last word: Like spilled blood

By A. Igoni Barrett

Posted on June 17, 2011 13:43

A hot, humid evening in this city. After-work traffic is as bad as ever. The danfo bus radio is on. The news commentary is all about sports, about football, about Manchester United and Chelsea, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, the Reds and the Blues — those fierce Premiership rivals who are preparing, this very day, to do battle in faraway, freezing England.

Our bus turns the corner near a market district and comes upon a large crowd of men standing in the road blocking traffic. They are chanting what we suppose at first to be war songs but later realise are football anthems. They are wearing club colours — blue jerseys, blue stocking hats, blue mufflers. We do not have to read the name blazoned on their jerseys to tell that these are Chelsea fans.??

As we watch, this herd of blue charges the stalls of some paint-sellers. They make no threatening gestures, they carry no weapons. Still, by the strength of their numbers, the ferocity of their lyrics, they intimidate the stall owners, who run away. The men shout with glee as they ransack the stalls.

They pry open paint buckets: they are searching for one colour — blue. Whenever they see red, they raise a cheer of rage. They will bury Manchester United today, they shout. They will show the whole world the colour of their passion, their obsession — they will paint the front of the houses of all ‘Man U’ fans in the neighbourhood blue when they win — not if, when. It is a promise.

They bear away buckets of blue paint, laughing and singing.

That night, Manchester United defeats Chelsea.

The next morning, passing through the area on our way to work, we see an endless stream of blue in the gutters, like spilled blood.

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