“Where did the idea come from? It sounds utterly preposterous to me,”
said a bemused Terry John. He was right to be perplexed. The mere notion that mixed football — that is, men and women in the same team — should have been something that was actually adopted as an idea and was now on the brink of overtaking what one might call the traditional game, played by males and females against team made up of their own sexes, was indeed baffling. Well, to this correspondent anyway.
John, the former international defender who made his name as the first transgender manager of a Premier League club when he took London giants Barnet to the title back in 2027, was still none the wiser when I tried to explain its appeal.
Of course, it didn’t help that here we were in 2035 and for the past years John had been in a coma following a fall from the top of a helter-skelter slide at Butlin’s Bognor Regis. John, also known for his time as a player for Chelsea before he hit the dizzy heights with moneybags Barnet, had no recollection of the fall. Tabloid rumours at the time suggested he had been pushed by a former love rival. No names were printed but Nowster, the social media platform that wiped out Twitter, had gone into overdrive naming Dean Mike, the ex-referee, as a potential culprit.
But, anyway, here we were in New York’s plush Algonquin Hotel following a press conference announcing John as the new boss of Big Apple Coke Is Great FC, and, as I say, John was none the wiser. I quickly explained that during the years he’d been “away” in hospital, Barnet had lost all of their money after their benefactor, multi-billionaire Colin Pates, had grown tired of his plaything (a shame as he had spent close to £22billion on the club; every honour in the game followed).
As a result, the Bees had moved out of their 200,000-capacity Pates Park stadium and the Premier League lost a lot of its lustre. That’s when the idea of a Premier League for both sexes, the Gender-Neutral Series (GNS) came about. It took off, massively, of course and now the GNS dwarves the Premier League, once the darling of world club football, and threatens the established global game.
But back to John, and his new role, from his hi-tech electric wheelchair, as Big Apple gaffer. He said:
“For the purposes of this truncated tale, I’ll leave by bemusement at the GNS to one side. To matters at hand, managing the most prestigious side in America is a great thrill. Not since my heady days as boss of the Bees have I been so excited (though there was that buxom nurse who was leaning over me when I eventually came around from the coma — her décolletage was a joy I can tell you).”
To conclude, I plucked up the courage to quiz him on his greatest moment in football. “Easy,” he smiled as he sucked on a fat Cuban (that’s a cigar).
“Beating those pathetic scoundrels at Tottenham 12-0. That was a joy. Have they got their new ground yet, by the way?”