Everyone’s a winner

It’s not fair that only one Prem team each year gets a prize, writes Hunter Davies

I want them all to stay up. I rush to the screen when I see the tragic faces, the young and old, ugly and pretty, especially the pretty, as it’s surprising how many pretties get spotted, head in hands, their nails bitten, uttering moans of total anguish. I long to kiss their wounds better, pat their worried brows, and say don’t worry, you little supporters of West Brom/Boro/Newcastle/ Sunderland/Blackburn/Hull/ Portsmouth/Stoke – isn’t it hellish for so many this season? – and tell them all YOU SHALL GO TO THE BALL, for Uncle Hunter will sort it. Bless.

It is rotten that only one Prem team wins a prize each year. I am currently judging the Lakeland Book of the Year Awards for the 25th time, and we are now so successful, the only regional prize of its kind, that we have sponsors queuing up and are able to award five prizes, plus certificates for the runners-up, so that in July, 15 people will go away having won something. Oh, if only football was like that. I would so like to declare ALL WILL WIN PRIZES (I have only just found out how to do capitals on my computer, so excuse me if I get carried away).

It’s often the Beaujolais talking, making me soft and sentimental. Then later I think nah, why should Newcastle stay up? All those horrible owners, the fat, ugly, half-naked supporters, what makes them think they deserve the Prem? They’ve done bugger all for decades. As for Boro, I do wish Gareth would wash his hair, ugh, we don’t want that sort in the Prem. And Sunderland, never liked them, not since I did my teaching practice at a Sunderland secondary modern and the kids were really horrid to me. (You didn’t know I’ve got a Dip Ed, did you? I try not to boast – or even remember why

I did it. I think it was to please my mum, or more likely to get another year editing Palatinate, the Durham student paper.)

Blackburn? I hate them. I once went all the way to the Millennium Stadium to see Spurs win the Carling Cup, only for Blackburn to beat us. It took for ever getting home. So, Blackburn, up your bum, see if I care.

Pompey, I have no connection with yous, never been to your ground, sorry, you mean nothing to me. As for Hull – I have a soft spot for them, actually, since Prezza and Pauline live there, and it did take them 104 years to get into the top division, so yeah, I’d like to see them survive.

Then I look at the top of the division, tighter than we imagined, we total experts, we know-alls, we who go around of a Monday morning saying that’s it then, Man U have run away with it again, and then on the following Monday nod wisely and parrot a new mantra: ah fink Man U is blown up, innit.

Then I get started on another glass, and instead of prizes for all I think hmm, isn’t it about time the top four were banned, give the other teams a chance?

What we should be able to do, we real fans of football, is VOTE each new season for entry to the Prem. We should pick the clubs we think deserve it, instead of leaving it to so-called market forces, which means dodgy billionaires draining the top clubs of money, spoilt and arrogant millionaire players, nasty directors, horrible agents. I’d like, for example, to see Cardiff and Burnley, Swansea and Preston, given a chance at the top next season. Long overdue. Think of the joy it would bring. I can just see their little faces. Bless . . .

Hunter Davies’s latest book, "Cold Meat and How to Disguise It: a Hundred Years of Belt Tightening”, is published by Frances Lincoln (£12.99)

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 20 April 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Who polices our police?