May 4th, 1991, and football was another country. As ludicrous as the following statements might sound, Luton Town were a top flight proposition, my beloved Liverpool were defending champions, Alex Ferguson's nose glowed not purple but a subtle shade of blanched cerise, and Stamford Bridge was a dilapidated pre-war s***hole frequented by hateful, b******-faced nazis; a billion rubles from the chemically castrated gastro-health-spa-soccerplex frequented by hateful, b******-faced hedge fund managers we all know and love today.
Nonetheless, against one’s better judgement, Stamford Bridge was my destination that fateful Saturday afternoon – the season wet-farting to a desperate end, not even victory would suffice as second-placed Liverpool clung in vain to the coat-tails of Stroller Graham’s table-topping Arsenal.
A campaign that started with such promise had sputtered and stalled following Dalglish’s shock resignation in February, and with his successor Graeme Souness being to football management what MRSA is to a routine surgical procedure, coming away with a point and half my stomach mauled by methicillin-resistant micro-organisms was realistically the best I could hope for.
Oh well, so we don’t win the title this year. It won’t be long ‘til the next one comes along. Surely.
Fool to myself, at the time, cash flow was my only real concern: I had money but not enough for both train and match. So, young, keen for adventure and with absolutely no sense of my own mortality, I threw caution in a roadside ditch and hitched a lift Fulham-ho in the boot of a lethally over-subscribed Austin Allegro.
I honestly think Charles Hawtrey’s corpse would've made more of an impact on the game.
Now, I'm not about to claim I have any insight into Terry Waite's plight, but by the time my captors finally opened the boot and let the long-forgotten sun rush in, my light-starved eyeballs were incapable of processing anything other than the searing pain of frying retina, and my spine was so comprehensively bowed I could easily have blown myself.
Sadly, with kick-off fast approaching, there simply wasn’t time. More’s the pity.
Heartbreaking though it was to let such an opportunity slip, unbeknownst to me, thanks to a preordained two-pronged assault from Chelsea stunt-c**** Gordon Durie and Kerry Dixon, the chance to swallow something filthy and bitter was not yet lost. Hurray, and onward to the turnstiles!
Unlike nowadays, if live football was your wont in ‘91, you didn't need to mortgage your soul for the price of a match ticket and I only had to part with £9 to gain entry – that's a pound for every ten minutes of w***** signs the ever-mirthsome Chelsea fans graciously saluted us with. Bargain.
And their hospitality didn’t end there, the Blues’ forward line offering us an unbelievable discount on a bespoke battering as they raced away to a 2-0 lead with barely half-an-hour played.
Stood there exposed to abuse and elements alike on the spatchcocked concrete hillock that passed for terracing, my fellow Liverpool fans joined me in showing our appreciation for the competitively-priced humiliation by urinating everywhere except the corrugated third-world abattoir that doubled as a latrine, shouting ill-informed tactical suggestions at the back of Bruce Grobbelaar’s head and generally willing the apocalypse to come early.
With the game, the title and his perm's curl density ebbing away, inveterate hard-man Souness resolved to address our trouser-p****** capitulation by drawing an early bath for Gary ‘Big Man’ Gillespie and replacing him with Wayne Sleep, or Jimmy Carter as he preferred to be addressed – the first of many judgement errors that would ultimately define a managerial tenure so abysmal the only way I can think of doing it justice is by using 'toilet seat' as an adjective.
So on came Carter in the 34th minute. Signed by, lest we forget, Kenny Dalglish (a timely reminder that even deities can momentarily misplace their discernment, not that I’m in any way suggesting Andy Carroll is the Emperor's New Oaf), his arrival on the park hardly engendering fresh optimism.
To say he'd produced precisely f*** all since his £800,000 arrival from Millwall four months prior would be to tarnish nullity's good name. What’s more, some bright spark had deemed it wise to saddle the spineless goon with the hallowed No.7 shirt – an act of Abu Ghraib-scale barbarity that only served to highlight the man’s already unanimously agreed worthlessness. On reflection, forcing a Magic Hippy to drag his own crucifix up the Hill of Cavalry doesn't seem quite so cruel, does it?
But pity makes for a dull read, so on with the brutal character assignation...
Stationed wide-ish right, I'm guessing Carter's brief was to get forward with the ball somewhere near his feet and “stick it in the mixer…eyebrows, back stick” as offal-tongued institutionalised racist Ron Atkinson would have it phrased.
Jimmy, of course, did nothing of the sort.
Now, if you’d be so kind as to press Pause for me, I need to ask you a quick question… Cheers.
Have you, in all your time watching the sport, ever seen a professional footballer run away from a football? Because I have.
You can press Play now…
As David Burrows attempted to build from the back with a well-weighted pass toward a completely unmarked Carter, rather than collect the ball and actually get involved in some way, Jimmy, possibly off his head on acid, appeared to mistake a gently trundling Mitre Delta for some kind of gigantic bee, s****** himself in the process and backing away from it at pace like a vomiting cat.
It was only when a pre-tactic truck Andy Townsend snaffled the loose ball that Carter snapped out of it, belatedly scampering towards the pig-skin in a bid to create the illusion of a man closing down an opponent. The only problem was, rather than get within a troublesome radius of future-punditry’s least convincing polymath, he stopped about 15 feet short of touch-tight and just jiggled – yes, jiggled – putting on what looked like a mime artist's interpretation of a bluebottle trapped behind some French windows.
Enraged by his intransigent cowardice I lost the power of wit and, with nothing more Wildean to hand, ended up barking "Drink my s****!" at the heavens in a fit of misplaced Anglican fervour.
A touch over-ambitious, the Almighty took a raincheck. And to make matters even more frustrating Carter's invertebrate antics would only get worse. Prancing, flouncing, drifting to the outer reaches of AWOL – I honestly think Charles Hawtrey’s corpse would've made more of an impact on the game.
By the 69th minute Souness had seen enough and hauled Carter off, subbing the sub to an ovation so sarcastic it caused an 8-year irony drought.
Within five minutes of frizzy Israelite Ronnie Rosenthal entering the fray at Carter’s expense we’d pulled the game back from the brink and we’re now, unbelievably, holding our own at 2-2.
It wasn’t to last, and nor was Jimmy: the game ending 4-2, Dixon and Durie killing us off with a late goal rush, and Carter lingering for two more cringeworthy cameos before Souness off-loaded the hopeless eunuch on Arsenal. An uncharacteristically sensible bit of damage limitation, we thought. Right up until he replaced him with soporific Spurs d***bag Paul Stewart.
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook