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This is a land of illusion

Words by Will Holdaway


What the fuck are we doing here? - Alex Reid

There really is no more profound a question. Even “Are we alone in the fucking universe?” comes up short. We’ve tried to answer it by invoking all-knowing, all-powerful Gods and Goddesses. We’ve tried to solve it with an evolving cycle of scientific observation and postulation, using ever more powerful equipment, bigger brains. And where have we got with it? Nowhere is where we’ve got. You could even argue that we’ve gone backwards – that our every inquiry into the purpose of our being reveals fresh and more convincing evidence of its purposelessness. So why shouldn’t Alex Reid throw it out to the Oldham Athletic players before training on Christmas morning given that everyone else in history who’s had a go has flunked it?

Socrates strips off in frustration after flunking it

Digital natives

The modern digital native among you might claim that Alex Reid was not driving at anything so deep. Digital natives generate affirmation and approval in the form of likes and shares online. It's an important part of their sense of self-worth, and by extension an important part of their mental wellbeing.

In Reid's case, he was just joining in the conversation by drawing attention to himself without necessarily having anything to say.

I found one of Reid's followers on Instagram, just to get a random sample of the behaviour and activity to which Reid is routinely exposed. This person also follows Reid. He got up on Christmas morning with a strict schedule of filming ahead of him. First, he and his partner got up and did their hair and make-up, and dressed in matching onesies. They then got back into bed and filmed themselves waking up.

Other vignettes of their day include them opening presents by the tree. They were very keen to make sure that the branding was visible. They posed with glasses of champagne (there's no footage of them actually drinking it). They had Christmas dinner with family (no evidence of actual eating). Everyone looks like they're in an advert, which I suppose is what it is. I was astonished by the 3k likes, but what do I know?

This is the conversation that Alex Reid was seeking to enter with his little video of the dressing room. All Alex Reid needed was for his people to find it amusing that he was at work on Christmas morning, which meant being in a stark-looking changing room with a bunch of blokes in tracksuits. He needed his followers to click the like button so that he felt good about himself. PMSL. LOLZ.


Yer da

Yer da was neither sympathetic nor philosophical. His reaction over Christmas dinner was emphatic. Wearing a paper hat with a little tear in it to accommodate his big fat head, he used his tongue to chase a half-chewed sprout up between his gum and his cheek before addressing his gathered family thus: “He’s a stupid prick. He’s in the dressing room getting ready for training before the club’s most-important game of the season, which is the next one, as it always is. His teammates are trying to focus on the job and he’s acting like an attention-seeking 15-year-old filming everyone before PE outside in the rain so that he can send the video to the pretty girls he hangs around with. He does it every week like it’s not a thing and the lads who don’t like it are forced to play along, and all for the amusement of his ninny friends on Instatok.”


Yer da was really hitting his stride at that point, feeling the anger well up through his massive red face, but in a controlled way, which is unusual for him. You didn't feel threatened even though you had to sway your head out of the way a couple of times as he jabbed and waved his knife and fork about.

He continued: “Never mind messing around with the dressing room karma, whose equilibrium is sacred. He’s lucky to be in this position. Plenty of lads who’ll be paying good money to travel to Hartlepool following him would give their eye teeth just to wear the training kit in that changing room on Christmas morning. They’d happily swap a turkey dinner with the family to gear up to right the wrong of another home defeat. We’re 11th in the league and treading water. He needs to put his fucking phone away and do his fucking job.”


When your da had finished, the rest of you sat there in reverent silence. Nothing was heard for hours afterwards bar the clinking of cutlery and crockery and yer da cracking into cans. You saw yer ma gently cup his elbow with her hand just before he fell asleep at the table. You wondered why she didn't do that much, much earlier.


Where do we go from wherever we are?

As far as I know, Chris Killen holds the record for the worst thing an Oldham player has done, and a literal killer played up top for us 55 times. Interestingly, the Killen tale, which has gotten longer in the telling over the years and is now an outright pack of lies, has the football scandal ingredients of another era (footballer, booze, women, the wee small hours, a petrol station, rozzers). What Alex Reid has done is nowhere near it. It’s an offence characterised by mildness and almost pathetic harmlessness. The rozzers were not called. The club secretary did not call in a favour from the chief constable.

I’d like Reid to stay. He’s got pace and guile and finishing. Josh Stones is going back to Wigan unless Frank has wifi and his bank card with him in the middle of the Atlantic, so Reid could yet have a very big part to play in our season. Mellon seems like a reasonable bloke, so I assume he’s said that Reid can take all the selfies he likes right after he’s personally brought us back from 2-0 down with a last-minute hat-trick to win a league. Even then, Reid would be wise to stick to nothing more engaging than “Great win. On to the next one Xxx” for the caption. That said, the transfer window is about to open, and Kidderminster Harriers might well be on the lookout for a centre-forward-cum-content-creator.

What of Harrison “I’d rather be in the pub” McGahey? He’s playing along with an unfunny joke right? If we condemn young men for doing that in the workplace, what the fuck are we doing here? No. McGahey comes back no problem. Then again, I wouldn’t mind at all if Scunthorpe United are monitoring the situation given that a lack of pace and craft in both midfield and defence is less of a problem at their level.


What the fuck are we doing here?

Off-pitch shenanigans are terrific for this blog, not least because we’re boring the arse off of everyone as per at football. We’re 10th after this week’s fixtures just like we were in 10th before them. One day, probably under Mellon, we’ll get to ninth and maybe even beyond that. This monkey-hanger double-header should yield six points, which would make this Christmas better than many, although six points from nine is still a kick in the tits from so-called Santa Claus. Anything less than six from nine is Santa pissing down our chimney while Alex Reid films it for the amusement of his tittering ninnies.


What the fuck are we doing here? We’re keeping the faith, putting our phones away and giving the monkey-hangers what for. Mystery solved.

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