmingly – until he had been handed his ill-deserved bonus by the man who would be hurt deeply by tonight’s nefarious plans.

It’ll be fine, he told himself as the cab snaked its way toward the airport through the holiday traffic and dusting of snow. I can forget about it whilst sunning myself on a beach somewhere halfway across the world.

He knew though, that guilt would be packed in his suitcase.

Continue reading Home Alone – With An Arsenal Twist Part 1.

The Blatter Siege

Sitting in front of the plethora of media microphones, he could feel the uprising of a potential sweat. Whether originating from the raft of dazzling spotlights or the impending address he was about to give, one thing was for certain – his shirt was about to take the strain from an overweight mans sweat glands.

The faces that met his gaze were all from various media sources. Newspaper, digital, TV. No matter where they worked though, they were still all scavengers. Picking apart carrion left by bigger game such as himself. He kept in his sneer. They wouldn’t destroy his proudest moment – in fact, they would only enhance it. The worlds focus would be on him – finally – as they all joined to embrace the world leader of football. His leadership had revitalised the sport and this speech was only the start of the love-in. Honours from royalty, acknowledgments from countries and heads of state, his presence would wash all over the globe, he would bathe in the adulation, drink in the……

“Mr Blatter Sir………Sir?!!!”

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Yaya Toure’s Disenchantment

Sigh……

His eyes opened to the same scene. The four poster bed gilded with goldleaf. The bedroom French windows that open out onto the extravagant swimming pool. His beautiful wife who was contently sleeping next to him.

The same thing, repeatedly, day after day. Slowly suffocating him.

He rose from his plush surroundings silently, only a sigh breaking the tranquility. He encased himself in the giant shower and let the roaring water attempt to wash away the disenchantment he felt. After what seemed like five minutes but what was actually an hour, he slid open the ornate doors and dragged himself to his cavernous closet, which housed a fantastic collection of the finest clothes. A layman may have been aghast at the sheer choice on show, but Yaya merely picked what was directly meeting his gaze, this time a pair of linen trousers and a neutral coloured shirt. Slipping on a pair of loafers made with leather so soft they would be coveted by ninjas for more covert operations, he made his way to the kitchen to make some breakfast. Today would be a big day.

Continue reading Yaya Toure’s Disenchantment