Spud Watch – The Lay of the Land: Part 1

Happy New Year or Omman Pad Ooooome, Harree Kriisshna, Agnus Dei, Hosana in the Highest. I don’t know what Jewish people chant, probably anything by Carole King. A wise avuncular man I once met on the bus to the nut-house once told me that true happiness is achieved through acceptance. Does he mean I should remain passive? Or as Henry Miller suggests that we are all anchored, then how can we be going anywhere? Whether you’re a Muslim, a Protestant, a Jew, a Catholic, a Hindu; we are all just particles colliding off other particles like the ball in Super Cup Football.

I have decided to become a best of religions, a religion’s Greatest Hits. Like one of those Megajoy computers that could play all the Nintendo, Sega and Atari games at the same time. It was backwardly compatible so it could play them all. You could only get them in that shop on Talbot Street that sold Samurai swords and where the lad bought Gizmo in the first Gremlins film. I digress.

Protestants have great hymns and tremendous sing-songs. Songs of Praise fills the gap that Top of the Pops vacated. Also, I now have a passion for Mass. I’ve been downloading the best of Mass off the internet, remembering the happy times I had there as a child. Praying for the priest to hurry up talking during his sermons so I could get home to see the tail end of Highway to Heaven ( just the music is all I ever wanted. Doodda dooo. Dood da doooo dooda dooooo.)

A middle-aged man, Michael Landin, picks up another man, Victor French and they go looking for spiritual happiness. It sounds like a Crime Watch re-enactment but it was great telly on a Sunday when alls you had was two channels, a bag of cola bottles, and a sour bottle of Yop to help you forget that it was 1987. I digress.

The times they are a changing. I’ve met lots of colourful character since our last Spud Watch outing; Namubu the Nigerian taxi-driver who wants to make cartoons. Jiku the Pakastani chap with dreams of being a camera man (porn director) who wears sun glasses indoors and is really good with women in his own head, Payat the Korean man who is tremendous company despite having only seven words of English. It’s got me thinking, about religion.

Giovanni Trapattoni is a lucky guy and he is a Catholic so maybe the Catholics are right. But some of the wealthiest and most successful people in the world are the Jewish which means they make good decision, so only a fool would back against their faith.

I’ve decided I am going to pray to all of them at once, a general god, who doesn’t alienate any one religious order. So at least when the Muslim or Protestant god is waiting with a rolling pin when I arrive at the gates of Heaven like the African-American nanny off Tom and Jerry, he can’t say I was completely against him. If the Mormons are right, I don’t think I want to go to heaven then. It’ll be like getting stuck talking to your mentally-ill aunt at a wedding.

So what is the point of all my ecclesiastical ramblings? Well in something approaching a Clinton-Lewinsky reproach, a chide, a reprimand, I have decided to rebuke myself and, through the exorcism of admission of wrong-doing like Frost-Nixon, I hope that I can be exalted to a divine place, a Zen-like state.

I was wrong, so wrong. I doubted Trapattoni. I was wrong. Spud Watch was wrong, very wrong and I now believe that Nirvana is coming to us all this summer.

In the words of George Harrison, the Spud Watch Euro 2012 mantra:

“We don’t need no full backs,

We don’t need no midfield,

We don’t need no lads playing regularly in the Premiership to know the state that we’re in,

You open up your heart and you’ll know what I mean

Chant in the name of Trap and you’ll be free

Greece 2004 is awaiting on us all , you wait and see…

I got it wrong, all wrong. I join a long list of people who were mistaken; Nostradamus, Mark Lawrenson, Foster and Allen. Spud Watch was so very wrong. We are heading for bliss this summer. Out of nowhere has emerged James McClean, the most exciting young player since I got overly carried away last time out with Seamy Coleman and before that Thomas Butler (he’s 30 now, the poor bastard).

We’re heading for glorious times. Arguably we are the most disgusting team to watch since Greece 2004 but last time I checked Greece still have their medals and you don’t win prizes for looking good. That’s why Glenda Gilson doesn’t get TV gigs outside of Xposé or Johnny Ronan’s home videos.

But if you’re well set up and you’ve got a wily manager, then you have every chance. Look at Argentina at the last World Cup. Probably the best team of individuals overall, even better than Spain, but with the coke-fuelled fat controller running the show they still won nothing. Now I’m not saying we are definitely going to win this tournament nor am I a betting man, but I would suggest that you definitely put all your money on us getting to the semi-finals. Maybe put a double on Shane Long being top scorer.

Now I know what you’re thinking; how does this genius know all this? Well you just have to trust me on this one. My track record speaks for itself, although the keen eye among you will see that only 15 sentences ago I was apologising for getting it wrong before, but that’s water under the bridge now. You have to trust me on this one. I have trust in Trapatonni. Trapatonni knows. He has seen it all before. F*cked over when at the helm of the Italian national team, he was there. At club football with Juventus, he was there. When Jesus J got crucified by Randy Savage in Royal Rumble 1, Trap was there. He was there with teams before and he has lived and gleaned from experience.

James McClean is the greatest thing to happen in my life since gin and antidepressants. He’s arrived out of nowhere and lit up my world and is the best thing to happen to this shower since Bella the hooker set up shop in Dublin 8. Remember Damien Duff’s form going into 2002? This time 10 years ago? James McClean is approaching this. We don’t have a Roy Keane this time round, and ultimately we didn’t back then either for reasons I won’t go into here because my editor is holding a gun to my head. If Trapattoni incorporates him into the squad in time then we are in for glory. Either way I am laughing as I am moving to Dublin 8 for the Euros.

The times they are a changin…

Yes things have changed, I now find myself nervously checking Stoke City’s match reports in the hope that Glenn Whelan has got through unscathed, with his cruciate still intact. I have recurring dreams where he gets injured before the Euros.

A far cry from last year, where I prayed for pianos to drop on him. I was once a sleuth on the hunt to pick up on Glenn’s shortcomings. I have changed following my 6-month retreat in the Maharishi camp (Ballyfermot College of higher methadone dosage), those miserable days of vapid, insipid sex with vulpine strangers besmirching my esteem like knob-rot on a cold day down the gentleman’s bathhouse.

This has opened my eyes to the world. There are many ways to skin a cat (or dog, according to my Korean friend Payat ), and Trapattoni has won me over. I am a believer. I now believe in what he is doing. I believe we are going to do extremely well now. I have a blind faith in him. A man can have faith in God with little or no evidence and my belief in Trapattoni is founded on the same, if not more, evidence. Jesus may have risen after three days being glued to the cross but he never came second in a group with Sean St. Ledger on his team.

Our team is now more than the sum of our parts, parts which at times seem as if they have been plundered from the original Model-T (St. Ledger, Andrews, Whelan, Gibson.)

But there isn’t one player that isn’t motivated to 100%. And this in itself is perhaps Trapattoni’s greatest achievement, his ability to motivate dross and make them believe they are so much better than they actually are. The cadence and inflection of his Italian gibberish has the same effect on the players as taking 10 yokes (good yokes now, those ones with the sharks on them).

And if you go into a tournament with all your players yoked of their heads (metaphorically, not like Gazza) then you have a chance. That’s the one great trait of Irish people, that we are thick-headed and idiotically insular in our thinking. We get notions and find it hard to deviate from them, so when we are fooled into thinking we are better than we are, then who’s going beat us? Our mentality, that drooling gibberish I once thought he spoke, well there’s method behind his madness.

We all use to hate that little Indian boy in Captain Planet. All the others had great powers, like Wind, Water, Earth, Fire, and that Indian boy’s power was “Heart”. Now, after a stint in the Maharishi, I’m beginning to believe that “Heart” was the greatest power of them all.

On an unrelated note, it’s good to see George Hamilton back healthy and working again.

It’s ironic that the man who caused so many heart attacks should have heart trouble of his own. Welcome back George. Gabriel Egan, who frequently turned my bowels to liquid with his harrowing commentary, will now return to the radio where he’s still the best laxative on the market.

Spud Watch – The Lay of the Land – Part 2 coming next week

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