Back in 2006 when beerintheevening.com was the New Testament and hangover’s only lasted until tomorrow lunchtime, my mate Balmers and I often enjoyed a London pub crawl on a Sunday afternoon.
On a jaunt along Mile End Road one cloudy August sabbath, we chanced upon a pub called Soma. It had a horseshoe bar and windows overlooking the main drag, but what really drew us was the dystopian novelist Aldous Huxley, who named soma as the drug of his Brave New World.
It was early in the day and quiet, so when we ordered two pints of Red Stripe and launched into a Huxleyan analysis of east end pubs and their control over society we caught the attention of a woman drinking alone at a table.
She was blonde and probably in her late thirties, more than ten years our senior at the time. Nevertheless, for two single men her smile, femininity and spontaneous conversation made for a sparky introduction. We joined her. It was fun.
At some point I made my excuses and headed to the gents (this wasn’t the first pub of the day). The world has many ways to fleece you out of a pound and one of these was on the wall by the sink – a gumball machine dispensing single-use, chewable toothbrushes.
Buoyed by nothing more than the whisper of a promise only I could hear, I inserted a quid, twisted the handle and received my disappointing Kinder Surprise.
Back in the bar, it wasn’t long before the friendly woman outed herself to us. She was a lesbian, she said, and had come out a few years ago. I suppose she found us entertaining and clocked we weren’t complete tossers. Or she could smell toothpaste.
The easy tone of our conversation thus far, and more Jamaican lager beer, meant we could easily switch to the woman happily answering our innocent questions about her sexuality and life experiences. Privately, I mourned the pound coin.
The woman announced her partner was joining her in the pub soon and she would be delighted to introduce us. Terrific, we said. Another lesbian. Surely she’ll add to the craic.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. The partner arrived and was quite the opposite of her other half. She had a shock of dark cropped hair, wore a jumper of red and black hoops and wasn’t impressed with us at all. It was like meeting Dennis the Menace the day Gnasher died.
In a futile attempt to salvage the day I got in a round. As I stood at the bar, the death knell of our chance encounter sounded behind me: ‘So…which one of you mows the lawn?’
Balmers could be a wally sometimes, but you had to admire his matter-of-fact delivery.
We debriefed in the Blind Beggar on Whitechapel Road.
After the formalities of getting in a couple of pints, finding a table and christening Dennis the Menace, I told Balmers I’d wasted a nugget on a crap toothbrush from a gumball machine.
BEAVERTOWN Brewery could become the new Kenna HQ local after the chairman was spotted drinking there two weekends in a row.
The unorthodox choice is thought to stem from the delicious, cheap beer, which helps visitors overlook they’re spending the best Saturday weather of the year so far in an industrial estate carpark in Tottenham.
Sources close to the chairman say he’s tempted to make the craft beer warehouse a regular haunt.
News the chairman’s head has been turned will come as a blow to Kenna August auction venue hopeful The Westbury in N22.
Just 10 minutes’ walk from Kenna HQ and serving well-kept Brooklyn Lager, The Westbury was widely tipped to become the first pub outside zone 1 to host the auction.
Beavertown’s unusual opening hours – Saturdays only from 2pm to 8pm – are a perfect fit for the Kenna auction, but the lack of rain cover, lack of Sky Sports, lack of hooks under the bar, lack of optics and lack of Scotch egg options are all negatives.
The chairman’s successful organisation of two piss ups in a brewery is being seen as a poke in the chest to those in the Kenna committee who question his abilities to run the league.
“So long as that’s the only place he’s poking us,” said the Young Boys manager.
The chairman refused to be drawn on the subject at this morning’s press conference.
He would only confirm this week’s points would be counted on Thursday, to leave Sunday’s matches alone deciding the Narcozep Cup final between Pikey Scum and Walthamstow Reds.
The latter club made no dent in Young Boys’ lead over the weekend. Reds striker Jermaine Defoe’s performance on Wednesday night is now being touted as the manager’s final throw of the dice in his hunt for a maiden Kenna title, and possibly The Double.
Ahead of the auction the Kenna League chairman made a short address to the 16 managers gathered above The Carpenter’s Arms near Marble Arch.
Traditionally consisting of flimsy and inappropriate jokes about the cultural origins of league members, this 10th anniversary’s Fozzie Bear performance made reference to the number 10 being linked to the average age children are radicalised in Somalia…after reading Treasure Island…as part of the school curriculum.
A classic auction photo. See how the additional challenge of rampant alcoholism has this manager consider tabling a bid for West Bromwich Albion reserve goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.
Managers arriving at Marble Arch tube station that day were greeted by a ‘Free Palestine’ demonstration, which most of them ignored. Except the Piedmonte manager, who turned up to the auction late carrying a placard.
Is this the last ever photo of the Bramble Jersey? The Wigan Athletic shirt thought to have been worn by the notorious defender were among the league effects to disappear after the auction when an errant taxi driver cheesed it.
The fate of Le Maillot Merde, the Bramble bell, auction hammer, Kenna HQ keys and pornographic playing cards are still at the mercy of the Transport for London lost property department.
This year’s auction took six hours, which is a test of stamina for any fantasy football manager. For the Fat Ladies boss, returning to the league after a few years, the event proved too much on liquid alone and he cracked.
Alexander the Great, on some ancient campaign, came across the Gordian Knot: a piece of rope so tangled that the greatest minds in the known world could not untie it. Alexander solved the problem by chopping through the knot with his sword.
Here the Judean Peoples’ Front manager talks a similar approach to a conundrum that has bugged the Kenna since the public smoking ban. How does a pub-based fantasy football auction that usually takes place in upstairs rooms allow managers to chuff on a tab and take part in proceedings?
The chairman thought long and hard about the how best to spend this sum and came up with master plan of half a case of champagne. For those looking to organise their own fantasy football auction, this worked well as managers were instantly talkative and engaged in proceedings.
One learning point for the future would be to not buy as much champagne, for after a couple of hours there was a definite lull. After that memories are sketchy.
TWO of the Kenna’s current powerhouses reacted with dismay after the season’s second transfer window descended in to farce on Friday evening.
Hairy Fadjeetas and Headless Chickens – two of the league’s so-called Big Four – were frozen out of proceedings as managers scrambled to fine tune or radically overhaul their teams in readiness for the business end of the season.
Accusations from the two mangers centre on the fact that league chiefs were unable to organise a piss up in a brewery/use Skype to allow team bosses on overseas scouting missions to bid for players. Skype has been the preferred method of bidding in abstentia for a number of years.
Speaking from an Alpine retreat, the Headless Chickens manager said: “Those at the top need to ask themselves some serious questions. Why we couldn’t engage in proceedings using a freemium voice-over-IP service and instant messaging client, I don’t know.
“I was asked to take part in what could be a season-defining auction using Whatsapp, that’s the digital equivalent of a carrier pigeon. They’re just self-interested Luddites.”
And the Hairy Fadjeetas boss, who recently fired a foul-mouthed salvo across the bows of Kenna HQ, added: “It’s not often that I feel like writing a strongly worded letter, but I am rather annoyed. C*nts.”
Kenna transfers nights are no strangers to controversy. During the Emmanuel Olisadebe 2012 Euros auction, the Horn of Africa threatened to resign his commission after a series of blunders while the very same evening saw the introduction of the pernicious practice known as tactical Brambling – the unloved brainchild of the current FC Testiculadew boss.
The Kenna chairman said: “Promises were made about wifi that weren’t kept.”
SHOCKWAVES from Saturday’s Kenna fantasy football auction are still being felt in London five days on.
The marathon event shook the upstairs bar of the Roebuck in Borough for a record eight hours, as 21 managers worked their way through 232 lots and many more units of Central European lager.
Robin van Persie fetched the highest price of £46m – almost half a Kenna manager’s ton budget – bought over Skype by a mysterious man in Valencia wearing a Panama hat.
At £39m each Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero were the next biggest signings bought by St Reatham FC, the former Woking manager’s new team, and KS West Green, the Chairman’s team, respectively. Both managers steered their teams to relegation last season.
But it wasn’t the ninth annual Kenna auction itself that caused the biggest stir.
Locked in competition for a full shift, the majority of Kenna managers decided to accept the FC Rapid de Cuillons manager’s invitation to a late drink on his Thames boat bar: Bar&Co.
As the complimentary shooters flowed, the pressure of entering the world’s most competitive fantasy football league began to show, with memories of the evening becoming hazier.
Anders Breivik lookalike the Judean Peoples’ Front manager was among a hardened group of post-auction revellers who reported getting home at breakfast time, but he was not the biggest casualty.
Shutting himself into the Kenna HQ situation room with nothing but a case of tinned sardines and the auction wildcards, it took until Wednesday for the Kenna chairman to come to terms with the beast he’d created.
Emerging from his solitary vigil the chairman said: “Up until Saturday many people associated with the Kenna often wished there was more than one auction a year. Not any more.
“Glad as we are to be involved with this great institution, no one’s sanity, home life or alimentary canal could possibly deal with more than one of those sessions in 12 months.”
The first transfer window in October will probably come close.
The league will issue full details of teams and remaining budgets ahead of the season curtain raiser on Saturday at 12.45pm.
PLANS to introduce a new open market system to Kenna transfer windows were unveiled today.
In what league blazers have smugly branded ‘Jeff’s transfer bazaar’, managers selling players in the season’s two windows will only receive what another club is prepared to pay for them. Previously, managers received the price they’d paid for a player.
The announcement comes comes 11 days before the annual Kenna auction, where managers will gather in the pub to buy their teams ahead of the English football season.
In a press conference this afternoon in the saloon bar of the King’s Arms in Waterloo, the chairman said: “Managers will have to be a lot more wary of who they outlay the big money on at the auction. You don’t want to be stuck with a £30m out-of-sorts Andy Carroll on your hands, or even worse a Titus Bramble forfeit player.”
A top secret brochure of players to be sold in set order will be distributed to managers immediately before the auction starts – a move away from the traditional method of managers taking turns to pick players at random.
The chairman has hit back at critics of the plan, who think it will lead to less spontaneity: “To improve the auction experience, every manager will have one wildcard pick each, so that they can introduce a player of their own choosing at any stage of the auction.
“Five selected lots will be sold in a first-price sealed bid auction – where potential buyers will secretly write down their maximum bid, with the highest winning.”
No indication was made of who exactly the forfeit players would be for the auction, but Kenna HQ did confirm a 23-strong squad.
Made up of 11 young or loaned out Premier League footballers (The Bramble Youth) and 11 high-profile individuals who have earned notoriety off the pitch (Titus Bramble’s Pub XI), the Titus Bramble squad will be used as bogey players for managers breaking the rules.
WITH SO many thrills, spills, tears and emotions it’s hard to believe that London 2012 was just the warm act, but tonight it’s finally time for the main event.
Tweeted live from 7pm, the Kenna auction will see around 20 managers gathered around a table bidding to buy their eleven Premier League players for this season’s campaign.
In an act typifying his boundless munificence, the Chairman has issued some top tips for managers to get the most of their experience.
“In order for everyone to buy their teams, we’ll have to clear at least one player a minute. If managers follow some simple pointers, we should have no trouble,” said the Chairman, forgetting that the FC Testiculadew manager has confirmed his attendance.
The Chairman’s top tips
Get there early – proceedings will start at 6.30pm, with the auction starting at 7pm regardless of how many managers are present.
Bring £20 – to give to the treasurer for your entry fee.
Bring a player list and pen – there’s a stationery shortage at Kenna HQ. An inquiry has been launched.
Write down who you buy – seems obvious, but some managers have fallen foul of the Titus Bramble ruling for not doing so in the past.
Plan your picks – if I catch you scratching your head looking stumped, I’ll pick them for you. We don’t have time.
Don’t take it too seriously – it’s a competitive arena, but if you throw your toys out the pram the Treasurer will refund your entry fee and we’ll bid you an upbeat farewell.
A Bramble is for life (or at least until October’s transfer window) – a Titus Bramble player cannot be lost on a Bramble, no matter how much they cost.
Pre-emptive West Cornwall Pasty Co – there’ll be a pub buffet at 8pm, but we’ve all been left with no more than a cocktail sausage and some leftover satay in the past.
A few other items of note:
Anyone arriving in Team GB merchandise will immediately be considered to have bought Ryan Giggs for £10m.
Anyone arriving in London 2012 merchandise will have to buy the committee a round.
Anyone arriving in Olympic accreditation, a Games Maker uniform or a Locog BMW will have to buy the league a round.
FOR THE very first time the annual Kenna League auction is to be tweeted live.
Household names such as Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero and Ricardo Vaz Te will go under the hammer next Wednesday in a City of London pub.
Kenna HQ initially tweeted the Emmanuel Olisadebe auction live ahead of Euro 2012, but this is the first time the domestic season, now in its eighth year, will be broadcast to the world.
“We saw the overwhelming wave of reaction to the Olisadebe tweets and we’re pleased to bring the experience of the Kenna to globe absolutely free of charge,” said the Chairman, referring to his bar bill and the three extra followers gained during the Euro 2012 auction night.
In preparation for the auction, the committee have appointed the Hairy Fadjeetas manager Director of Wry Tweets.
“The overriding reason I’ve accepted this position is because it brings access to the league’s executive Daewoo,” said the new addition to the committee, before shrugging that he probably won’t be able stay to the end of the evening.
The Fadges boss was chosen after his tweeting at the Olisadebe. Some of his wryest offerings from that fateful evening can be found below.
Global economic woes summed up in a bid for French school gates botherer Franck Ribery:
The prospect of two ageing strikers taking on Europe’s elite:
Glib account of the Kenna’s first mid-auction resignation after a Bramble led to the loss of Dutch gnome Arjen Robben (from the bottom up):
Phonetic German side by side with an intimate moment:
IF YOU’RE in a London pub and a gloomy-looking person next to you buys an Apple Sourz because, they claim, ‘I damn near Brambled myself’, then unlike most tipplers of that unusual spirit, this person hasn’t taken complete leave of their senses.
Very close by a meeting of the Kenna League will be in full swing, and this unfortunate at the bar will have bodged their part in proceedings.
Since the Kenna was founded in 2005, a host of phrases and sayings particular only to the purist pursuit of football management have been born.
A number of expressions used by managers are defined below. Most of them common, some from seasons past.
The phrases have been grouped into three categories: those used at the auction, those used in relation to the league’s forfeit procedure and other expressions.
Where applicable, conversational examples of words and phrases in use available.
Auction –Event held before just before English Premier League seasons, World Cups and Euro Cups where managers buy their eleven players for the competition. To the untrained eye can look like a bunch of people in the pub not worried about work the next morning.
Manager A: “Are you going to the auction tonight?”
Manager B: “Yeah, it’ll probably be the usual shambles.”
Mr Chairman – the appropriate way for a manager to address the Chairman during the auction.
Manager A: “Mr Chairman, pint?”
Chairman: “You’re most kind, a Peroni or Heineken would be delightful.”
Manager B (under breath): “Apple polisher.”
Player list – document detailing all the players in the competition and their positions. Any players managers wish to pick not on the player list will have their position decided by the league.
Manager A: “I want to buy Wesley Sneijder, but he’s not on the player list.”
Manager B: “Two things. One: Man U will never buy Sneijder so that’s a complete waste of your budget, and two: he’ll be a midfielder like he was in the Euros.”
Pick – to introduce a player to auction. Managers introducing a player themselves are deemed to have made a minimum bid of point five unless otherwise stated.
Manager A: “I’ll go for Steve Warnock, defender, Aston Villa.”
Manager B: “There must be no one decent left to pick.”
Chairman’s pick – player introduced to the auction by the Chairman when a manager cannot immediately decide who to pick. Managers may also opt for the Chairman to pick. New rule for 2012 to speed up proceedings.
Manager A (looking at the player list and scratching head): “Um…um….um…”
Chairman: “Too slow. Chairman’s pick: Ashley Cole, Chelsea, defender.”
4-4-2 – outdated tactical formation used by the England football team and the official formation of Kenna teams (one goalkeeper, four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers).
Manager A: “Jelavic looks a tasty option up front.”
Manager B: “Yeah, but it’s 4-4-2 and I’ve already got Agbonlahor and Ruiz.”
Budget – the amount of money a manager has for buying players at auction. Each manager starts with £100m.
Manager A: “What budget do you have left?”
Manager B: “I’ve bought Eric Lichaj for £5m and Ryan Nelson for point five, so £94.5m.”
Point five – £0.5m, the lowest sum for which a player can be bought. Also used by managers to nudge up the price of a player during bidding – can be used as ‘and a half’ in this situation.
No point fives after 10 – When bidding for a player goes over £10m, only bids divisible by £1m are accepted. Rule introduced in 2011 to speed up the auction.
Manager A: “Despite his diversity training needs, I’ll bid £21m for Luis Suarez.”
Manager B: “Point five!”
Chairman: “No point fives after 10. You must bid at least £22m.”
The Titus Bramble Ruling
Titus Bramble ruling – mechanism removing an illegal player from a team and replacing him with a forfeit player. Triggered by one of three ways: buying two players from the same Premier League club / country, buying a player that means the overall team budget exceeds £100m or buying too many players in one position. The illegal player will be returned to the pot and is available to be introduced to auction. Named after Sunderland defender Titus Bramble.
Manager A: “Why have you got Marouane Chamakh? He’s awful.”
Manager B: “I went over budget and got snared by the Titus Bramble ruling.”
Titus Bramble player – a forfeit player used in the Titus Bramble ruling, and costing half the amount of player lost. Generally accepted to be of questionable quality. Dubious moral character desirable. Comedy name/characteristic a bonus.
Manager A: “Stewart Downing would make a great Titus Bramble player. He didn’t get any goals or assists last season.
Manager B: “Yeah, and he looks like a little boy who’s lost his mum in a shopping centre.”
The pot – players available to be introduced to auction. Used most often when referring to where a lost player returns in the Titus Bramble ruling.
Manager A: “Is Sergio Aguero back in the pot?”
Manager B: “Yes, he was removed from my team when I was caught Brambling.”
Over time, use of the Titus Bramble ruling has given rise to several derivative expressions based on his name.
Brambling – the act of triggering the Titus Bramble ruling through absent mindedness, either through buying or bidding for an illegal player.
Manager A: “Once I’ve had a few beers there’s a lot more chance I’ll be Brambling.”
Manager B: “Knowing your previous, it wouldn’t even take a cup of mint tea.”
Accidental / incidental Brambling – to bid for a player that would be illegal if bought, but to recognise this before any other manager is affected. This will not trigger the Titus Bramble ruling, but the offending manager must down a shot of Apple Sourz before taking any further part in the auction
Manager A: “I’ll bid £2m on Yohan Cabeye. No wait! I already have a Newcastle player.”
Chairman: “That’s accidental Brambling. Bar.”
Manager B: “Muppet.”
Tactical Brambling – the heinous, foul, debased act of deliberately buying, or attempting to buy, an illegal player to trigger the Titus Bramble ruling and free up funds to gain a financial advantage later on in the auction. In an effort to eradicate this pernicious cancer, regulations were changed in July 2012 whereby all Brambling would result in half the transfer fee being docked. The offender must also down a glass of Pink Gin before taking any further part in the auction
Manager A: “Yes, I know by buying Balotelli for £19m I would lose fellow Man City player David Silva, who cost £33m. However, I would still have a top player and get £14m back into my transfer kitty.”
Manager B: “Tactical Brambling. You disgust me. And under rules you lose £16.5m – half the cost of Silva – and have to neck a Pink Gin. It’s just not worth it.”
Brambled – the past participle is often used reflexively.
Manager A: “Congratulations on buying Robert Huth, but haven’t you already bought Peter Crouch from Stoke City?”
Manager B: “****! I’ve gone and Brambled myself.”
The window – refers to a transfer night where managers release players and then make new signings from the pot. A similar process to the auction.
Manager A: “I can’t wait for the window. I’m bottom of the league.”
Manager B: “Looking at your team, you’ll need more than a transfer night, you’ll need a bloody miracle.”
The Repka Effect – phenomenon occurring when an unfashionable player left in the pot performs better than big-money signings, but still fails to attract interest in the window. Named after former West Ham defender Tomas Repka when the league’s first season in 2005.
Manager A: “The Yak scored loads of points last season and no one picked him in the window.”
Manager B: “That’ll be the Repka Effect.”
The Ramadan Breaker – alternative name for the auction when it’s held in the 30 days after the first sighting of the new moon. The daylight start time can put a strain on fasting activities.
Manager A: “I thought you were fasting, yet you’re on your third pint.”
Manager B: “Yeah, I’ve just eaten a bag of pork scratchings too. The Kenna can be a real Ramadan Breaker.”
Charts and Graphs – the league’s operations department responsible for producing scores, tables and comparative data.
Manager A: “I’m sure Emerson Boyce scored a goal this week, but it hasn’t appeared on the table.”
Manager B: “You’ll want to run that past Charts and Graphs, although if you’re relying on Boyce for goals the window can’t come too soon for you.”
The Chalkstripes – staff in the league’s speculations department responsible for making predictions about anything from future performance of individual players or teams to whether the new admin girl likes being taken up the Oxo Tower.
Manager A: “The Chalkstripes say that Frank Lampard will be the big-money flop this season.”
Manager B: “They also reckon it would be really difficult to wash the blood out of those London 2012 Games Maker uniforms.”
The Oxo Tower – landmark on London’s Southbank with a cocktail bar at the top.
“The Olisabdebe promises to be the best auction yet. When a group of gentlemen met for the first ever auction seven years ago, none of them ever thought it would reach these heights. I wish every manager the best of luck,” said the Chairman.
A brief profile of each competitor can be found below, as well as the teams that failed to qualify and the final standings from the 2010 Doctor Khumalo World Cup.
1. Make Party (Eng) – Having won in South Africa two years ago at the helm of Nelson’s Column, the Make Party manager has the pedigree of international success. Claims this season’s rocky domestic form with Vasco De Beauvoir was down to it being a transitional year.
2. Chernobyl Forlov (Eng) – Came a very close second in 2010 managing South Afrikaans are Rasc1st Santander, and still in the Zurich appeal courts after the Fifa Technical Committee awarded every goal of the tournament to Nelson’s Column midfielder Wesley Sneijder. Will be looking to get one over Make Party. Disappointing in the league this season managing Hairy Fadjeetas.
3. Aston Birra (Cat) – Took a sabbatical from the domestic game this year to keep fresh for the summer. Hoping to better his run out in the Khumalo where his team Nottingham Miedo came a respectable third.
4. Just Put Warsaw (Cat) – Another Catalan doing well in 2010, come fourth with Where’s MaraVilla? Preparations marred by stuttering league campaign with Just Put Carles and Catalan public spat.
5. Bwing on the Euwos (Wal) – A consistent performer at domestic level, with one league title to his name managing Young Boys, the Welshman is yet to win silverware at international level. Mid-table finish at the helm of Paul Gadd’s U16s in 2010.
7. Just FEMEN (Sco) – Disastrous league campaign this season led to her sacking from Polonia Forsyth. Led Anyone But England in disappointing 2010 tournament. Needs to pull her kni… socks up.
8. Welease Wio! (Eng) – Also sacked earlier this month for leading The Dan Terry Seduction to relegation. Provided one of the comedy highlights of the 2010 auction by introducing Scott Chipperfield to the bidding. Probably reading up on useful fly halves, hurdlers and wicketkeeper-batsmen, if reading up at all.
9. The Horn of Africa (Som) – Growing tired of major tournaments hosted by countries with rac1st tendencies. Hopes to better his 2010 performance at the helm of RIP MJ. Impressive domestic season with Spartak Mogadishu.