The Gospel According To St James Park (Pt III)
I wasn't immediately convinced - it was April 1 remember! But I knew it was coming. Have I not before received secret sacred texts on the subject of the Hallowed Gallowgate? Well here's the latest chunk from the Gospel According to St James.
"For where once a Shepherd led them, who was begat by Hall, now all was bleak, and Gallows humour did descend upon the Gate of Gallow and the faithful army of Toon did from their terraces traipse like men marching toward their own demise.
And the Lard Ashley, much fraught by false idols and the turning over of tables in the temples of International Trading, did look uponst his lowly flock (many of whom didst not now give a flock) and gravely did he stroke his 30 chins. And thus did he speak unto the Wise Man:
"Hath I not brought them great riches? Hath I not gifted them the Keegan and the Owen, the Butt and the Duff?"
"Aye, but they are all a bit duff. And truly, Lard, 'tis easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a roly-poly Cockney to win over the hearts of the Baa-baa Codes."
"Really, good Dennis?"
"Aye, for I'm not Jokin' 'Ere!"
"Peace be with him. But might I be ForGiven?"
"Perhaps - but then you floggeth him to Man City!"
"O-Ba-Femi's Sake!" cried the ailing Lard, and not one Geordie voice was raised in tribute, for hope was gone, and he didst ponder those that trod this road before him (without, it should be emphasised, ever winning bog-all either.)
And then he turned once more from the Shadow of the Valley of Debt.
For still one Saviour had not answered the call. He whose cupboard would groan to the weight of silverware were it not for the fact that a Geordie's roots are never severed. He whose cuffs and collars match not his shirts but woe betide the man that doth liken his fashion sense to Alex Higgins circa 1982. He who doth in voice and gesture contain all the charisma of a speak-your-weight machine.
And lo it did come to pass (and twas the first decent pass St James's had seen for about six months) that he that didst lie with the Lawro and the Hansen upon the Couch of Comfy Punditry, didst from his cushions rise. Aloft held he a goalscorer's arm and uponst the banks of the Tyne did gather the flock. For who better to tidy up the tatty sheep of Tyneside than he that is called Shearer. (Or if we return to his days of yore upon the battlefield - he that is called SHHHEEEEEEEEEAAAAAARRRRRR-EERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!)
And lo, didst he find the Owen and say unto him "Pick up thy physio's couch and walk" and Michael did so, and joy unconfined his knees held out for eight games (and still Capello went for James Beattie in his stead). And upon the Viduka did he place his healing hands and lo he was thin and lean and pacy.
And to the Duff did he go. And he didst say unto the Duff "Art thou a man or art thou Morten Gamst Pedersen?" and - oh grateful star - thus shamed, the lad stayed on his feet for a change.
And unto the Barton did he go, and forgave him his sins until the end of the season when he was sold to the False Prophet and saviour of prodigals Big Sam for an absolute snip.
And to the many mysterious beasts of the barcode, the Bassong and the Beye, the flailing Coloccini and the elusive Cacapa he didst have words of praise and succour.
And the Wise Man did jest: "Up here, there's a succour born ever minute!" And to the Wise Man did Shearer turn and thus he spake: "How, man, pack ya bags, bonny lad, we div'n need your sort round here, like."
And lo didst he say to his strikers: "Hast thou put nothing into the net? Then cast thy balls on the other side!" and hallelujah, the onion bags did bulge aplenty.
And the Army of Toon did rejoice, for the Shearer had changed their whines into slaughter.
But still the flock sat unsatisfied. "Though three points you have gleaned, oh Greatest Ever Geordie, yet how shall we survive on a mere 32 points? Even the Mackems have more!"
"Take of them points and break them amongst yourselves and lo, see how many they maketh compared to the Baggies and the Boro, who even poorer than us are."
But the crowd spoke once more.
"How canst we be sure of you, oh Chief Magpie - when so many have come and gone before you, 'tis less of a manager's seat and more of a public convenience with a revolving door uponst it?"
The Shearer raised up his single arm. "Nay, fear ye not. Though it appears we are between a Northern Rock and a Hard Place [the Championship] I shall within the year take you all towards the distant shores of the Europa!"
"How shall we get there?"
And spake the Shearer: "I shall walk. You lot take the ferry."
And so didst he finish his press conference thus: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is a good first eleven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall not be stroppy just cos the ref doesn't give them a pen. Blessed are the bleak: for they shall not inhibit their girth.
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall keep supporting a local club regardless of its cost to their souls. Blessed are the p***takers: for they shall be called the Army of Toon.
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for Newcastle's sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in a few years time - if the board don't get all itchy-footed and sack us after six matches. Ah, man!"
Let us pray.