[insert withering takedown of modern life using Ollie Watkins as a metaphor here]
Turning into the pathway he stopped still and stared into the black.
Sodium lighting in the street was doing little to penetrate the narrow passage and he could only see a few feet of heavy stone wall disappearing into nothingness.
Straining his ears after the dash along the pavement, urging the blood fizzing around his head to stop, he could only make out distant traffic from the London Road until he heard the faint scrape of a footstep up ahead.
He fished out his phone and flicked on the torch. Slowly at first he advanced, the phone illuminating a small circle of light just in front of him. The ground was littered with leaves in various stages of decay, the gauzy halo of lamplight reflected pale greens, white golds and tans. The foliage tangled with broken twigs and heavy rainfall from earlier in the day, all of which squished underneath his shoes. The smell of wet fauna and the cold, smokey aroma of evenings suddenly lengthened filled the air, and it almost felt like the damp and decomposing vegetation underfoot would seep through his leather soles and up his body, bringing with it anxiety, low self-esteem and a sense of doom lapping at his soul. Doctors might call it Seasonal Affective Disorder. Kenna managers knew the sensation simply as ‘the season’.
He ducked under an arched stone bridge, his trepidation and nerves echoing from the grimy walls. Stood upright the other side he paused and listened. Was that another footstep?
He ran. Slowly at first as he bowed to dodge a second arch, but then in full strides, the ends of his breath visible in the jolting ring of torchlight. Hanging birch leaves brushed his head and shoots of ivy lashed his eyes.
If he failed to catch the fleeing form before the end of the lane he knew it would be gone for weeks, only to reappear fleetingly just before the February transfer window.
Surfacing at the other end of the passageway he slowed to the disappointed jog/walk of a commuter styling out just missing the 76 to Waterloo.
That was it. In the quiet street opposite Rowlands Pharmacy – hands on his knees, long deep breaths inflating and collapsing his shoulders – he knew the chase was futile.
Kenna week 6
Full scores available from The Rub.
IF you were given £100m to buy eleven players at a fantasy football auction who should you buy?
For Kenna League managers, of course, who you should buy isn’t the question.
The question is who you shouldn’t buy.
Even with hindsight, here are five players Kenna managers bought at last month’s auction they really shouldn’t have.
Antonio Rudiger (£7m, 0 points) – Craft Beer Wankers
A German international with 80 league appearances in the last three years, Toni Rudiger fetched well over £10m at previous auctions.
The Craft Beer Wankers manager must have thought the centre back was a snip at £7m, only to find Rudiger ‘tried everything’ to Chimbonda his way out of West London after the arrival of Thiago Silva. Three weeks before the auction.
Robert Firmino (£30m, 15 points) – The Chairman’s XI
It’s the worst kept secret in fantasy football: Bobby F is the foil for Sadio Mane and Mo Salah to rack up big points.
No one doubts the talent of the Brazilian or his dentist, but Firmino remains the falsest nine in the league who in five weeks has repaid his £30m price tag with just two assists and a yellow card. The chairman should’ve known better.
Jan Vertonghen (£2m, 0 points) – Thieving Magpies
A Kenna staple for years, the unflappable Belgian attracted an average price tag of £10.5m in the previous six auctions.
The Thieving Magpies manager must have been rubbing his sticky wings together with glee when he signed Vertonghen for just £2m, until he realised 28 days earlier the defender had left for Benfica.
Gabriel Martinelli (£0.5m, 0 points) – Walthamstow Reds
It would be supercilious to include a ‘point five’ in this list, but Martinelli earns his place for his part in one of the most intriguing Titus Bramble forfeits of recent memory.
The Walthamstow Reds manager already had Willian, who in turn had already scored in the opening game of the season. For reasons known only to himself, the Reds manager then illegally bought a second Arsenal player. He explained afterwards he thought he was buying the goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who would have also triggered the Titus Bramble ruling.
As a result, Willian was forfeit as the Reds’ most expensive Arsenal player and replaced with forfeit Bill Cosby. Martinelli is yet to score a point as he recovers from a knee injury he picked up two months before the auction.
Reds are 16th in the league.
Dele Alli (£11m, 3 points) – Barry Town
The end of Alli as the most promising midfield talent in England roughly coincided with the emergence of a Whatsapp video showing Alli’s end coinciding with some promising rough.
The arrival of Jose Mourinho and a host of new midfielders (on the Spurs payroll, not stage left in the Whatsapp video) has seen Alli’s star wane further with just one start and one sub appearance so far this season for Barry Town. Still, his stylist is being kept busy.
Kenna League week 5
Full scores available from The Rub
MESUT Ozil has been disciplined by his club for secretly sending a second to take his place in training sessions.
The German playmaker was found to have paid the club mascot to pretend he was Ozil in a dinosaur suit and attend training on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
A source at Ozil’s Kenna League club Judean Peoples’ Front says it took two days to uncover to the switch because a middle-aged man in an oversized comedy dinosaur suit shuffling around the training ground so resembled the Ozil the coaching staff have come to know.
‘To be honest we were surprised because he appeared to be putting in some effort for once. We thought he was trying to play his way back into the starting eleven,’ said the source.
‘Mesut Ozil has been suspended pending an internal investigation. It would be inappropriate to comment further while the investigation is underway,’ read a statement from club blazers.
It is thought the club investigation will centre on a tweet by Ozil offering to pay the mascot’s wages.
Judean Peoples’ Front have made a slow start to the season, which stems from the manager’s failure to attend the 12 September auction and have his team hatecrimed by autofill.
Asked about his ambitions for the campaign, another JPF midfielder Gareth Bale said: ‘Could you pass my six iron?’
Kenna League week 4
Full scores available from The Rub.
|Kepa Arrizabalaga||CHE||£ 0.50|
|Joel Matip||LIV||£ 0.50|
|John Stones||MCI||£ 0.50|
|Fabian Schär||NEW||£ 0.50|
|Ahmed El Mohamady||AVA||£ 0.50|
|Nathan Redmond||SOU||£ 0.50|
|Dani Ceballos||ARS||£ 0.50|
|Luka Milivojevic||CRY||£ 0.50|
|Tanguy Ndombele||TOT||£ 0.50|
|Odion Ighalo||MUN||£ 0.50|
|Bobby De Cordova-Reid||FUL||£ 0.50|
|Dean Henderson||MUN||£ 0.50|
|Shkodran Mustafi||ARS||£ 0.50|
|Ben Davies||TOT||£ 0.50|
|Tyrone Mings||AVA||£ 0.50|
|Ethan Ampadu||SHU||£ 0.50|
|Ilkay Gündogan||MCI||£ 0.50|
|James Ward-Prowse||SOU||£ 0.50|
|Charlie Austin||WBA||£ 0.50|
|Dwight Gayle||NEW||£ 0.50|
|Emiliano Martínez||AVA||£ 0.50|
|Serge Aurier||TOT||£ 0.50|
|Ainsley Maitland-Niles||ARS||£ 0.50|
|Jack Stephens||SOU||£ 0.50|
|Konstantinos Tsimikas||LIV||£ 0.50|
|Alex Iwobi||EVE||£ 0.50|
|Dennis Praet||LEI||£ 0.50|
|John Lundstram||SHU||£ 0.50|
|Olivier Giroud||CHE||£ 0.50|
|Hal Robson-Kanu||WBA||£ 0.50|
|Tom Heaton||AVA||£ 0.50|
|Benjamin Mendy||MCI||£ 0.50|
|Aaron Cresswell||WHU||£ 0.50|
|Mamadou Sakho||CRY||£ 0.50|
|Eric Bailly||MUN||£ 0.50|
|Gareth Bale||TOT||£ 0.50|
|Mesut Özil||ARS||£ 0.50|
|Callum Hudson-Odoi||CHE||£ 0.50|
|Miguel Almirón||NEW||£ 0.50|
|Shane Long||SOU||£ 0.50|
|Divock Origi||LIV||£ 0.50|
|Lukasz Fabianski||WHU||£ 0.50|
|Thiago Silva||CHE||£ 14.00|
|Toby Alderweireld||TOT||£ 6.00|
|Jack O’Connell||SHU||£ 0.50|
|Gary Cahill||CRY||£ 0.50|
|Nicolas Pépé||ARS||£ 6.00|
|Mohamed Salah||LIV||£ 6.00|
|Kevin De Bruyne||MCI||£ 40.00|
|Youri Tielemans||LEI||£ 0.50|
|Ivan Cavaleiro||FUL||£ 0.50|
|Ollie Watkins||AVA||£ 0.50|
|Hugo Lloris||TOT||£ 0.50|
|João Cancelo||MCI||£ 0.50|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||LIV||£ 30.00|
|Sead Kolasinac||ARS||£ 0.50|
|Luke Ayling||LEE||£ 0.50|
|Leandro Trossard||BHA||£ 0.50|
|Jarrod Bowen||WHU||£ 7.00|
|Oliver Norwood||SHU||£ 0.50|
|Marcus Rashford||MUN||£ 29.00|
|Jamie Vardy||LEI||£ 27.00|
|Che Adams||SOU||£ 2.00|