Sylvan Ebanks-Blake Syndrome

Posted by on Oct 23, 2009 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Sometimes things just become so awful, so mind crushingly free of spark, that we are forced to seek solace among the ranks of the departed. We sit, head in hands, watching Gary Sawyer heading wide again, Brynjar Gunnarsson loping after a more fleet footed adversary, Clint Hill coming late to a challenge or Wes Morgan firing the ball over everyone’s heads into touch, and think to ourselves, enough is enough, remember Tommy Tynan, Michael Gilkes, Ian Wright and Ian Woan.

My fellow blogger Lloyd and I have identified this tendency as “Sylvan Ebanks-Blake Syndrome”. A paucity of current talent will lead one to hark back fondly to former days and take pleasure from the continued exploits of former heroes. Hence, in my case, I’ll be thrilled by every one of Kevin Doyle’s strikes for Wolves; in Lloyd’s, he’ll ask after Akos Buzsaky’s QPR displays. We’ll ferret through the team sheets of other clubs for evidence of an ex-Royal or Pilgrim who is still doing the business. Where Jobi McAnuff and Cillian Sheridan fail to inspire us, we’ll turn to Nicky Forster or Paul Wotton.

But sometimes even this can be degrading: disappointment at the hapless performances of Ibrahima Sonko, Nicky Shorey and Peter Halmosi will lead us to look down the leagues, ever further, in an attempt to identify someone – anyone – with Blue and White hooped or Green associations performing respectably. Hence, in recent weeks, a Yannick Bolasie stunner for Barnet and a James Henry hat trick for Millwall became rare seasonal highlights – something to brag about down the pub, albeit quietly: “he’s on loan from us, you know”. I even take a note of the emergence of Stuart Beavon, though he be the son of an ex-favourite and no more.

Shaka Hislop remained one of my favourites long after he departed Reading and Lloyd will still corner you to wax lyrical about David Norris. We’ll overlook the small fact that they no longer turn out for us, we’ll be outraged that others don’t remember them as Reading or Plymouth players, we’ll wait – not at all patiently – for new heroes to emerge.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

7 Comments

  1. Ben
    October 26, 2009

    Er, so what does it say about Marlon Harewood's performance at the City Ground the other weekend that Wes Morgan was arguably the best player on the pitch (if not also the most keen on changing shirts with his man prior to the final whistle)?

    As a Newcastle fan, I do often find myself following the exploits of old boys – usually because I've been stung into remembering them as they've just turned in a goalscoring and/or man-of-the-match-winning performance against us… Still, I'm rooting for Man City to win something this year just so Shay Given gets his mitts on some silverware.

    Reply
  2. Matt R
    October 27, 2009

    I still have a match programme from the early nineties when Shaka is listed as simply “Neil Hislop”. I hold on to it because nobody believes me…

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  3. gerschenkron
    October 27, 2009

    I find this can go either way – if EBS exists in taking pleasure from a departed player's performance elsewhere (which is a bit Keith-from-Marion-and-Geoff-like to be honest – 'I don't feel I've lost a wife, I've gained a friend') then the other side of that coin is the delightful feeling that rises up when a departed son fails – now what would you call that syndrome?

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  4. Lanterne Rouge
    October 27, 2009

    Good question although it would have to be someone you didn't wish well – Pierre van Hooijdonk syndrome? Matt R might like to coin it “Brendan Rodgers Syndrome”?

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  5. Lloyd
    October 27, 2009

    Also, what about players who nearly joined you, but didn't? This can be used either way, depending on how you're feeling. If he's doing well (let's call him Glenn Whelan for argument's sake) and you've just lost a seventh game on the trot, then great. Alternatively, if the roles are reversed then you can have a good old laugh at his expense.

    This is a can of worms.

    Reply
  6. gerschenkron
    October 28, 2009

    Indeed, a whole taxonomy of psychological responses to football events several miles from one's control is probably required.

    Another example is when a player nearly joins a hated rival but doesn't (is every goal scored also one against the hated rival?) or when a player leaves a hated rival which creates a huge problem for said hated rival – a sudden liking for the player in question is hard to ignore. Is this a dictionary of schadenfreude?

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  7. Matt R
    October 28, 2009

    Lantern Rouge – bloody right. Although I think it would be stretching credibility to suggest that he was the first (even at Watford, let alone anywhere else) to earn such status and (therefore?) to name the syndrome.

    Reply

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