Friday, October 06, 2006

President Carsley Looks Back

President Lee Carsley, still fit and virile in his 78th year, settles himself into his favourite, fireside chair in the old drawing room of Aras an Uachtaráin. Fittingly, it is an elegant, yet sturdy piece; antique, yet vibrantly alive. The president, nursing a medicinal measure of Midleton Very Rare, is gazing wistfully out of the vast bay window, across Phoenix Park, in contemplation of the weekend in October 2006 that changed his life, and his country....

TSA: Uachtaráin, can you cast your mind back to that Saturday, the infamous game against Cyprus, and tell us what ran through your head as the Cypriots sixth goal flew beyond Paddy Kenny?

L.C.: Well, I had been aware of the clamour for my involvement in that game from the Irish press and, more pertinently, the Irish people. I had heard that the newspapers - of course this was in the days when people still went out and actually bought their 'news' on 'paper', lovely elegant things they were - and the radio stations had been campaigning and whatnot all week. I kept a dignified silence at that stage. But yes, indeed, when it became apparent that the national team was in desparate trouble, I was, you might say, steeled with the furnace heat of patriotic resolve.

TSA: Ah, yes, of course, how could we forget the famous words of your speech to the nation following victory in the war with Denmark. But that Saturday evening, at your home in the North of England, were you surprised by the mass demonstrations demanding your return that broke out all over Ireland?

L.C.: Not just Ireland, TSA, no, in South Boston, London, Glasgow, Birmingham, anywhere the Gael had fled, the people came out as one. Now, I was, of course deeply cognisant of the tremendous love for me which the Irish people had always retained since my highly successful earlier spell playing for the country. I fondly remember my name being chanted from the old terraces of Lansdowne Road: "Lee Carsley is rucking might", was one I believe - a paean to my determined style of play I believe and strange sounding chant to the modern ear, but those were different times. So yes, when the mass demonstrations occurred, I was, of course, flattered, but they were not, you might say, unexpected.

TSA: And for those few who do not recall what happened next, you were, of course, rushed to Dublin during the night, and appointed captain and manager of the national team in an emergency meeting of the FAI board. Now, one of the fondest tales told about you regards your treatment of your fallen predecessor, Stephen Staunton.

L.C.: Well, yes, of course there was a tremendous outcry amongst the people - my people; they wanted blood, Staunton's head on a plate. But my way, even then as the foremost defensive midfielder of my generation, was the policy of 'tough but fair'. I granted Stan a pardon, and allowed him to leave the country. He went to Denmark, from whence we presumed he would never return; but of course, sadly, that was not the last we would hear of the man.

TSA: Ok, to the match against the Czechs. Your finest game?

L.C.: I'm often asked that, you know. But I often feel that the World Cup Final in 2010 was my greatest game, even though I only scored three in that one. But yes, as I said, I was possessed by great forces that evening, and was, if I may be so immodest, utterly inspired.

TSA: Five goals, for a no-nonsense defensive midfielder - quite extraordinary. The story of that game has become something of a legend.

L.C.: Well I can assure you it was all true! No, I am aware that that evening in Lansdowne Road has become the folk tale that old men tell their grandchildren with a tear in their eye, like previous generations spoke of Pearse and Wolfe Tone. The difference being that, unlike those fellows, I won! (laughs heartily)

TSA: And then events rather picked up a momentum of their own when the government fell that very evening.

L.C.: Yes indeed. We were all obviously elated and, as I was carried shoulder high from the field by my grateful team-mates, the chants of "Carsley, Carsley" suddenly morphed into "Carsley for Taoiseach." Well I laughed this off as the fanciful jauntiness of the mob, until Mick Byrne beckoned me over to the dressing room with the message that there was a phone call for me.

TSA: President McAleese.

L.C.: Indeed. Now at this time I was not the statesmanlike figure I was to become, so I was quite nervous and no little taken aback when the late President introduced herself on the phone. "Mr. Carsley, first let me congratulate you on your courageous performance this evening," she said. "As a fellow Irish person born outwith the boundaries of this state I applaud you." Now, I was speechless and humbly offered my thanks; little did I know what was to follow. "As you may not yet be aware, the government of this state collapsed this evening", this being the time of the unfortunate business with the previous Taoiseach which had been developing over the previous weeks. "Mr. Carsley, in this time when Irish public life is beset by corruption on one side and opportunism on the other, in this age bereft of heroes, it behoves me as President of theis great nation, to ask you to form a government."

TSA: Incredible. She really talked like that.

L.C.: Oh yes, she was a real lady. So I was barely togged in and I was off to this very house in which we now sit and by morning a very tired Lee Carsley - remember I had just produced one of the great football performances of all time prior to saving the country from political and social collapse - sat down at his first cabinet meeting.

TSA: Amazing. Of course you dealt swiftly with your predecessor once again.

L.C.: Yes, I exiled Mr. Ahern. He ended up in Denmark also, from whence we presumed he would never return; but of course, sadly, that was not the last we would hear of the man.

TSA: How did you manage to balance leading the country on the football pitch, managing the team, running the country and turning out for Everton every Saturday afternoon?

L.C.: Hahaha! I was a much younger man then I suppose. I had so much energy. That's what made my no-nonsense defensive midfielder performances so popular, I suppose. Full of energy. The same vim and vigour I devoted to hounding the likes of Xabi Alonso and Paul Scholes, I brought to complex matters of social policy and economic theory. My cabinet colleagues - they nicknamed me 'Carsy' just like my footballing teammates, which meant a lot - were especially pleased when I took by dogged approach to football to the realm of crime prevention: like I pursued and tackled the creative players of the football world, so too did I the malevolent forces of the underworld.

TSA: You are a truly inspiring man, President Carsley. Do agree with popularly held theory that that Saturday in Nicosia was the pivotal moment in the history of this state?

L.C.: Well, it is very difficult to say and, really, not for me to talk about that sort of thing. But yes, I suppose it was rather, wasn't it?

TSA: President, thank you very much for your time.

L.C.: Not at all, my boy.


Post a Comment

<< Home