If you’d asked me when I was at school whether I’d be kicking up a fuss on transfer deadline day I’d have believed you. But, 17 years later, it seems it’s not my footballing ability that’s caused a storm.
Two years ago the Liverpool striker Fabio Borini spent a year on loan at the team I support, Sunderland. He scored a few goals including some against Newcastle and the whole deal was viewed as a success. We tried to sign him permanently and despite chasing him publicly all summer, he refused. Fair enough.
We continued chasing him over the next year, and were turned down again. Even as recently as Monday morning the BBC were reporting that Sunderland had a bid accepted but the player himself was holding out for a move elsewhere. It came as something of a surprise when Sunderland suddenly confirmed Borini had agreed a permanent deal with them on Monday. He said:
Now that seemed mildly amusing to me. It’s an odd word to use to describe your return to an employer you’d spent at least 12 months trying to avoid. I’ve no issue with him wanting to advance his career with clubs other than Sunderland. But it’s an odd choice of word. So I posted a simple tweet:
I’ve met Paul a few times, usually at Sunderland games, so assumed it was a joke that didn’t translate brilliantly, thought nothing more of it then went to bed. I woke up to this text message from my dad:
I’ve no idea how or why, but for some reason the BBC had decided to report the tweet in their football gossip column on one of the busiest days of the season. I hadn’t brought it to anyone’s attention, or added hashtags or anything else. It was there just for those that follow me and that was it. But there I was, comedian Andy Fury, right next to another comedian, one of my heroes Bob Mortimer. It was quite surreal to see, but a wonderful honour. I was made up, but it lasted all of about ten minutes until I got a message on Twitter:
The oddest thing was that this was Paul’s first tweet. He’d literally created a twitter account just to call me a dick!
I mean, I’d probably fit in at that level but I sort of took Paul’s point. I don’t look like a footballer. And hey, if he was so offended that he joined twitter just to tell me, then I’ll let that slide. But he wasn’t alone:
I mean, I wasn’t sure how to answer Val. She’d got in touch with me, after all. Not the other way round. But it was around then that I realised this might be an interesting day. The messages continued:
I’ll be honest, this was my favourite one probably of the entire day. For a variety of reasons. Firstly, it seems an odd way to have recognised me – I’ve done enough things you’d recognise me from (TV, radio, writing books and contributing to various Sunderland-related publications) than to remember what I hadn’t done. But, and don’t worry Prescott, I realise you were doing a little joke. Totes on board with that – you don’t get the BBC describing you as a comedian without knowing what a joke is. But that’s an odd way to define a stand up comedian. Makes his living from doing stand up? Yes. Done TV/radio shows? Yes. Won awards? Yes. Toured a show of his own? Yes. Been on Have I Got News For You? No. NOT A COMEDIAN THEN. God bless you Prescott, that made me laugh more than my tweet made you laugh. Well done. There were others though.
Although I’ll be honest, if your Twitter profile pic is of Fabio Borini, it’s always going to be hard to win Scott around. I like Scott though. Just because 32 other people had thought of the Twitter handle @safc before him, that didn’t put him off. Anyway, I soon received some slightly better news from my friend Ben:
I mean, there’s not much I can say really on that. But still…
Yeah, I see your point I guess. But this was all getting a bit odd. I’d tweeted a random observation on a footballer last night, and suddenly my Twitter was full of Sunderland fans eager to call me a twat, and now an internet forum was filling space by doing the same? And suggesting I was rubbish at my job, based on, well, them disagreeing with my point of view I guess. Even though if Borini had turned us down a third time they’d have presumably continued abusing him directly via Twitter themselves. As it was, people continued with me:
I love Neil’s concern. And I also love that, presumably having been to loads of my gigs, he knows what people are actually laughing at. I mean, I wouldn’t know, what with me not looking too bright. But thank the lord that good folk such as Neil are there to keep me on the straight and narrow. All hail Neil!
I got straight onto a few model railway exhibitors and suggested I come to a few of their shows and do a turn at their hotels afterwards. And from just three emails I booked in a load of quite lucrative work, doing my dream gig of performing for train nerds! People were starting to be nice to me again!
I then realised that it was actually some horrid cunt suggesting I throw myself under a train, which is really quite unpleasant when you think about it.
Thankfully I won’t be giving it much thought. While some people sit and stew and wallow in hatred, I’ll be taking my gonky face on the road (not literally, sorry) and enjoying the best feeling in the world. No, not belittling others anonymously from behind a keyboard, but performing to a massive room of people, them listening to what I have to say, sitting silently whilst I say it then laughing loudly exactly when I want them to. It’s infinitely better than the fleeting milisecond of joy you’ll get from clicking “send” on an internet forum or social media. And it’s not some fluke that I’ve misunderstood. But I appreciate your bizarre insistence that it must be.
Enjoy your life in cyber land, losers – I’ve got a gig to get to!