Sunday, March 4, 2007

On second thoughts.........Carl Leaburn - 50KaWeekSub

"Peter Crouch should marry a short, fat woman - that way his kids will look normal." No, this isn’t a genetically innovative cloning technique to enhance the human race; just some innocent musings from my 9 year old nephew; but it got me thinking:

Phil Neville, Owen Hargreaves, David James and Crouch - what do they have in common? Nothing, actually, but the latter three are reformed jesters in the public eye, one for displaying the dying art of passion, "Calamity" for some long overdue good form and Crouchy rather ironically because of a robotic dance. Neville it seems is cemented eternally at first-base.

Carl Leaburn was a laughable, lamentable figure to many, managing to combine the uniqueness of not being particularly quick, neither good in the air nor on the turf. In fact, if you had to put your finger on it, he wasn't much good at anything, aside from being incredibly bad: He was an apprentice at Charlton in the mid eighties making his debut in 1987 aged 18 . Leaburn was a striker who had more dry periods than a menopausal mother-in-law, netting only three times in his first 100 games with the club.

He was an old fashioned target man, 6 foot 3 with a menacing look but the ball never stuck. He moved around the pitch like a baby giraffe taking it's first steps, often torpedoing tragically to ground, elbows and long tangled legs everywhere, wearing a repeatedly bemused expression every time things went wrong. He was a lost soul in the cruel spotlight, chasing illustrious shadows, a fallible figure working tirelessly but ultimately failing at every turn. Carl Leaburn was like a bad wine - getting worse with age - tellingly unaware of the commotion that he was causing.

Despite, or maybe because of all this; Leaburn was a celebrity figure; like any cult, us followers joined in without really knowing why we were doing it; we idolised him just because everybody else did. For me, it was in the eyes; his eyes showed that passion; that will to win and this somehow transcended beyond mere performance; beyond his failings. Shouts of “Leeaaaburn, Leaaaburn” would reverberate around the stadium and would more than drown out the groaning and cruel cackles of laughter at his latest boob. Vendors were selling T-shirts with “I saw Leaburn score,” life was good. Unlike Drogba with his fake yelps of mid-air pain or Ronaldo with that effeminate wink, Leaburn was a real man trying hard to do his job but ultimately failing at every turn. He didn’t know how to cheat, ruffle defenders, dive or badger referees; he barely knew how to play football.

And then - something remarkable happened. Leaburn returned the love to his fans by managing to score fifteen goals in a season almost ten years after his club debut. He even scored at Old Trafford - the support group had worked and our faith had been repaid. The following year in 1997 he moved to Wimbledon for an initial and final £150,000 seemingly at the peak of his powers, but alas his purple patch has come and gone and he soon moved on to non-league football. It didn’t matter; the cult of Carl Leaburn would live on.


andrewm said...

Very good article 50k, even if the mother-in-law line did put me off my breakfast.

It always comes down to this: genuine fans will forgive a player anything if they're really trying. All we want is to see the effort.

I sometimes think I'd rather my side was filled with honest journeymen and flirted with relegation every season, rather than overpaid mercenaries who always finish third.

Ebren said...

I remember when Wimbledon signed him, the club was in the best season it (perhaps) ever had in the league when he was signed.

Quote from one of my Dons mates: "We don't need another 10-goal-a-season striker."

Turns out that was wildly optimistic.

MotM said...

I remember seeing Leaburn in the flesh warming up and thinking "Oh Oh". Fash had always played well against Everton and led Wimbledon to a 3-0 FA Cup win at Plough Lane in the late 80s when Everton were still a good side. That defeat was almost as bad as the Rush game.

As soon as the match started, you couldn't believe he was a pro. Heart yes, skill no.

A perfect subjest for an "On Second Thoughts" which should be posted and lead to an excellent blog. GU probably don't pay 50k a week, but they should pay for this fine effort.

allwell said...

Excellent article 50K. The standard on here is really quite high isn't it?

If I may be pedantic, the "ultimately failing at every turn" was a great line, but you included it twice.

Apart from that, great stuff.

bluedaddy said...

Everyone has their favourite tryer I think. Funnily enough, although there is more than enough evidence to convict Vinnie Jones as a total twat, I cannot help but admire the way he has gone beyond all expectations as a footballer, and as an actor. He must have incredible willpower.
But he is a twat.

Anonymous said...

Carl Leaburn was the reason Charlton scored most of their goals back then. He held the ball up and layed it of...the opposition couldn't handle him half the time. Great guy and a very useful player to have on the team. Go look at some of the highlight reels...

Anonymous said...

weird article, alot of totally incorrect info and I am not sure what you are really trying to say? better luck next time

Tweet it, digg it