Wales For No Reason
The 2010 comedy horror film Rubber, which tells the story of a psychic serial killer named Robert, opens with a to-camera monologue from a character expounding on the concept of ‘No reason’.
“In the Steven Spielberg movie “E.T.,” why is the alien brown? No reason. In “Love Story,” why do the two characters fall madly in love with each other? No reason. In Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” why is the President suddenly assassinated by some stranger? No reason.”
Given that in the film Robert is a tyre (a car tyre, to be precise), no reason plays an important part in enjoying the (admittedly extremely bizarre) film.
On March 4th this year, In a (almost-certainly drunken) fit of pique, I tweeted:
At this point, Jack Wilshere was still broken, and Marcus Rashford had played all of two first-team games, so there was nothing to suggest either definitely would, yet here we are, setting off for the tournament with both in the squad and Wilshere, at the very least, likely to be in the starting XI.
So I’ve decided, for no reason, to hold myself accountable for that unretweeted, un-favourited, internet howl. I’m going to use this opportunity to shamelessly board a bandwagon slightly more interesting than England’s standard Quarter Final Exit Biennial, and support Wales in France this summer.
I love Wales. I have many great Welsh friends across the globe. I have been repeatedly told that my hometown of Carlisle is in Wales, and my favourite band ever is the Super Furry Animals, so for the purposes of No Reason, it makes perfect sense.
Various off-field events, some of which will be depressingly familiar to fans of other lower-league teams, caused me this season to come perilously close to considering washing my hands of Carlisle United, the team I have supported for 24-ish of my 35-ish years, and I have found myself pondering more and more on the point, the entire No Reason, of following football.
Leicester City winning the league was the happy ending pretty much everyone wanted. Football had the feel-goodfactor back. Fans of all teams could dream the impossible dream once again. A dream which lasted all of a month, when, like at the end of Flash Gordon, the hand of Jose Mourinho reached in to grab the FA Cup from the still-smouldering ashes of Louis Van Gaal. (If that’s not the final scene in the Jamie Vardy film, then I’ll be very disappointed.) I could have done with the summer off — a glorious cricketing summer, spent reminiscing about those halcyon days of Leonardo Ulloa and Robert Huth whilst reclining in a punt. Instead, it’s England.
In recent years, England have gone beyond the point of being knocked out of tournaments, they now escape them. The last frenzied, bloodied survivor scrambling to the safety of Luton Airport, as Andrea Pirlo and Luis Suarez, wearing the leathery faces of their vanquished opponents, wave their chainsaws around in the distance. Everything will be alright, we think: we’re free. Until the need for a lucrative sequel takes precedence and we all reconvene in Zurich for the draw to decide England’s opponents on the Road To Unreasonable Expectations 2018, before we hit 2 Fast 2 Qatar, even though nobody really wants to see either of them.
I am in no way as fervent as the many, thousands, millions across the world, who travel home and away, European and international games, giving an increasingly large amount of money away to an increasingly large number of people who have nothing to do with football, for no reason other than the promise of possible enjoyment. Even so, I have reached a point where, as far as England is concerned, for no reason, I have simply arbitrarily decided that Jack Wilshere being picked is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or as would more likely be the case, the straw that caused the camel to suffer an injury setback in training.
Rationality has, despite what millions will tell you, very little to do with football. Most of what makes up being a football supporter has no sound decision making or clear, uncluttered thought attached. In Holland during Euro 2000, I witnessed two elderly ladies with orange rinsed hair, and a man spray-painting his lawn. They had their reasons for doing those things: football.
Getting up at five in the morning so you can spend six hours in a car, stop for a two hour break before doing it all again in reverse; jeopardising a marriage by naming a female child after the starting XI of the 1995 Auto Windscreens Shield Final; crying on a YouTube video over the age of 40 — Football. If someone ever asks you “Why” and your answer is “Football”, try replacing it with “No reason,” and 99% of the time it will make just as much sense.
I’m going to wear my hair like Gareth Bale, feed chickens like Joe Allen, and for the first weekend of the tournament I will be at a stag do with 20 Welsh guys. The best thing about all this, of course, is that I still get to support England in the cricket, as it’s the England & Wales Cricket Board, so a win-win all round.