1 March ~ All red, white and blue-blooded English football fans last week must have been bloated with empathy at the latest dilemma faced by Fabio Capello’s perennial substitute field kicker, David Beckham. The lad and his ironically posh missus have got themselves an invite to the wedding of the century, only to discover that, what do you know, it clashes with the Major League Soccer season. Inconveniently, William Windsor’s marriage to Kate Middleton takes place on the same weekend that the Los Angeles Galaxy travel to Pizza Hut Park in Texas to take on FC Dallas. Now why did no one think about that earlier?
“It is a huge thing for our country to have a royal wedding,” said Beckham, continuing his lifelong quest to be the most-quoted individual in a future book entitled Things Your Grandma Said. “I am a big royal fan and have always loved the royal family.” Gawd bless him. Unfortunately, though, we will “have to wait and see” if he can go or not. Right now he’s “just concentrating on getting ready and having a good season”. If “good” sounds a little understated, it’s worth remembering that so far in MLS Beckham has played four seasons that at best would be described as unremarkable, so a “good” year would be a considerable upgrade.
The good news for the royally excited is that Becks will almost certainly be there. The wedding is on a Friday, but Dallas v LA doesn’t kick off until Sunday evening, so there’s more than enough time to be seen in London, offer his congratulations to the newly weds (“Victoria, the boys and myself would just like to wish you all the very best for the future”), then tear off his tux to reveal the pristine white of the Galaxy home shirt as he makes a dramatic cab ride to Heathrow.
Given that his team has so far been more than lenient in letting him bunk off to star for England’s bench, knacker himself for Milan, eat pie and mash with surly king ‘Arry Redknapp, and help England gloriously win hosting rights to the 2018 World Cup, they surely won’t care if he shows his brandsome face at a globally televised non-event. As someone at league HQ will almost certainly say: “It’s all good publicity for MLS.”
And they’d be right to let him go, because top players hobnobbing with the aristocracy makes perfect sense when you look at all the things they have in common. Neither the royals nor football players make any substantial contribution to the benefit of society, and yet both are hailed, revered and acclaimed on a regular basis as though they actually do. Both have hugely inflated opinions of their own importance, as well as scads more money than they need, but which they generally waste (although at least most football players pay tax). When they speak, they rarely say anything of depth, and give the impression that they belong to a world of self-entitlement entirely cut off from reality. In-breeding is fashionable in both circles. And finally, if Buckingham Palace was razed to the ground and the Premier League was abolished tomorrow, it’s arguable that for the vast majority of people life would continue much as before, possibly even for the better.
Unfortunately, Britain missed its historical opportunities to cut off the heads of the unjustifiably elite, so with regard to the aristocracy it looks like we’re stuck with these human parodies for good. Overthrowing the Premier League is just as improbable. Therefore young Britons will continue to grow up with dreams of marrying a prince, or becoming a vastly overpaid sportsman renowned for advancing a round ball into pertinent spaces.
Older people can have dreams too, though. Mine is of a series of nationally co-ordinated pitch invasions, after which fans seize control of the top flight clubs, impound the players’ incomes, and use the cash to support the game at all levels, while allowing the players to continue performing provided that they become fully useful members of the community. In the meantime, let David go to the wedding. It’s exactly where he belongs. Ian Plenderleith