‘TheHardTackle Satire’ is a semi-regular column which takes potshots at anything and anyone even remotely associated with football. With no pretensions about wanting to be taken seriously, ‘TheHardTackle Satire’ parodies, lampoons and jests at the people who make the beautiful game tick – both on and off the field.
Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge wore a deserted look on Wednesday. But beneath the hulking mass of the stadium and arguably the best maintained pitch in all of London, there was considerable activity.
The Blues’ beleaguered captain John Terry had just been whisked into the stadium’s secret underground lair in the dead of the night. With the FA having dished out a four match ban and Terry choosing not to file an appeal, it was inevitable the club itself would seek to impose its own punishment on him. But a secret?
John Terry felt the cold breeze of the night whip across his face, as a steward escorted him out of the car down a flight of stairs that seemingly appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the field. Terry wondered if this was what Drogba kept stumbling on. He also wondered if he could add this to the “unofficial” tours of Stamford Bridge he was famous for organizing.
The steward nodded curtly at the captain without saying a word, before pointing him down a pathway, at the end of which was a door.
Terry gingerly made his way down the pathway and knocked politely before opening the door himself. It was an unlit room that greeted him. Squinting his eyes he could make out an empty chair facing a desk and after a moment’s hesitation he took the seat.
As he did, the light came on. The source was a single light bulb dangling from the ceiling just above his seat. A tall figure walked towards the seated Terry from across the room and sat at the table, staring directly at John.
“Do you know who I am?” he growled. As the man’s face became visible, Terry was stunned.
“Oh wow…Morpheus!” Terry gasped.
“What?” said the man seemingly a bit taken aback at not being recognized. “I’m Michael Emenalo” he thundered.
“Oh wow… Emenalo!” Terry gasped again even though it was obvious he had no idea who it was.
Emenalo saw right through it and decided to swallow his pride and introduce himself to the captain. “I’m Michael Emenalo, the Technical Director of Chelsea FC. Ring a bell?”.
“Oooh fancy title!” John Terry offered helpfully. “What does a Technical Director do?”
“Technically, nothing” Emenalo admitted “…although my earlier role was to stand behind Ancelotti pretending to observe the game”
Terry experienced a sense of deja vu “I think I remember you now. Though I must say I had no idea back then you had an actual role to perform”
Emenalo seemed peeved at that. “Why did you think Abramovich hired me then?”
Terry shrugged his shoulders and muttered “I heard he had to give you a job ‘cos you had possession of an embarrassing video of him.”
Emenalo, whose resume consists of a blank sheet of paper with ‘please turn over’ written on both sides, had to admit that sounded like a much more plausible theory.
Emenalo swiveled about in his chair, before telling Terry the reason he was called in for a meeting.
“The club has decided your actions are deserving of punishment. But since you’re a legend at this club, any punishment meted out will have to be secret, delicately handled and behind closed doors”.
Terry’s eyes lit up. “I see” he chuckled as he winked at Emenalo.
Emenalo was having none of it “I’m sorry. Why’d you wink at me?”
Terry grinned knowingly “C’mon..secret punishment, delicately handled, behind closed doors… I think I know exactly where this is going” as he winked again.
Emenalo looked puzzled, “I’m not sure I understand the humor in this whole situation, but you’re looking at 3 months without pay. You’re looking at much worse unless you can make the case to Abramovich and find someone who can vouch for you”.
Terry was crestfallen. He’d naturally presumed all that talk about secret punishments behind closed doors handled delicately was Chelsea code for a steamy S&M session with girls in leather whipping him for having been a bad boy.
When he finally shook off his pangs of disappointment, he asked if he could ask Ashley Cole to deliver a passionate defense of him. Emenalo was having none of it “Ashley’s tied up with issues of his own. Someone accidentally shot the Mauritanian president, and all blame’s fallen on him”
“But Ashley wasn’t even on the same continent!” Terry protested.
Emenalo nodded sympathetically but added “The Mauritanians say they don’t know of anyone else on this planet who would shoot an air rifle just for the heck of it. He’s like their only suspect.”
“Is there anyone else who can speak for me?” Terry enquired.
Emenalo thought for a while before pondering aloud, “There’s Roy Hodgson, but he isn’t the kind who can state his opinion confidently and with authority in a boardroom with Roman Abramovich.”
“How about we put them both on a train?” Terry countered.
The sound of a cellphone ringing shattered the silence of the room. Michael Emenalo indicated he wanted a moment’s privacy, and stepped out.
Terry, who had developed a keen sense of hearing having taught himself to be alert to husbands arriving earlier than expected, could hear every word Emenalo said.
“Yes, Mr.Abramovich, he’s here… I understand…Should I tell him?… Yes, Sir… I understand”.
Terry gulped as Michael Emenalo walked in, dreading the worst.
Emenalo pursed his lips, and let the deafening silence linger for a while.
Unable to hide his anxiety, Terry blurted “What did he say? What did he say?”
Emenalo lowered his voice “Your punishment must be more severe.”
Terry seemed taken aback, “Wait a minute. Was that Abramovich on the phone? Or Bane? ”.
Emenalo ignored his question, continuing “The boss wants your pay docked for six months. He’s also made it clear there can be no more scandals.”
Terry was relieved, but tried not to show it. He couldn’t help but think it could’ve been much worse.
Emenalo wasn’t done though, “Roman wants it made clear, he’s got an especially horrible fate awaiting you if you cross him again. He talked of sending you to a desolate place devoid of hope, joy and a future. A place where those trapped cry out in anguish, often deliberately injuring themselves for long periods just to get away from their unrewarded back-breaking labor. A fortress of horrors”
Terry’s face went blank, “A Siberian gulag?”
Emenalo shook his head, and leaned across the table.