Wednesday, March 7, 2007

What’s in a name? Plenty, if the name is Pele - allwell

“Don’t be so soft.”

My reaction to hearing that Pele was plying his trade in England was in no way a reference to the great man’s evangelical approval of Viagra. It was more an expression of disbelief at a story so implausible. But stranger things have happened this season - each new development at Upton Park for example - so I felt compelled to consider the possibilities.

Perhaps Chelsea had invested their fortune in a time-travelling contraption, enabling the Special One to assemble of team of legends - galacticos across the ages - all at their peak. Visitors to Stamford Bridge would marvel at Pele and Maradona lining up alongside the likes of Puskas, Cruyff and even Billy Whitehurst. It would almost justify the admission fee.

The prime suspects, however, were Garforth Town. They would sign the present day, 66 year old Brazilian in a flash. After all, in November 2004 they persuaded Socrates to make a cameo appearance in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division. That’s right, Socrates, the medically-qualified, chain-smoking Che Guevara look-a-like style-meister who, with the grace and athleticism of a gazelle, choreographed and captained those beguiling Brazilians of 1982.

The interest generated by the 2004 version was substantial; so too, sadly, was our hero’s frame. Now with the grace and athleticism of a moose, he lasted little more than 10 minutes, most of which he spent gasping like a freshly landed fish. Whether he then returned home or earned a big-money transfer to Newcastle United, I really can’t recall.

As long as Garforth check FIFA’s list of banned substances, they might enjoy better luck with Pele. Fuelled by Viagra and rampaging around Wheatley Park, the priapic maestro would treat spectators to his full repertoire of tricks: an outrageous dummy, a cheeky chip, a bicycle kick. Everything, with the possible exception of a lazy lob.

To my disappointment, I discovered that the man in question was not the Pele, but a Pele, a Portuguese defender signed in the summer by Southampton. This raised a question even more pressing than why it had taken seven months for this matter to come to my Premiership-obsessed attention: what kind of name is Pele to give to a child? All dreams of accountancy dashed, he is forced into a life of football. Unless then hailed as the greatest player of his generation he becomes a failure, an embarrassment to the name.

Isn’t life a difficult enough journey without the weighty burden of expectation? Enveloping and invading the mind, it influences every thought and deed. It suffocates, leaving its victim drained of confidence, bereft of creativity, broken of spirit, stultified. Just ask anybody who represented England in last year’s World Cup.

Admittedly, European Cup winner Abedi Pele did all right, but imagine his achievements had his parents been a little more prosaic in their choice of name. I won‘t make the same mistake, and that’s why any son of mine will be called Sharon. Or Gary Neville.


MotM said...

V good.

I had a feeling Gary Neville was going to be name-checked and you didn't let me down.

I nearly did a piece myself on appropriate names - the long even paced intonation followed by the abrupt surname, that always makes me think of a 1500 metre race with a sprint finish, embedded in the name Sebastian Coe.

Presumably there are Mr and Mrs Bests out there happy to call their little offspring George, and Mr and Mrs Stiles out there happy to call their baby son Nobby - well maybe not.

Ebren said...

Just thought I'd say how much I enjoyed this. Very funny.

olivier said...


in French, pelé means either peeled, mangy, or bare. Or even bald, as in the mountain.

There are two of them playing in Ligue Un. It's their family name. One is a goalkeeper. Smart choice.

andrewm said...

".... the grace and athleticism of a moose ...." - I love it.

The name thing always bothers me as well. People who call their kids Jesus - what are you doing??? Talk about having something to live up to :o)

allwell said...

Thanks for the comments.

I must admit to being a bit crushed when this didn't make what was quite a long short-list last week.

On the basis that this is pretty much the best I can do, I've been at a loss to come up with anything for this week's Big Blogger.

Still, whatever I do cobble together and no matter how quickly the GU team spike it, I will ask Ebren to stick it on here next week.

allwell said...


I like that pele has a meaning in French, especially if that meaning if mangy.

On a related note, I recently learned that "elan", a remarkably French-sounding word that means style or panache in English, actually means "moose" in French.

That tickled me so much that I wrote a whole article on the thought of West Ham leaping through the transfer window with some elan. I attempted to conjure the image of the Hammers squad, as some kind of bonding exercise, running around Chadwell Heath with a herd of Moose. Nobody was very impressed.

bluedaddy said...

Pele's son was a goalkeeper, and is currently GK coach at Santos. He has not had an easy time.

In terms of Big Blogger, I think it might be a bit light subject wise, but it reads really well, and has a nice structure. Sorry if that all sounds a bit dry allwell. I liked it.

MotM said...

allwell - don't be disheartened.

The Big Blogger keeps asking for funny stuff, but there are very few laughs in any of the nine winners. I have had hon menshes in weeks 1 and 3, but not week 2 for which I submitted 4 pieces (see below) three of which are "trying to be funny". My explanation is that if there are three judges, two laugh, one scowls and the piece hits the spike.

Being funny about sport isn't easy, but it's great fun to write and to read. This piece of yours made me smile and laugh on a rough old day. Stick at it.

I'm doing one funny and one straight for next week.

greengrass said...

I assume that this extreme fascination with Man United players reflects pure, unadulterated jealousy.
P.S. Isn't the artist known as Pele actually called "Edson Arantes do Nascimento" or summat?
P.P.S. allwell - writing to make people laugh isn't easy, but it's nice to see someone have a stab at it. Glendenning's sense of "humour" seems to carry a lot of weight at GU.
Good luck!

MotM said...

GG - Glendenning's sense of "humour"? Now that is funny.

Tweet it, digg it