‘Twas a Happy Day when I – entirely by accident; I actually bothered to ‘View Photo’, for once – came across Mackie’s work on Twitter. So happy, I got in touch and begged permission to write a blog piece (which you can view here, and also on Mackie’s site),
So It’s with utter delight I present to you, cherished readers, his new work, A Modern History of English Football:
Past and present England football managers are gathered together, playing … subbuteo!
Now I Iove soccer. Not the grossly overpaid, hyper-sexed, racist, misogynist, show-pony proponents of the men’s game, but the game itself. Played well at the highest level, it can indeed be the Beautiful Game, a matchless display of skill and physical grace. Sport-wise, little compares to ‘your’ player hitting the back of the net with power and inch-perfect precision from forty yards out. Get in.
Unfortunately for England fans, such a display is as rare as rocking-horse crap. The last few decades have been a bloody nightmare of promise, hope, prayer, followed by gut-churning anguish as the dream disintegrated into a looped nightmare of broken metatarsals, ignominious sendings-off and dismal penalty shoot-outs.
It’s looking like our manager, whoever he is, wherever he’s from, could not, in fact, manage a piss-up in a brewery…
It’s no coincidence then, I think, that Mackie references here Caravaggio’s The Calling of St Matthew, serendipitously featured in a recent post, but, sod it, we’ll have it again:
A gang of low-life shady types are gathered in the gloomy back room of some insalubrious dive, when lo, Christ appears to interrupt their tawdry games of chance.
Roy Hodgson ( Mackie’s figure right, current England manager) as the Messiah? Haha.
But this is what we do, we England fans; we invest in the new incumbent and his team, if not exactly faith, then a kind of desperate desire, praying that he, he will be the one to finally lead us out of The Dark towards the Shining Light of Heaven that is the FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Of course, we know, really, deep-down, that he won’t. Been there, seen that, got the tee-shirt.
And this is Mackie’s gift, to once again capture that frailty, that slightly ridiculous withering of the dream even as it is being dreamt, that is the perpetual lot of the average, not just English but British, male (and female footie fan).
Knowing wryness undercut with empathy, understanding, and a blue, blue melancholy.
Like Caravaggio’s back room, the world of modern professional football can be and very often is, thanks to some of the class-free morons involved, a shamelessly tawdry cum sordid affair, but the game itself remains a fine one.
And that’s what it is: like subbuteo, ‘only a game’.
Well, that’s what we’ll be telling ourselves in 2014, as yet again we heave ourselves off the sofa and, with a deep dispirited sigh, go and put the kettle on.
Mackie’s new work can be seen here: