When Boro’ supporters hold a big flag with an arrow pointing to Newcastle United supporters underneath the slogan ‘Trophy Virgins’, what, exactly, are they trying to imply? That neither I, nor any of my fellow supporters, have ever attempted to engage in the act of copulation with one? Well, frankly, I should hope not. You know, they do ask for those things back at the end of the year.
This is not to say that trophy presentations wouldn’t be spruced up if, instead of the traditional arms aloft pose, the winning captain was invited to engage with the trinket on a more intimate basis; the type of basis that is usually precipitated by two and half bottles of shared wine and concluded with a flimsy and perfunctory text correspondence. Even so, though, I’m not sure any majesty would be lent to Cup final day if Gary Lineker was forced to hand over to the presentations only after a clear NSFW warning. And I imagine those ribbons get everywhere. If this is a radical shape up to the handing out of silverware being proposed then I’m afraid I will have to be lending a dissenting voice.
Crafty buggers, they may simply have been trading on that old schoolyard trick of saying the word ‘virgin’ and waiting to see who squirmed first. Certainly, my first response on seeing the banner was to go over, again, the night when my sister’s friend- who was well fit but who left for London with her family the next day meaning that neither I nor anybody else would ever see her again- came in to my bedroom in the middle of the night and we must have been at it for at least eight hours, and she was gasping and everything and then she let me touch her boobs and I’ve definitely done it now, so just shut up about it right?
An effective form of banter, to be sure: evoking childhood trauma (or in my case, evoking memories of saucy first time romps with the friends of my sister), in the hope of psyching us out. Next time we meet- will we ever again?- they should devise something around the theme of suspicious wet patches and that time we called the teacher ‘mam’.
What they surely cannot have been suggesting, contrary to what has been claimed by some unkind souls, is that Newcastle United never won a trophy. We have won far more than most clubs, and most of those clubs have won far more than Middlesbrough. They have won precisely one, a League Cup following a 2004 victory against Bolton Wanderers. You’ll have heard the stories from elderly relatives, I’m sure: the flat caps, the urchins smiling toothily, the almost full stadium. You can probably access the Pathe newsreel coverage at the National museum of football. In some circles, it’s still refereed to as ‘The Joseph Desire Job final’. Usually, clarification is sought from the other parties in the conversation as to what ‘The Joseph Desire Job final’ is in reference to. But once that administrative matter is smoothed, the reminiscing begins and just as anybody of a certain age can remember where they were when Kennedy was killed, so too can we all remember what we were watching on the other side when Middlesbrough won the league cup.
One Middlesbrough final I did watch was their 2006 European one against Sevillia. I even missed The Apprentice so I could catch the last twelve, goal packed, minutes. I remember being disappointed as I like to see all the North East clubs doing well- even the ones from outside the North East. But, hey, guys, nobody’s judging. They’re difficult, those ones, aren’t they, the European ones? Only the truly top clubs achieve anything in those, the likes of AC Milan and Newcastle United.