Thursday, 1 January 2009



Kevin Keegan had barely enough time to get comfortable inside the dugout when Marvin, the pessimistic android, squeezed beside him to offer his enthusiastic support. Ignoring the depressed robot’s vote of confidence, Keegan stepped out on to the pitch to a scene no longer Hitchhiker’s but pure Hitchcock. An avian attack in waiting, hundreds of starved cynics perched on the seats of the main stand, claws freshly sharpened, all waiting silently for any false move so they could take to the sky and begin their savage assault on one of Newcastle United’s greatest players.

Success has been more comatose than the residents of Sleepy Hollow. It’s so sleepy, Freddy Krueger is rumoured to have sold his property on Elm Street and moved to Tyneside. Rare highlights include a semi-final appearance in the FA Cup during the 2004-05 season and runners-up in the Premier League way back in 1997. Now the Club is trying to achieve the impossible. Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins do Rocky. This may be the toughest fight of Keegan’s life but it also seems to have jolted the city out of its coma.

Whilst Keegan resembled the shy and reclusive Edward Scissorhands, the crowd for the FA Cup replay against Stoke at St. James’s Park had more than doubled. Hundreds were locked out, unable to buy a ticket; thousands had been reunited with their favourite passion. This is a man trying to start a new chapter in his life, a new chapter in the history of a Football Club that over the years has sunken slower than the Titanic.

It happens only in the movies. Kevin Keegan, Chairman Chris Mort and owner Mike Ashley shouldn’t be revered; they should be welcomed to their theatre of dreams with arms aloft, hugs all around, and a large bucket of popcorn. Even the third instalment of horror trilogy Final Destination cannot compare with the rollercoaster ride of this upcoming season. Already the arrival of former Leeds United boss Dennis Wise as executive director has added a greater twist than the ending of The Usual Suspects.

At long last a trophy cabinet more desolate than Fargo could be brimming with silverware and more importantly, the supporters, heedless of their team’s failings, will be entertained. Don’t expect it to raise a smile on Marvin’s face, but maybe on Big Sam’s.


Last Monday (January 28th) shoppers cheered as a £60 ticket was issued to an illegally parked £1 million Bugatti Veyron left in a loading bay in Manchester city centre.

Six months prior residents of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, were introduced to Vlad the Impaler and his blood red army of cruel Parking Attendants. The town had recently become decriminalised, existing traffic regulation orders now enforced by the council instead of the police.

It wasn’t long before residents swarmed all over the offices of the local newspaper to complain. Instead of reading The Highway Code they wrote angry letters glossing over the facts for sympathy.

One angry townsman believed that the local council had discovered an easy way to make money out of unsuspecting motorists. Another insisted the local council was trying to drive shoppers from their own town.

The latter included a moving story about buying their child her first pair of shoes. After driving around town for some time, ignoring the many car parks charging an extortionate 20 pence per hour they finally found a space disguised as a single yellow line. A sign post alongside it stated that no parking was permitted between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

Astonishingly, the address supplied alongside the letter was actually a five minute walk from the town, so why this parent was going to buy her daughter a pair of shoes when she would never get any use out of them was never really explained.

Other complaints followed when commuters travelling to London ignored a residents parking scheme introduced to an area surrounding the train station. Despite being in too much of a hurry to park sensibly the disgruntled commuters still found enough time to write angry letters aimed at Vlad and his band of merry men.

Other letters have noted that natives are allowed to park on double yellow lines if they live in the house opposing them because it’s their property and therefore they also own the road. These letters kindly offered advice, telling readers that by challenging fines with the line ‘but I have always done it’ should mean that they are rescinded.

Social networking sites on the Internet are throbbing with groups claiming to ‘hate’ parking attendants and not one applauds them like the shoppers of Manchester. It seems laughing at someone else’s misfortune is on a par with parking incorrectly and until this stupidity changes Vlad will happily continue with his legendary cruelty.

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