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Monday, 09 April 2012

Did Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley really play football together?

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As football fans, in our lives rarely is there a greater spectacle than a mouth-watering Champions League semi-final between two expensively assembled sides. Rarely is there a more exciting prospect than the thought of Arsenal and Manchester City at loggerheads, with both teams in need of three points; for Arsenal to royally p*ss off Spurs fans by celebrating Saint Totteringham’s day, and for Manchester City to turn Alex Ferguson’s nose a brighter shade of purple – if possible – by keeping the heat on for the Premier League title. Never a dull moment, in football.

Tell a lie, watching Aston Villa and Bolton faff around with desperately, almost Mark Lawrenson-esque limp wrists isn’t too enthralling. In fact, it’s like sitting down and staring at your toaster in the futile hope it might start firing out a million pieces of burnt bread like a Buffalo rifle. Or waiting for a TV show to exist that actually isn’t presented by Phillip Schofield. Or listening to Radio One and not having even the slightest temptation to inject a chamberful of morphine and save your ears the insult of Chris Moyle’s obnoxious, garrulous, you-just-know-he-spits-when-he-talks-and-from-the-sound-of-him-probably-only-showers-twice-a-week voice.

Not ‘gonna happen, I’m afraid. Nadda-zip. Never. No chance. Fat chance. Thin chance (?) Zero, and a thousand other phrases that illustrate my point. Gladly for us footy addicts, football – and the Premier League - is entertaining enough. Sure, you get a dud every now and then – just like in every aspect of life - but it’s an addiction. And for all the addiction’s lows, the highs are bloody well sweet enough to keep you meeting your drug dealer – I’m picturing a heavily-hooded and unshaven Jeff Stelling (with Gary Neville as the robotic, silent, leather glove wearing getaway driver) – down the dormant alley-way for your latest fix. Sure, sometimes Alex McLeish and Big Sham (the fun police) catch the delightfully enigmatic Jeff and leave us broken, bloody messes on the floor, wanting to pop our eyes out with butter knives. But we get that entertaining fix enough.

But though this is a late article on a picture that was released in 2011.

Bob Marley

Here is an occasion where football may just come second best. I guess you could say I’m here to stir it up. After all, the picture has ‘so much things to say’. Awful puns I'm sure you'll agree, but here is indeed an occasion where football might just be the silver ribbon; the Michael Ballack of winner’s medals; the Henning Berg of blokes that just look a bit strange with no hair. It’s just a picture. But it’s a picture that is so cool your face might implode upon first viewing. It’s even cooler than the way Nicholas Cage seems to have sprinkled evergreen on his hair when he was a youngster (God only knows how he has so much more hair now than 20 years ago). It’s – it might be - Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley playing football. Kicking the leather skin around, and all that.

Just imagine that. Bob Marley, the relaxed demon of Reggae; the dreadlock-haired icon of Cannabis, peace and insightful thinking; amorous as a soldier ant but twice as loyal, at least to his musical roots, I mean. And then someone who may even be cooler. In fact, someone who is the coolest person I have ever seen. The wire-haired, afro-loving, guitar-note shredding master of charisma and style; Jimi Hendrix. Both two men who had it all. Both two men who lost their lives - or life lost them - so insultingly early. Both two men whose musical contribution can never be forgotten and both two men who, if they could see the way people mourned their youthful deaths, would probably tell you to light up a big one and start puffing and guitar-picking away.

Them playing our timeless game. Football should feel honoured! The idea of two of my favourite musicians coming together to play my favourite sport is too epic, as is simply the idea of two worlds - football and music, eached steeped in history and grandeur - coming together in unholy matrimony; visiting other earths. It's just a picture. But it's so fascinating.

This picture is a true Purple Haze of football paradise. The levels of cool in the picture are manic. They are insane. They are frightening when we realise we could never hope to be as cool as they are. They are Hendrix and Marley playing least that’s what we hope.

You see, it isn’t a perfectly immortalised picture of football’s inherently infectious nature. It might be photo-shopped or simply a guy that looks like Hendrix playing football. History tells us Bob Marley only had his hair dreadlocked in 1976. What’s wrong with that? Hendrix died in 1970. And though Jimi (and Bruce Forsyth's chin) probably have the divine power to kick death's arse, surely we would have heard from him, had he not really died just as the decade began.

Attitudes to the photo are mixed but the general consensus is one of desire for the picture to be as true as its shallow surface informs us it is. We'll probably never know. Gladly, that means the myth can live on!

I mean come on, who doesn’t want to believe these two titans of music knocked the ball around a few times backstage? Or maybe, under the influence of drugs, they didn’t need to physically touch the ball but they simply glared at it, and it levitated under their all-powerful spell? That would be cool. Doubts remain but I know what I want to believe – even if it may be false hope. To shoot the proverbial Sheriff on this one would be too much of a reality check. To stand up next to this mountainous picture – only to chop it down with the edge of our hands – is too cold in the face of the warmth it appears to bring.

A meeting between two musical icons – the Voodoo Child in all his frilly-clothed glory - and the self-confessed killer of Sheriff John Brown (but not his deputy) having a kick around. I hope, I hope, I hope this Watchtower’s truth runs all the way along. - Football News & Transfers

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Colin Illingworth



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