Face for radio: Adrian Durham
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This time, the chance would be taken to pen a serious ‘journalistic’ piece, something bristling with erudite observations and enlightening analysis delivered in classy, concise text, as has surely now become a trademark . Sadly, it is here that The Mambo chanced upon The Adrian Durham Column on the suitably tawdry Mail Online. Of course, entering such a lurid, morally vacuous space was always likely to prompt the departure of all joy and hope from a hitherto contented heart yet Durham’s repellent rantings soiled the soul to an unforeseen extent.
Happily, this was The Mambo’s opening encounter with Durham. Apparently, he’s quite the radio ‘personality,’ (naturally, that is to say ‘dickhead’) hosting a prime slot on the ghastly Talksport, where his most high-profile incident revolved around labelling Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher a ‘bottler.’ The Mail’s archives show that only a few weeks ago, that same charge was levelled at Lionel Messi, as his loyalty to the club which has nurtured his genius has consequently saw him shun the ‘challenge’ of transferring his peerless gifts to the Premier League. So that’s the level of wanker we’re dealing with; parochial, ignorant, crass, charmless, thoughtless and above all, skull-creakingly tedious. As such, it’s no surprise to find Durham writing for The Mail, it is surely the natural habitat for such myopic drivel as he seems perfectly tailored for their backward demographic in much the same way that Jeremy Clarkson is for supporters of the British National Party. Or indeed, for Daily Mail readers. Such certainty is strewn loudly on the article’s accompanying mug shot which somehow manages to further besmirch Durham’s witless words. Here we are presented with a face free from doubt, certain of his opinions yet, simultaneously, it’s a misanthropic expression free from any warmth or humanity. Perceptively, it’s the kind of face that even if present on a newborn would see the mother glance in terror at it’s demonic, dead-eyed stare before screaming frantically at her midwife to just toss the child mercifully into the bin.
Beneath such an unwelcoming gaze comes a splurge of sub-pub nonsense. All optimism evaporated as early as the opening sentence, as we’re told of ‘Jamie’s Redknapp’s excellent piece,’ which for all its waywardness, did at least set the tone for the quality of judgement therein. Despite such professed excellence, Redknapp’s piece was however far too negative regarding English football than Durham and his boorish ilk could ever contemplate. Where the former Liverpool man expressed his concern in light of FIFA’s recent World XI containing not a single English-based player, his legitimate anxieties were here uncouthly crushed with the flimsiest of considerations. Redknapp pondered where the next Wayne Rooney would emerge from, Durham dismissed the forward’s achievements, drawing attention to the likes of Peterborough teenager Jaanai Gordon and bizarrely, Danny Crowley, a player he reveals was only a substitute at youth cup level, before demanding that they ‘aim higher’ than Rooney and urging each to ‘do something for your country.’
The implication therefore, must be that Rooney, with 32 international goals to his name has performed with disinterested disdain throughout his international career. Such sentiment is farcical, with his superlative showings as an 18 year-old at Euro 2004 perhaps the most notable individual contribution from an Englishman at a major finals since 1990. True, the suspicion that such promise has not fully flowered remains and Rooney will likely never develop into the player it was hoped but he will nonetheless look back on a distinguished career. Inconsistently, Liverpool youngsters Conor Coady and Jordan Rositter are hailed as potential heirs to Steven Gerrard, proclamations seemingly ignorant of the fact that Gerrard, to a greater extent than Rooney, has largely failed as England player. Still, in Durham’s surreal interpretation of reality, such shortcomings were merely down to ‘mismanagement’ from a series of England coaches and in no way due to the fact that players profiled patriotically as greats were merely very good.
Further layers of nationalist, flag-waving ecstasy reside in the burgeoning talents of Jack Butland, Andre Wisdom and George Thorne, who may well all develop into reliable internationals but as goalkeeper, right-back and defensive midfielder respectively, none is likely to ignite the imagination. Slightly more convincing are the cases made for Jack Wilshere and Raheem Sterling, something Durham clearly feels ill-placed pride towards, as manifest through the arrogantly asserted and grammatically suspect rhetorical question, ‘You telling me they’re not technically gifted?’ Well in the case of the latter, yes pal, we are. Fear not however, as any doubt can be safely swatted away by following Durham’s plea to ‘go and watch them,’ (advice the author may wish to take, as Rositter’s recommendation rests only on the strength of a Robbie Fowler tweet) as though their prodigious gifts will be self-evident and all will thereafter become devout disciples of The Church of Adrian, dogmatically blind to the twin truths that vast swathes of precocious teenagers fail to match expectation and most obviously, that other countries are producing talented footballers too. And more of them.
Unsurprisingly, the concept of overseas leagues producing gifted footballers is not one recognised by Durham. With characteristic poetry, FIFA’s all-La Liga World XI is denounced as a ‘total joke,’ before progressing to speculate that the result is the work of those who ‘don’t bother watching football,’ which given his own ideological attachment to a kind of Premier League Splendid Isolation displays quite astonishing levels of hypocrisy and a contemptible poverty of self-awareness. It also displays a shameful lack of understanding regarding the voting procedure, as the team was composed of votes cast by professional players, not FIFA bureaucrats. Undeterred by fact, Durham turns to the footballing Little Englander’s most treasured contention, that of rapacious philander Ashley Cole being the game’s pre-eminent left-back, a state of affairs branded (again with Wildean flourish) ‘frankly laughable.’ Uniquely, he may actually have a point in as far as the inclusion of Marcelo (and equally, Dani Alves as the other full-back) is somewhat questionable but Phillip Lahm’s claim for that berth is surely more credible whilst Juventus and Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini or PSG’s Thiago Silva may also feel their strong claims for defensive places were unfairly subdued by Spanish glamour.
Further forward, we’re told that David Silva’s absence is ‘stunning’ and that Juan Mata’s exclusion is only explained by the possibility that voters were unaware that he started his career with Real Madrid. Of course, the obvious counter to the claim is that Mata, fine player that he undoubtedly is, wasn’t deemed of requisite standard for the Bernabeu and in all likelihood, few in the Spanish capital would prize him over Mesut Ozil, who although riding the apparently fashionable waves of Castilian bias, was also overlooked. Mata’s inability to feature regularly for Spain inevitably also counts against his favour, as does his disappointing displays for his country’s Olympic side as they were so listlessly eliminated at the tournament’s opening stage. Still, the clearest, most insurmountable obstacles facing of both Silva and Mata are the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrés Iniesta and most glaringly, Lionel Messi, named as the game’s top 3 footballers the same night the World Team was announced. In order to make the XI, it is one of these who must be supplanted, which even in the mind of a chest-beating fantasist of Durham’s calibre is beyond argument.
The very fact that this has supposedly washed over Durham’s stilted comprehension is a as damning an indictment of his piece as the banner it was published under and effectively discredits his every utterance. His argument for Chelsea’s Ramires to be recognised was so fanciful that even Mail readers realised the folly, opting alternatively for a midfield pairing of Marouane Fellaini and Yaya Touré in their ideal Premier League XI, which obligingly, did much to highlight the superiority of Spain’s selection and settle the paper’s own spurious debate. In the minds of Durham however, such selections have less to do with genuine merit and more to do with puerile playground cock-measuring over which nation has the greatest this, the strongest that or the most entertaining other. Well congratulations Adrian, on this occasion and doubtlessly many, many more, you are indeed the biggest cock.