Wasn’t it refreshing to hear 18-year-old defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold, describing scoring in Liverpool’s Champions League play-off match in Germany (his European debut for a club that seemed to vote ‘Leave’ some years before the referendum) as “indescribable,” ”special” and “a dream?”
Despite being named after a river, you still get the impression that Trent – who has been at Anfield since he was eight years’ old (presumably because the traffic was so bad and his bus was cancelled) – has his feet firmly on the ground and still worships at football’s high altar. Incredibly, he seems to just want to play, well, football.
I was away in Norfolk last weekend with poor telephone and radio signal (which is why there is so much noise rather than communication when canaries get together) so wasn’t able to gorge myself fully on the Premier League’s first weekend. Appropriately, my first match of the season came on Sunday, courtesy of Sky, at Newcastle as Rafa’s ubiquitous three-piece suit reflected his side’s three-bob quality.
Beforehand, the pundits of Graeme Souness and Gary Neville talked about Chelsea and Manchester United – so bored were they at the foregone conclusion of Spurs painting the Toon in colour rather than black and white. Thierry Henry reminded us all how tall he still is and they all took sympathy on Alan Pardew who, despite being unfit for football management anymore, proved comprehensively that, with that hair colour, he could pose as a pretty effective street lamp should austerity cuts continue.
Imagine my surprise when Kyle Walker re-appeared for Tottenham – this time with an extra name (Peters) which suggested to me that he had been part of a civil marriage ceremony in the meantime. Even by Daniel Levy’s standards, it seemed like a true miracle that he could turn water into wine, sell it for a small fortune, and still be able to drink from the fountain.
Then the penny dropped (much as the pounds do when Sky comes to visit) and I realised that Kyle is one of the new disciples, hence his naming himself after Peter. My mission, therefore, became one of finding the other eleven and working out whether they worship football, as Trent (and probably the new Kyle – at the moment, anyway) do, or the storing up of riches on earth.
As they say on ‘Long Lost Families’ my task was made more difficult because people’s names change. In my case, the extra name often doesn’t appear at all – it is just assumed.
Born-again-Wayne Rooney-Simons was an easy spot, being a firm nationalist and heading toward immortality or the Bramley Moore mortuary depending on whether you a Blue or a Red.
Similarly, Diego Costa-James-the-Lesser was straightforward, being fiery and uncompromising. Legend has it that his body was sawed in pieces. A Homebase receipt has it that Antonio Conte bought a new saw last week.
Jonjo Shelvey appeared in a Moses role for a while at Newcastle. His original aim was to lead his people to the promised land of the Premier League but, once there, he quickly reverted to type by trying to permanently ground the equally fiery Dele Alli-Jude. JonJo (‘John’ to those who are too lazy to speak in tongues and say the full name) has a little-known middle name – Boanerges – which means ‘son of Thunder’ and probably explains quite a bit about black clouds, if not white mist.
James Milner-Philips was quite easy to recognise as a player who would do anything for anyone and do anything to anyone if they get in the Milner way. James agreed to play in defence for Liverpool to help uphold the pretence of there actually being a defence.
Danny Rose-Thomas proved that everyone hates a pessimist, while Paul Pogba-Matthews continues to prove that everyone hates money-collectors and that a name alone cannot always make you good at football.
Olivier Giroud-Bartholomews, despite being flayed with knives at every opportunity, proved again that people should have more faith; Riyad Mahrez-James-the-Elder showed typical forgiveness to Craig Shakespeare for not writing him out of play when others failed to write cheques, while fisherman, Jermain Defoe-Andrews, continues his lifelong love of the English coastline at Bournemouth.
The hardest disciple to spot was, of course, the one who truly rejected football for fortune. Initially, I thought there might be a couple of contenders at Arsenal but it became clear to me in a vision of the BBC News page that, in fact, Gylfi Sigurdsson-Judas was that man. Rejecting Swansea City – the club that truly helped to make his name, along with lots of free singing – Gylfi appears to be prepared to accept about forty-five million pieces of silver to join the missionary work being done by Ronald-Koeman-Baptist.
Whether Kyle-Walker-Peters is eventually crucified on the crosses of either media or money, it’s good to know that where there are disciples, there will always be something to follow.