by Clive Gresswell
Yesterday, Wednesday 21 of January if I recall right, was the day that all the footballers died. I don't mean just one or two but quite literally all the footballers of whatever league collapsed and died where they stood without known cause or a plausible explanation. Maybe their hearts had given out because of the enforced rest of the Covid lockdown and they could no longer keep control of their once super-fit bodies. Don't ask me, I'm no expert. It was only a few months ago that you couldn't go to a football game but you could still watch plenty on telly.
Naturally, there were lots of grieving footballer's wives many of whom were telling their friends: "I told Jim to give it up years ago but he loved the game so much he would have played it for nothing. We got more than enough money out of it, but it wasn't worth his life."
There were lots of people directly hit by the deaths of all these footballers
such as managers who could no longer field a team to clubhouse volunteers and paid
staff who didn't know quite what to do but they opened up anyway for the sake of fans and keeping memories of the club's heroes alive.
Football commentators from the telly were also hit with nothing left to comment on except raking up the past - they were devastated.
"There's no use for us anymore,” Jimmy Hill told Gary Linekar, who glumly agreed. They left the studio and went to a bar together so they could drown their sorrows
The duo fell to reminiscing about all the great matches they had broacast and with some hope decided there was scope for a series they could make all about the greatest matches ever on TV. That could see them into retirement if need be.
The only person with more footballing knowledge than them was Brian Moore and he could be called in if he wanted to play ball.
Many undertakers were torn between the increase in business and their passion for the game or a particular club. Many resolved this conflict by utilizing their determination to give their footballing heroes the best possible send off. It would be stylish but expensive worthy of a soccer legend.
The scuffles in the street since the footballers died had calmed down after Mr Hill's broadcast with the Prime Minister appealing for calm.
Both had said the football grounds would be tended to as the delay to matches would be minimal. Meanwhile games would be played out on Subbuteo and those results read to the nation just as the pools used to be. Maybe it would not be quite the same but it was a good substitute considering the lockdown and so on.
The Prime Minister declared a week of mourning and said that there would be an inquiry into the deaths. At the moment there were no clues into how all the footballers died, all at the same time, precisely 3pm. There had been speculation that a terrorist had managed to somehow get inside their bodies with some sort of nerve agent or poison. Also suspected was the Russian government because, well, they were always doing that sort of thing and cheating in sport.
The PM said for now they were keeping all their options open and would not be rushed into any conclusions. The inquiry would be led by Frank Lampard, QC, a footballer turned judge.
A big service for these men so loved by other men was to be held in Westminster Abbey which would also be seen as a celebratory occasion to mark their lives and all they had achieved.
Fans and dignitaries would all be invited and it would all be televised. That was if the Covid restrictions didn't get in the way but fingers crossed they will be lifted by then.
The Prime Minister said everyone should brace themselves and carry on as if nothing untoward had happened,
We should muster our resilience and keep a stiff upper lip in the true British tradition.
I'm not sure how this went down with the angry mob that was gathering just to let off its frustrations.
After the PM's press conference there was a blanket ban on any more news coverage of the deaths of all these footballers.
This was at his own insistence though some of his advisors thought it was most unwise.
The country already knew about it and there would have to be some sort of outcome from the inquiry.
"Why?" said Frank Lampard
About the author
Clive Gresswell, 102, is an innovative short story writer and poet who has appeared in BlazeVox and many poetry magazines. He has two poetry collections out with Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. Another is with erbacce press.