Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mrs Angry: Sports Correspondent

news reaches Underhill that Mrs Angry has written a post about football

Mrs Angry must make one thing very clear.

She is not interested in sport.

She loathes and detests sport, in fact. Doing it, watching it, hearing people talk about it. She hates the horrible clothes people wear when they do it, and the faces they make, and the endless discussion about it afterwards.

In Mrs Angry's view, all sport is inherently evil, and brings out the worst qualities in participants and spectators alike: the sporting instinct is, quite simply, war and showing off dressed up in lycra. Sport goes on a lot longer than most wars too: well, ok the Hundred Years War went on a bit, but the Olympics have lasted longer, haven't they? See?

Mrs Angry hates all forms of sport equally, without discrimination: football, athletics, cricket, tennis, hockey, volleyball, rounders ... true, she has watched a few games of rugby when Ireland is playing, but only because of Ronan O'Gara. True, she quite likes the idea of cricket,the sound of leather on willow and all that, and teatime in the pavilion, and men in white trousers in the late afternoon sun, but only as long as she doesn't have to watch it.

The other evening, funnily enough, Mrs Angry had to attend her daughter's parents' evening at her old school. Sitting in the school hall, and avoiding the beady eye of the headteacher who had just sat in a media studies lesson and discovered that Miss Angry's mother was the infamous Mrs Angry who wrote a scurrilous blogpost about her old school (oops), she pointed out to a disapproving Miss Angry the gym cupboard where her mother used to try to pass all her PE lessons, cowering in the dark, in a desperate attempt to avoid netball. (The school netball team was nicknamed 'The Virgins', because none of them were. Ask any old FCH boy. Mrs Angry was not in the netball team.)

The reason Mrs Angry really detests sport is because she can't do it: any of it, and she only really likes things she is quite good at. Which is not much, which is why she is always so disatisfied. She quite likes swimming - which she managed to learn when she was too young to know any better -although it is rather boring, let's be honest, and she hasn't been since the memorable winter's day her club had a fire alarm panic and forced everyone to leave the pool by the fire exit, barefoot and semi naked, shivering in wet swimsuits, and then stand dripping in Waitrose's car park in full view of the shopping public of Mill Hill East.

So, anyway: this is a long way round to explaining why she has not previously shown any particular interest in or understanding of the long, long saga of Barnet FC and the Underhill ground. But she was sad to hear the news anounced today - that the club will no longer play at its traditional venue, ending more than a hundred years of association and putting the future of the team in real jeopardy.

Mrs Angry has no intention of going into the tedious story of how we reached this point: in short, there have been years of wrangling between the club's owner Tony Kleanthous and Barnet Council over leasing and other issues, none of which makes much sense to her, but one thing is clear: Barnet Council has effectively done everything in its power to bring an end to the club's residency at Underhill, and has done nothing to support what is a hugely important and much loved team, the heart of the local community: in many ways, the story of Underhill and the treatment of the club is a potent symbol of everything that is wrong in Broken Barnet.

Mrs Angry was present at a recent council meeting where the sale of Hendon FC ground was nodded through in a matter of seconds: the property is awaiting development, of course, and Mrs Angry can confidently predict that the same fate eventually awaits Underhill, despite its greenbelt status.

What angers so many Barnet supporters, and apparently Mr Kleanthous too, is that in contrast to the lack of support for our own local football side, so much consideration has been shown by Barnet Council to the proposal by outsiders, Watford based Saracens rugby team, to take over our run down stadium at Copthall and develop it into a ten thousand seat venue, despite what many local people feel is the inappropriate location of the stadium in a residential area with limited access, transport facilities or parking.

Copthall stadium has been allowed by Barnet Council to deteriorate - through lack of investment and funding - to the point where any proposal to take it off their hands might seem attractive. Mrs Angry used to visit the place, not so long ago, for children's sports days and once had to report to the borough's health and safety officers and the fire brigade that the fire exits, at the bottom of deathtrap cement stairwells, were being kept locked while thousands of school children were attending events there: the whole building was then clearly neglected and poorly staffed. It must be even worse now, and no doubt getting rid of responsibility for Copthall is a high priority for our Tory councillors.

There is no connection between Barnet and Sarcacens, of course, other than the fact that the Chair apparently lives in Totteridge, the ward coincidentally represented by Tory leader Richard Cornelius and oh, Brian Coleman.

In today's local Times, Cornelius states himself to be innocent of responsibility for the breakdown in negotiations between the authority and the club. But then again, this is the man who states himself to be innocent of responsibility for the current catastrophic policy that has robbed our town centres of more than 40% of trade since cashless parking was abolished.

What has happened at Underhill was predictable: in our borough we have no time for sentiment, or regard for our heritage: culture, history, the arts and sport are things without material value, and therefore of no consequence to the Tory councillors of Broken Barnet.

But here is another fatal mistake: another political misjudgement: having alienated every driver in the borough with the parking fiasco, the idiots have now gone and upset every Barnet FC supporter: a big mistake in the borough as a whole, but especially in the wider Chipping area, which has a surprising number of marginal wards. The Bees might have lost their football ground: it looks like the Barnet Tories have, yes, sorry, scored yet another own goal. It's all very well getting pre election handouts for the High Street from electioneering mayors, and splashing out on a Christmas tree for the church yard (which instantly fell over, overcome with theatrical irony) or sending Brian Coleman out on a Sunday afternoon to frighten small children at the Barnet Fayre: this fools no one.

The Tories have gone too far, and caused too much damage - there cannot be a single resident in the borough who has not been affected now in some way by the result of Tory policy in action. Forget about the effects of One Barnet and the outsourcing of our services: the libraries, the museums, the parking, now even our football team - these are the things which policiticise normally indifferent voters into protest. Roll on May 2012, and roll on the next local elections.


Mr Mustard said...

and Barnet FC and Underhill both trended on Twitter, Mrs A, which just goes to show how much power is wealded by the supporters of Barnet FC

Mrs Angry said...

oh hello, Mr Mustard: back from the Greyhound? You boys.

Yes: Barnet supporters are inconsolable, and even I can see why. Mind you, think of the free time they will now have on Saturday afternoons to go shopping with their girlfriends and/or wives. Not all bad news.