Harry Potter & The Theatre of Dreams
Little Eric Remi Jesper Busby Choccy Charlton Jones lay in bed, waiting for his father to say goodnight.
A Pete Boyle CD played softly in the background, containing all his favourite terrace anthems. His Phil Jones curtains had been drawn.
“To keep the monsters away,” his dad joked as he ruffled his hair.
His bag was packed for school the next day. He had his Tom Cleverley pencil case, containing his Wayne Rooney rubber, Vidic pencil set and Van Persie fountain pen.
He snuggled up under his Ryan Giggs reversible duvet. His dad set the alarm on his Alex Ferguson clock.
“What time is it daddy?”
He looked at the clock.
“Anytime you want, son.”
“Can you read me a story please?”
“Of course I can son. Now, which one would you like? We’ve got Harry Potter and the Theatre of Dreams. Or maybe The Day Eric Cantona Saved The World. Or this one, Remi Moses: 1997 Annual ?
The little boy looked pensive for a moment.
“Harry Potter and The Theatre of Dreams please!”
“OK, son. Though I should point out for copyright reasons, there is no mention of Harry Potter or spells or Hogwarts or invisibility cloaks in this book. It’s full of magic though…”
He cleared his throat, and began……
Once upon a time, in a stadium far, far away….
The boy Potter entered the stadium, wide-eyed in amazement at the sights before him. His dad had managed to get him a ticket! They were like gold-dust, but thankfully his father had managed to get a couple off Bobby Charlton. What a nice man.
Fans hurried to their seats. Tourists took photos. Supporters threw down their pre-match noodles, thanks to Mamee, United’s official noodles partner for Asia, Oceania and the Middle East.
His dad took a long swig of the nectar-like liquid in the bottle in his hand.
“Hmm, nice,” said his dad. “The cool, refreshing taste of Singha, Manchester United’s official beer.”
“Here son, have a Mister Potato snack – they are the official savoury snack partner of Manchester United.”
“What time is it daddy?”
“It’s 3:52 and 30 seconds,” said his dad.
“That’s very precise dad!”
“I can be that precise, thanks to Bulova, United’s official timekeeping partner.” His dad shook his wrist to accentuate his shiny watch.
It was time to squeeze into their seats. Soon the game began. The passionate crowd swayed from side to side, the noise incredible. The opposition team looked petrified. It was an honour for them to be playing in this cathedral of football, but for now their only concern was repelling wave after wave of incessant attacks from the red-shirted heroes.
They couldn’t resist for long though. No one ever could.
Rio Ferdinand swept the ball majestically out of defence. It landed perfectly at the feet of Ryan Giggs. The crowd gasped in anticipation. You could hear a pin drop.
Giggsy shimmied inside, passed it to Clevs, who fizzed an inch-perfect pass to Wellsy, who back-heeled it to the rampaging “little pea”. He dinked a delightful reverse ball into the box, which was headed on by Roo. The crowd knew what was coming next.
He rose like a salmon. A manicured, tanned salmon, with gel in its gills. Some say he was on the edge of the area. Others say he was 30 yards out. Many will swear that on that fateful day, he headed the ball in from his own half.
The crowd rose as one. Cameras flashed, badges were kissed. The ball hit the back of the goal with such force that the netting was ripped from its moorings, the woodwork close to collapse.
The stadium announcer was close to tears.
Two minutes later, more of the same.
Ashley Young soared beautifully, ten feet into the air, before crashing back down to earth. A triple pike. Forward roll. Reverse somersault. Full salko.
Penalty. No doubt about that.
Rooney took the ball. The opposition keeper tried to save it, but he knew it was a futile gesture. 2-0.
The crowd rose as one to salute the best-player-in-the-world-except-Messi as he milked the adoration flowing down from the capacity crowd inside this majestic theatre of football.
The ball was zipped around the pitch with a mystical majesty. The opposition players couldn’t get close. They huffed and they puffed, but all in vain. They knew they couldn’t compete with this amazing collection of players. Some of them couldn’t even see the ball, such was the speed it was moved from player to player, from flank to flank. This was how the team always played, as it was in their DNA, part of their glorious history, some other guff, blah blah.
Wayne Rooney was given offside, and he joked with the linesman’s assistant as he politely enquired as to whether he thought he had made the correct decision. The linesman’s assistant replied that he thought he had, everyone laughed and continued about their business.
The United fans sang songs for the full 90 minutes, and for many hours after too. They were songs about their proud history, and their great players, and that night in Barcelona, and none about ManchesterCity because they were irrelevant and City fans sang songs about United on the rare occasion they made a noise because they were all obsessed and liars.
The vanquished manager David Moyes walked meekly into Sir Alex’s office. A glass of Chateauneuf du Pape awaited him.
“Sorry I am late, was just doing some interviews.”
“I don’t. They disrespected me once. Get that wee drink down ya, make the day feel a bit better.”
SIR Alex laughed heartily.
Moyes took a sip.
“You were magnificent today. We were lucky to only concede eight. You’re definitely the best team I have ever seen, you will dominate the game for many years to come. I also love the way you give youth a chance and play football in the right way. You are everything that is right about football.”
“Aye, that’s kind words indeed, We try our best. I like to stick to my Socialist principles.”
“I’m just glad we only have to play you twice a season!”
Both managers laughed until their noses went purple, and agreed that United really were the best team ever…
“David, I’m sorry I had to put your fine Everton team through such an ordeal. I need a wee favour though.”
“Anything sir. Just name it.”
“You see, I want to be remembered as the best.”
“No danger of that not being the case!” exclaimed Moyes, as he looked on with awe.
“Hold on, son. I want more than the trophies. I want my achievements to be realised AFTER I leave. For them to be rammed home to everyone, week by week. I want everyone to realise just how good I was and teach a few that are still here a damn good lesson.”
“I see. And how do I come into all of this?”
“Well, it’s funny you should say that. How do you fancy a change of scenery?”
And so it began…
Little Eric had a huge smile on his face.
“That’s a great story, dad. I hope I can play for United one day!”
His father forced a smile.
“To be honest son, that shouldn’t be too difficult…”
”So what happened after that. Did the legacy live on, like the big man Eamonn Holmes said?”
“Well that’s a story for another time son. Maybe when you’re a bit older, eh?”
The father kissed his son on his forehead and tucked him into bed. He would sleep well with his head full of tales of derring-do. As he slipped out of the room, he turned off the light. But as he went to put the book away, he felt the need to see what did happen after that.
He sat down in his favourite chair with a single malt and opened the book.
It had been a tough six months for David Moyes. Another Monday morning had drawn round and he had no intention of reading the papers after United’s gritty 1-1 draw at home to Hull City. Reluctantly he dragged himself out of bed and went downstairs. There was a solitary letter on the doormat.
He opened it tentatively. It was from Sir Alex Ferguson. His heart skipped a beat. There was no message, but simply a poem, on the finest quality paper. As he wandered, dazed, into the kitchen, he began to read.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait for three points and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look any good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream of 4th place—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think of winning a game—and not make thoughts of winning two your aim;
If you can meet with Young and Anderson
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the inspirational team-talks you’ve spoken
Twisted by the press to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your 6th place winnings
And risk it on one turn of cross-and-head,
And lose (of course), and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your losses;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your owners long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except Phil Neville who says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with dwindling crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Glazers—nor lose the common touch,
If neither City nor every other visiting team can hurt you,
If all men count the crosses with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving, depressing final minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and every sponsorship deal that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man United manager, my son!
David rested his head against the fridge door. A solitary tear rolled down his cheek and dropped to the floor.
With only the sound of the fridge buzzzing and his own heavy breath, he whispered;
“You b**ard Alex. You b***ard.”