Saturday, 18 April 2009

Ornithological flocking

A few years ago I was lucky enough to go on holiday to The Gambia. Apart from it being one of the most beautiful countries in West Africa, it also had the added advantage of further feeding my football obsession, as just about everyone that I met wanted to talk about football in general and English football in particular. It led to some of the most surreal evenings watching football, which I've mentioned before.

However, one of the other things that The Gambia is famous for is its plethora of bird life. From exotic Blue-bellied Rollers to the exotically named Senegal thick-knee (it does exist - and I'll let you insert your own El-Haj Doiuf joke) they all fly around the lush countryside of Gambia. At the hotel I stayed at, the two characters in the photo spent every day going through the bins, looking for scraps to feed off. These Vultures are huge versions of scavenging Starlings, they were also comedic as they would battle each other over a bread roll in the most ungainly scraping since Bowyer and Dyer. As I was on holiday with a couple of Man City fans, these vultures were quickly given the nicknames Dunne and Distin and became woven into the fabric of our two weeks.

It now feels like the Vultures are now circling over SJP, eyeing up whatever can be picked over for entertainment. As ever, the media is there to watch the oncoming train-wreck as they expect Newcastle to stumble to the Championship - but the fact that the next four games are being shown live on TV (as was last weeks Stoke game) seems to be an unhealthy interest. I understand the economics of this - after all Sentana are are going to sell more pay per view games to distraught Toon fans than worried Middlesbrough fans... because there a twice as many of us than the Smogmonsters. However, it does smack a bit of voyeurism. They aren't going to let Newcastle gently fade away - but then again I wouldn't want it any other way.

The Vultures are already starting to pick over the bones of the team as well. The Shearer/Martins spat seems to be a pre-cursor for Obafemi heading to pastures new during the summer. It doesn't take a genius to read between the lines, when the Assistant Manager has to come out and say that everything is really alright with Martins and that he's important to the club. Somehow I'd just bet that Dowie had his fingers crossed behind his back.

You can almost hear the sniggering as they gleefully announce that Viduka is getting ready for his 97th comeback game this season, just in time for the Spurs game - on Sunday. I'd be delighted if the Gregg's worrier scored the goals to keep Newcastle up, but there is as much chance of that happening as the two in the picture turning up in my back garden this afternoon.

Still, I'll have a houseful on Sunday, gathered round the TV, fervently hoping for a Toon win. If the unexpected did happen and Newcastle leave the capital with 3 points then maybe the Vultures will have to circle a little higher, for a week at least.

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