YOU can almost see Brian Coleman reaching the end of a blogpost, pressing ‘publish’ with a theatrical punch of the keyboard and then sitting back in his chair and cackling to himself about how he’s really put the cat among the pigeons this time. Again.
The Coleman mantra has always seemed to be: It’s better to be talked about than not at all. And here I am talking about him. And so, again, are all the people on the internet who are meant to have taken such an angry dislike to this most controversial of local politicians.
Its his latest ‘The King Of Bling Is Back’ postings that can’t help but trigger a reaction. They are mainly about developments in the neighbouring borough which I haven’t been keeping up with, but it’s clear that in contrast to David Lammy in Tottenham and Jeremy Corbyn in Islington that keeping the local football team, Barnet FC in the local Barnet area is not of much interest to the former Conservative London Assembly member. Naturally Coleman, whose memoirs are in the pipeline, can’t just resist throwing in a blog bomb too:
For someone who has little interest in Football, although I did attend Barnet v Port Vale at Underhill a couple of years ago, and once slept with an Arsenal striker, I am not fussed if Barnet survive in the Football League or bothered where they play.
Poor old Barnet, but what was that bit in the middle? You slept with an Arsenal striker? Just the kind of thing you drop in mid-sentence.
What’s sadder than this blatant shard of lookatmeism from Coleman, is that the unpalatable but purely natural reaction to reading it from nearly all of us is likely to be: Oooooh, who could he mean? Who does he mean?
I plead guilty, it’s a natural thing to wonder if you are interested in Arsenal and its history, and a bit of north London politics too. Yet before you know it you feel like you have stumbled into the unwanted role of gayfinder general trying to root out the homosexual in the Panini stickerbooks. Thanks for that Brian… thank you very much.
The sad thing is that I can’t remember any player at Arsenal over the decades being out and proud, when – in crude terms – the law of probabilities would suggest that among the hundreds of players who have played for the club there must have been, hey, at least one. As much as boozed up Arsenal fans talk about wanting to sleep with Thierry Henry because they love him so much, the truth is homophobia still lurks in the stands and, you might reasonably assume, in some changing rooms around the world as well. I still remember people around me at Highbury chanting ‘you couldn’t score with your brother’ to John Fashanu. In Barnet, there was apparently an up-the-Arsenal ‘joke’ going around after Mr Coleman’s posted his provocative thoughts online.
Those footballers who have come out have been brave given the game’s uncompromising macho culture. The American player Robbie Rogers, who used to play for Leeds, came out last week but decided to step away from the game at the same time.
Others have kept silent and live in a world kept secret. Right or wrong, flings and one night stands involving celebrities and politicians – and footballers – are gossiped about whatever the sexuality of those involved. But in football’s fantasy parallel universe to real life where every single man is straight, there is a climate where Coleman’s boastful anecdote sets up an uneasy game of Guess Who? It’s a guessing game not just to find out who went to bed with a Tory politician, but also for somebody who probably felt they had to go to great lengths to hide their sexuality from their divided profession.
Does he have a moustache? Is he wearing a hat? Did he ever score against Spurs?