Sunday, 3 July 2011

Just who the hell is Akabusi?

Kriss Akabusi: a personal hero.

Good afternoon and hello! I trust I find you in high spirits? Are you keeping well? And your family? Good, good.

Anyway... Welcome to Who the hell is Akabusi?, your ultimate guide to all things related to, but not exclusive to, Stenhousemuir FC and the Scottish Second Division. For some time I have considered chanelling all my ill-informed opinions on my team into the format of a blog but for various reasons - work commitments, global warming, and so on - I've never had the time. Now, however, given that my band have recently disbanded and my girlfriend has elected to spend her summer in Mauritius, I find myself with far more free time on my hands than I had anticipated. Instead of weeping and wanking into a flannel that "smells faintly of her", I thought it would be far more positive if I dedicated my time and energy into writing. As a student of English Literature and an aspiring football writer, I felt the only thing that I could commit to paper is my passion for football and my love of the Warriors.

Before doing so, however, I thought it appropriate to provide you with a little background about myself. It only seems fair. Other than one very brief glimpse, I had never shown any aptitude as a footballer. One of my father's favourite stories from my childhood is when I was around the ages of one or two and had just started taking my first tentative steps. He planked a ball in front of me and stood back in astonishment as I ran backwards and forwards with the ball at my feet. Good God!, he exclaimed to my mother. He's going to be a superstar! He's like George Best! Sadly, when he tried the same thing a couple of days later, it was quite apparent that the whole thing was a massive fluke, that I was a cumbersome and ineffectual dribbler and that my father had been very wrong - indeed, some twenty-three years later I'm overweight and working in a call centre... If only...

As a child grows up, it is tradition that he supports the same team as his father. My father is a Rangers supporter but, as far as I can remember, he never made any attempts to convince me to follow suit. We've never discussed it, but I'm sure his rationale for refusing to encourage me to follow Rangers was that he wanted his son to avoid the baggage that accompanies supporting one half of the Old Firm. As such, I never supported a team throughout my childhood. Sure, there were teams I liked - Heart of Midlothian, Kilmarnock, Newcastle, Blackburn - but never one that I truly gave my heart to. Like many local children, I was caught up in the rush and excitement of Stenhousemuir's remarkable Scottish Cup run of the mid-nineties - I was at Ochilview when they beat St Johnstone and when they beat Aberdeen and I was there when the run came to a cruel end at the hands of Hibernian. Feats like that should be spellbinding to the young mind but as the season moved into it's closing stages and the Warriors returned to their league duties, my mother stopped taking me to the games and I lost interest and returned to the world of Panini sticker books and computer games.

Kennedy Bakircioglu: the best player in the world in Championship Manager 00-01.

As I grew older, I began to develop a strong interest in the game. This interest was purely as a spectator, you understand - my forays into the playing side of the game were ham-fisted and unsuccessful. My boy's club team - the Young Maroons, as it happened - were quite atrocious. Spirited, yes, but with absolutely zero quality, at one local tournament we were quickly put to the sword by a girls team. I remember we took the lead early on, but they rallied and through a combination of sheer force of will and "Big Michelle", they equalised and then scored the winning goal in the final seconds. It was utterly humiliating and if there was anything that convinced me that I was never going to make it in any capacity as a footballer, then it was that. Instead, I resigned myself to playing Championship Manager and watching the Champions League, Gazetta and any other football broadcast on the television and developed a keen knowledge on players, teams and managers. Ask me anything about the career of Kennedy Bakircioglu. Go on.

During the final weeks of my high school career, I was encouraged to attend Ochilview by one of my friends, himself a Warrior. Given that I had nothing to do that afternoon, it seemed like the perfect tonic to wile away the hours on a spring day. It was 2004, Stenhousemuir were playing Alloa Athletic and they were quietly beaten, confirming their relegation into the basement league. The standard of football was dire. The crowd was full of frustrated old men, shaking their fists and spewing vitriolic tirades of abuse at both their own and opposition players. I remember John Paul McBride and Paul McGrillen - players that had graced my aforementioned sticker albums - were plying their trade on the pitch in front of me. How the mighty have fallen, I arrogantly thought. I was more content to spend the time talking with my friend about last night's telly and what was happening with the wrestling. It was all just a laugh, really - watching shite players in a shite league playing shite football. I thought nothing more of it, but a fortnight later, I found myself once again at Ochilview watching Stenhousemuir take on a dire East Fife side. And as the season finished, I found myself longing for the new season to begin. In the short space of that summer, the very fabric of the game changed in front of me. No longer was it a piss-take. I wanted to spend my time learning about the players and the history of the club. I wanted to talk to the old boys about the team and exchange opinions with other supporters. Everything became far more important - now it began to seem vital and essential.

Stephen Thomson:  a bad dream.

Since then I have become heavily involved in following Stenhousemuir. Over the last six years, there have been some extraordinary highs (the promotion to the Second Division without a doubt being the most salient and inarguably the greatest day of my life) and some dismal lows (the humiliating 5-0 defeat to East Stirlingshire at Firs Park; Campbell Money's tenure as manager; Stephen Thomson). Through my support of the club, I've made some good friends, travelled to some eye-opening locations around the country, written for the club programme and had the programme notes discussed at an SFA board meeting and helped fund the purchase of a lesser-spotted giant flag.

But why a blog? Why not just enjoy the football and spend your spare time taking up a hobbby like caligraphy or tennis? For some time now, and I believe I'm speaking on behalf of the majority of fans of lower league football in Scotland, I have been disappointed with the media coverage that our teams deserve. The reporting is often curt and inaccurate. On a Sunday morning, we're either treated to a handful of tawdry lines buried away towards the back pages of the red tops, hidden amongst the racing listings and the advertisements for stairlifts and cardigans, or, even worse, in the quality newspapers, a single sentence that simply states the scoreline. This simply is not good enough. More often than not, supporters are reliant on fan's forums for information on their team and, while perhaps only a handful of posters provide insightful, balanced and truthful reports, they're often filled with trolls, morons and the illiterate. I don't want to do that with Who the hell is Akabusi? I want to provide quality writing and to aspire to elevate this blog to the same pantheon as Gable End Graffiti, the brilliantly written yet sadly defunct Montrose blog. As mentioned above, I have aspirations to become a football writer and have recently successfully applied to study a post-graduate course in multimedia journalism for the forthcoming academic year and, if you're prepared to stick with me throughout the season, I can assure that when it comes to the showdown, I'm going to be there for you.

The Irons Age is upon us.

Maroon and white, one army.

1 comment: