Published: 18 November, 2016
by RICHARD OSLEY
IMAGINE being a Leicester City fan and repeatedly hearing: 2016 can do one.
This annus horribilis for the world has been written off by a lot of us – certainly your mate on Facebook posting YouTube videos of Leonard Cohen’s poetic grumbles last week – as a Doomsday 12 months due to the horror of war, the rise of extremism, the death of one or more of your favourite celebrities and the fact the Olympics weren’t in London and therefore, by default, can’t have been as good as when we hosted it.
Dare any Leicester supporters now say, as the collective gloom sets in, that they thought 2016 was actually a great year, the best of their lives in fact? Dwarfed by the enormity of world events it’s almost been forgotten how touched we were by the underdogs’ Premier League triumph back in May. Their championship win was an unthinkable moment of joy in what is normally a financially-doped contest, and not just because it deprived Tottenham of a major trophy; their wait for which, just sayin’, reached its 25th anniversary this year.
In fact, it needed Jamie Vardy to score for England on Tuesday night to remind me who he was, and what he had achieved just a few months earlier. It was like a memory jog, the world having felt like it has spun a couple of speed cycles since he collected his unlikely championship medal.
Who’s this guy with the pointy chin, I thought, as England’s goalscorer celebrated his goal.
Vardy? Vardy! Oh yes, it’s coming back to me now, he was the one who suddenly scored lots of goals in one season – like Clive Allen at Spurs did, once – and then once Leicester had won the league, we hardly heard of him again.
Didn’t he have the chance to move to a big club?
And that is the sorry truth of the Leicester story. It was a brilliant tonic to football’s flabby money mountain world, but it was over in a flash and already feels like a history book yarn, a fable, an anomaly.
Some people have even gone from willing them on to thinking a lil’ club like Leicester shouldn’t get ideas beyond their station, taking their struggles this season as a reassuring thud that life might be reassuringly predictable after all. A way of getting control and order over the world.
In the rah-rah bars and members’ clubs across London, you can hear monied old puffins reciting that what the country needs is a stiff upper lip, a strong pound and a proper club winning the league again.
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