Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Jim the Sixth and First

One day Jim Jefferies was sitting in his office at Tynecastle when he received a strange e-mail. The Chelsea manager had just departed and Jim was being offered the job. But here’s the strange bit: Jim would be allowed to continue as Hearts manager as well.

Naturally, Jim would be expected to live in London – after all, Chelsea was a far bigger club than Hearts. Some of his junior assistants would be left running the Edinburgh team. Jim would be Hearts manager in name only. But hey, there’d been six Hearts managers called Jim and none at Chelsea.

Not all Chelsea fans were happy with the new Scots manager with all of his Scottish sidekicks and their funny accents. Indeed, a couple of years after Jim’s appointment a group of renegade fans tried to blow up Stamford Bridge, but fortunately they were apprehended in time by the groundsman. To this day, Chelsea fans celebrate this narrow escape by burning effigies of the renegade leader.

Several decades later there was a most unfortunate incident involving Jim’s successor. A mob of Arsenal fans literally tore the Chelsea man apart during a riot in Whitehall. Chelsea were expelled from the Premier League and Arsenal ruled the roost for a decade. But the people of London missed the old days and Chelsea were allowed to return. A workable compromise has emerged between the two clubs and today there is a bizarre ceremony every November in which the Chelsea manager is driven in his Bentley to the Emirates Stadium where he performs the ceremony of the “State Opening of the Season”.

Back in Edinburgh, not everyone was happy. Hearts fans had never fully accepted having an “absentee manager”. One day the club decided to take part in the Central American Cup that was to be held in Panama City. This turned out to be a disaster. Many Hearts players and fans succumbed to tropical diseases and some were beaten up by Spanish supporters. Hearts were financially ruined.

What would the Edinburgh club do? One day the Italian born wife of the French coach was seen in Gorgie Road. Were Hearts planning to join the French league? That would never be allowed by the English, would it?

The Chelsea board came up with a cunning plan. An offer that Hearts couldn’t refuse… The deal was that there’d be a merger: the creation of Hearts of Chelsea! Under this plan football would no longer be played in Edinburgh. The new, combined team would surely be a world-beater. Based in London, of course.

Despite the “merger”, fans at Stamford Bridge still called the team “Chelsea”. The full name was only to be seen on the notepaper. Many Hearts fans thought that they’d been conned. Back in Edinburgh, Tynecastle became some sort of law office, although tourists still came to stare at it and hear about its former role as a stadium.

Many years later some troublesome folk in Edinburgh began to demand the reintroduction of football in the city. Traditionalists wondered what that might lead to. Eventually, a son of Edinburgh took control of the Premier League down in London. Egged on by his Finance Director – you know, the one who was bad with numbers – the Premiership boss reluctantly agreed to allow the reintroduction of football in the Scottish “capital”. He assured people that this wouldn’t be a threat to real football. No, it would be more like a parish game.

Eventually, New Tynecastle was built by a controversial Catalan architect. On the site of a brewery. The roof of the main stand leaked initially but at least the traditional pies were available inside the unusually designed new stadium.

The first few managers of New Hearts were somewhat grey figures but the team was loyally supported by the locals. After eight years another, more colourful manager was appointed. Some cruel folk suggested that he might well have consumed some of those stadium pies himself. His assistant was said to come from the Ibrox area.

Under the club’s Articles of Association a managerial interview must be held every four years. The next interview will be in May and many fans are worried that the current incumbent may be replaced by another grey manager.

Or should I say “Gray”?

To be continued…

No comments: