A long time ago, football transfers didn’t involve millions.
In fact, £1000 was a huge whack of cash. Alf Common cost that much in 1905, setting a new record.
Now, you can win a grand for recording four clips on your phone of a cat running into a glass door and sending them in to You’ve Been Framed.
Until the last few years, in the drama of transfers, Newcastle United have been more than a cat with a £250 quid debt to pay off.
We’ve been A-list stars, cliffhangers and the Sunday omnibus special.
We’ve been Nick Cotton appearing through the door in ‘Eastenders’. “Hallo, Ma! I’m back, and I’ve bought Les Ferdinand!”
We’ve been Darth Toon: “Search your feelings, Andy Cole. You know Manchester United to be true!”
And every now and then, we’ve been the difficult, serious movie after the comedy. Step forward Jon Dahl Tomasson. No, you can’t wear your Champions League medal in here, son.
Keegan as a player set the city sailing into an ocean of dreams, and our hopes rode on the crest of that wave long after the helicopter took him away.
Even after drivel and near oblivion, there was always the hope of one more, utterly bonkers signing that would quicken the heart. And this is why I don’t like transfer deadline day. Or Transfer Deadline Day! as TV seems to call it.
You know it’s coming.
You know that you are either going to be quite pleased, or have your hopes shoved in your face once more. You know that one of the teams with a novelty sized cheque book is going to pay an inordinate sum of money for someone who might well score against us. And because of this, it isn’t as much fun as the apparently spontaneous deals of the past.
Before Transfer Deadline Day! you could tell people where you were when you heard about signing such and such utter legend.
Now that we have Transfer Deadline Day!, you were probably watching the telly.
Or at work.
Or at work watching the telly if you work in a telly shop.
Remember when telly rental shops used to put all of the tellies in the window on the football pages from CEEFAX on Saturday afternoons? Grown men would commune to watch a screen refresh with score updates and transfer news. Or possibly not. It was really exciting.
Transfer Deadline Day! is like being sold something that used to be free.
It could also be the pain of knowledge. My little lad, Tom, asked me if we would sign Lionel Messi. Hmm. No, son. For us to release the sell clause we would have to sell the ground, players, every asset and naming right. And the Mr Messi (imagine the T-shirts!) would have to play ‘fogg man back, nee blasties’. I know that this is not going to happen.
Pre- Transfer Deadline Day! and well, you never were quite sure.
Transfer Deadline Day! is the equivalent of being warned that The Sopranos may contain scenes of a violent nature. I know it will, but you’re still spoiling it.
Now, Tony Soprano signing on a three year contract for an undisclosed sum… That’d be even better than a cat accidentally turning on a hair dryer.