With the campaign officially done and dusted, now seems as good a time as any to look ahead and think about what life will be like for Richmond in the Championship.
PSYCH! It’s way too soon for that, and if I have my way I’ll keep pretending this is all a terrible dream. Like that time my girlfriend and I went to a charity benefit and she ended up engaged with a two percent stake in the newly-relegated club that I just so happen to work for. That wasn’t a dream so much as my f***ing nightmare of a reality, but I guess what I’m saying is maybe if we all collectively wish hard enough this will all just go away.
This is, in actuality, my favorite time of year, when we get to look back on everything that transpired over the past 9 months and hand out awards, both deserved and not. If the mayhem that was last season felt like it was ripped straight from the the 1989 American baseball classic Major League, then the year ahead is shaping up to play out like the 1988 American baseball classic Bull Durham. Why do I keep comparing Richmond seasons to baseball films from the ’80s? Mind your business, that’s why. Baseball is more boring than cricket, but it’s ripe for romanticism. You can’t script a Premier League campaign (though if you did it would look like 2015-16, *WINK*), but if you step back, it’s easy to see how it ebbs and flows like a movie or, say, a season of television… so to speak.
So with that in mind, let’s hand out AFC Richmond’s 1st Annual Year End Awards! The awards are titled for my favorite quotes from Bull Durham, are completely arbitrary, and are in no way representative of any voting system or consensus. It’s a stolen gimmick, but so is my ex-girlfriend.
Watch yourself, folks. My favorite club was relegated, I’ve been drinking since last Tuesday, and I just saw the love of my life on the front page of the Daily National caressing a gazillion-year-old man. I’m coming in hot!
“You got a gift. When you were a baby, the Gods reached down and turned your right arm into a thunderbolt. You got a Hall-of-Fame arm, but you’re pissing it away.”
The first award goes to, who else, Ted Lasso. Lasso always managed to get the most out of everyone, from his championship-winning time coaching American college football to training a bunch of adults to play a game he STILL doesn’t understand.
Unfortunately for Richmond, the one player he managed to get the most out of was Jamie f***ing Tartt, who, when presented with a chance to be a lone wolf hero, opted to pass it to the open man for a sure goal. That goal came at the expense of the Greyhounds in the final seconds of a game in which they literally had to get a point, but hey, now we’re heading to a different Championship of sorts, so that’s neat.
“This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”
To the ever-present Coach Beard, who was always there by Lasso’s side to explain the nuances of the game. By nuances, of course, I’m referring to the most basic of rules that any six-year-old knows. On the weekend, some lip readers actually caught him offering Ted Lasso an unusual crash course regarding the offside rule.
There are some who would suggest that Coach Beard is the real brains behind the whole operation. I am one of them. I mean, have you seen Lasso’s postgame interviews? There will almost certainly be a bunch of offside situations in the Championship, too, so I’m sure this will be really useful information.
“How come in former lifetimes, everybody is someone famous? I mean, how come nobody ever says they were Joe Schmo?”
To our fearless owner, Rebecca Welton, who went to divorce hell and back and came out on the other side stronger, better, and improbably, the owner of a Premier League football club. She immediately made it a relegation side by hiring someone that doesn’t know anything about the sport and getting rid of Richmond’s best player, but something tells me her story isn’t finished being written. Besides, Mannion is an assssssss. Good riddance.
“Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time, but it’s also a job.”
To Keeley Jones, who improbably went from pin-up WAG to Richmond’s promotional director this season. I don’t really have anything snarky to say here. She is always nice to me in the halls and seems to have a better grasp on what it means to be a professional than 99.9% of the jackholes walking around Richmond.
It’s hard to imagine she’ll stick around working for the club next season. There’s not a lot of demand for second tier players doing promotions in the Championship. With any luck, her friendship with the owner and obvious affection for Roy Kent will be enough to keep her on board. Assuming Roy Kent is still with the club next season. More on that in a bit.
“No, Meat, don’t think, just give him the gas.”
To Sam Obisanya, who spent the better part of the season overthinking everything. It’s possible he just had too much on his plate as a right back tasked with so much offensive creation. Like so many other players on this squad, Lasso figured out how to get the most out of Sam as well, moving him to left wing in a pivotal match against Watford. There were plenty in the media calling for him to move back to defense, but with the way he finished the season Richmond will be lucky if they can hang onto him heading into the Championship.
“The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self awareness.”
To Dani Rojas because, I mean, look at this guy.
He’s like that off the pitch, too. It’s very strange.
“Come on, ‘rook, show us that million-dollar arm. ‘Cause I got a good idea about that five-cent head of yours.”
To Jamie f***ing Tartt. The less said, the better.
“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes.”
To Colin Hughes, who is so close to breaking through and becoming a big time player but simply hasn’t put all the pieces together yet. He was snubbed by Wales in the latest round of qualifiers – which has to sting considering it’s, you know, WALES – and now he’s packing his bags for the Championship. But hey, maybe that will afford him more opportunities to play in Wales.
Shit. I said Wales too many times. Now it looks funny on the page.
“Don’t think. You can only hurt the ball club.”
To Isaac McAdoo, who was so vacant of mind that he became Richmond’s captain in the most important match of the season.
Unfortunately, he was also vacant as Richmond’s center back, and it was his spot on the pitch where we last saw Jamie Tartt galloping directly into the box as he was blasting us into the championship. But he was a leader when his club needed him to be, and that’s what counts. Or something.
“You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!” “Lollygaggers.”
To the newly minted Nate the Great. When the team needed to be set straight, it took now-assistant coach, then-kit man, Nate to lay down the law and scare these kids to take the game more seriously. The result was only the greatest win in the history of the club – away to Everton for the first time in more than half a century.
It was as a glorious win, diminished only slightly by the fact that they left me behind to do busy work with f***ing Higgins, of all people. Speaking of…
“Okay, well, uh… candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she’s registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern. Okay, let’s get two! Go get ’em.”
To Leslie Higgins, Jr. – a “feminine junior” but always masculine in our heart. LOL. Ever the humble problem solver, Higgins has been hovering around the Richmond hierarchy for decades, but this season he took on a greater role under Ms. Welton when she promoted him to Director of Football Operations. Since then he has taken on a STAGGERING amount of duties; seriously, there are only, like, eight of us that work here. It’s a PREMIER LEAGUE CLUB. Was. Shit. Now I’m sad again. Say something mean… the new kid in the boot room is an idiot. Much better.
“I’m just happy to be here and I hope I can help the ball club. You know, I just wanna give it my best shot and good lord willing things will work out. You know you gotta play em one day at a time though.”
To Trent Crimm, who is a COLOSSAL prick (always has been). Reporters like him are the reason people give out asinine and mundane quotes like this one. Hopefully, the Championship is so far beneath him we won’t see his face for a while. He’ll be the death of the media, mark my words.
“You’re in the wrong business, Jack. You’re Sears and Roebuck material.”
To Ol’ George What’s-his-name, for making haste with his exit from Richmond. You sucked as a manager and you’ll probably never work again. Not that you cared as long as Rupert was picking up the check. Dick. Which brings us to…
“He’s just your father, man… he’s as full of shit as anybody.”
To Rupert Mannion, because presumably somebody needs to tell Bex that he’s older than her own father, though maybe that’s what’s so appealing to her. Since you’re no longer the boss, I can safely say that while you have heaps of money and good looks, you, sir, are a bad person.
“Yeah, I was in the show. I was in the show for 21 days once – the 21 greatest days of my life. You know, you never handle your luggage in the show, somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains.“
Last but certainly not least, this one goes to Roy Kent. He’s been an icon in this league for longer than Colin has had pubes, but his injury against Man City might be the final nail in his career coffin. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a career coffin, but I’m struggling to find the right words at the moment.
It’s really hard to imagine Roy Kent playing in the Championship considering the guy won the Champions League. Admittedly, though, he’s been on the decline for a while now. His impact as of late was almost exclusively personality driven, which really says something about how far he’s come as a person. The other day he actually grunted at me outside the training room, I shit you not. Had Richmond managed to survive relegation, we’d be adding his incredible chase-down tackle of Tartt to his already legendary resume, but instead we might remember it as the last gasp of a dying career.
Like Keeley, there’s hope that his ties to the organization are strong enough to keep him around the club a bit longer, if only as a presence in the locker room. No one would begrudge him hanging up his boots though. He’s earned that.
So let’s sing it loud tonight, hopefully not for the last time.