Oxblogger’s well deserved break in Somerset offered an opportunity to look at the national media reaction to Ronaldo’s return in Tuesday’s ‘prestige friendly’.
The hype surrounding the game was gutsy and sustained; the tabloids laboured the unmitigated danger that the Portuguese’s appearance would generate. Even the club got in on the act, Oxblogger saw the Yellows communications chappy Chris Williams in Sainsbury on Tuesday dressed as the ultimate Oxford United numpty in an official tie and one of those awful yellow wrist bands. He was juicing the minor celebrity he enjoys proudly telling a passing fan that he didn’t know which team ‘Sir Alex’ would be bringing down. I generally like Williams’ writing, and I think he’s a rare asset; but anyone who uses Ferguson’s stage name is clearly a little too wrapped up in the story, or a conspirator in it.
Soaked in the hype that surrounds all modern football, the fans responded appropriately buying the tickets and booing every ostentatious step over. He lashed in a couple of goals as the Us chased shadows. The response from the media was to portray Oxford fans as boorish morons, ignoring both the result and anything about the game itself. The booing was quite enough, apparently the club you support defines your class in society; those of us in the Cracks of Doom are hooligans and morons and those watching the Premiership are cosmopolitan metrosexual sophisticates who read Alain De Botton at half time.
I accept that if a journalist can create several stories from one lead (the build up, the game and the aftermath) then they will, but surely Oxford fans were simply willingly participating in the show. The audience participation is all part of the pantomime, if it wasn’t there it wouldn’t be what it claims to be. You don’t hear John Inman stopping a performance of Cinderella at the Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke because people keep shouting “Oh No You’re Not”.
So it came it went; perhaps £200,000 in the bank, but what else did Jim Smith learn from the exercise? We’re a couple of players away from playing in the Champions League perhaps?