A shot in the dark

Cod Almighty | Article

by Tony Butcher

16 November 2022

Shortlisted in the Fan Media of the Year category at the Football Supporters' Association Awards, Tony Butcher drew the short straw to venture forth and attend the presentation dinner in London. Here's how it went.

What the heck are we doing in a swanky restaurant in that London? Who let us in? Well, me and my mate John, my airbrushed B&B for the night. Nice to see he finally lengthened those curtains after 20 years.

Someone had to do it and the only person with a plausible excuse to have to work in London that day was despatched to walk on, walk on, up Gloucester Place with hope in his heart that the food isn't too fancy. No nuts, no fruit, and why is the good old British pea continually ignored?

Champagne? Canapés? Who are you calling a swanker? Can I just have some orange juice, please.

I'm a simple man from a simple fanzine. No frills, no faffing about, no adverts, no sponsors, no charge, no chance. Wahey, dinner time!

Fashionably placed in the lower middle tables with other general non-celebs, that Victoria Derbyshire off of that telly and that radio cracked the verbal whip: let the ceremony begin.

Words from the worthies, prizes for big playing wigs. At least Ian Wright-Wright-Wright turned up, even if he did transform into Ramblin’ Sid Rumpo as his speech meandered through the Cotswolds and finally flowed into the Avon somewhere near Bath. Lovely chap, though, means so well.

Never mind, here comes the paté.

Oh cripes, hang on, SLO of the Year next. It is time for me to stop all of my chomping, I'd promised to be Kristine's representative on earth if need be. A brilliantly witty paean of praise for Our Kris was percolating, some say stewing, deep, deep down inside my brain, something marvellously witty about personal and club resurrection and transformation. Yep, I'm ready for the close-up now. And the winner is…not Kristine.

All present could only agree that the speech they never knew existed was the best they've never heard.

We chitter and chatter, and bond with our tablemates: double Blackpool blokes, a cheery chappie from Wolves, a medium-sized FSA wig from proper Wimbledon who was completely non-plussed by descriptions of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy CA T-shirt extravaganza in 2008. Oh, yeah they've all been to Blundell Park, loved it, fish and chips, they remember this win, that loss, the station bars, etc, etc. No-one mentioned Ian Holloway. Best not to, we're here to enjoy ourselves and celebrate the best of football.

Dinner! Knuckle of lamb with mashed potato purée. Listen here, Egon, green beans are not posh peas.

Pudding, at last. No nuts, edible fruit, some chocolate, some cream, that'll do nicely. Clarke Carlisle waltzed over to glad-hand his tangerine chums. Is there a secret dress code for the elite women? All those ladies in red.

C’mon Newsnight’s starting soon. Are they ever going to get to not awarding us Fan Media Brand of the Year? Ah-ha, here we are, we're ready for our two seconds of mass puzzlement as the intro-film didn't mention the club names. With any luck we'll be the first nomination of the night announced in complete silence. Always niche, always aiming high…

"The nominees are…Cod Almighty"


Up went two tables of women footballers – even some ladies in red - hooterin' and a-hollerin'. Are they drunk and having a giggle at Grimsby? Why on earth are they supporting us?

Ah yes, Mr Pete Green, we salute you. Winks were tipped to the women of England.

Who won? Leeds won, and bounded up en masse on stage to proudly announce their business was growing and they now have six full-time staff. We aspire to having six people prepared to write a diary now and again.

At least the Geordie boys didn’t win anything, for all things Newcastle continue to endear themselves to no-one. They were almost politely, very firmly told to shut up for their constant oafish blokeyness in talking over everyone and everything. Arrogant self-centred tossers.

After The Guardian hoovered up the final awards it all ended. What next? Nothing, I'll get me coat. As the search for lost handbags stretched into its fifth day, Tracey Crouch shuffled uneasily. We looked into each other's eyes and neither could be arsed with small talk.

Time to go.

Thanks for the invite, thanks for noticing us tiny shoestringers in a world of corporate fanbanterdom. Some us are still flying the flag for football fanzines.

Add peas to the menu next year and we may come back for more.