Creative Soccer Culture

The Fantasy Premier League Addict | Game Week Five

Heading into game week five with his sixth column of the season, the 'Fantasy Premier League Addict' and inspired illustrator, Ben Tallon returns with his latest musings as he looks to tinker into a new weekend.

I saw something in the news, somewhere, about Gordon Brown, former vice captain of the UK, saying we were sleepwalking into a financial crisis. We may very well be on the brink of a new great depression, but who is ‘we?’ The UK? The world? In football, we pin our hearts to the badges of clubs, our nations every so often and talk to those who share our allegiance using ‘we’ to underline collective belonging, but here on the Fantasy Premier League underbelly, we is an altogether more ambiguous term, shape-shifting from week to week, from mini-league to mini-league.

On my stag weekend, we is a stinking shoal of British idiots, wandering the streets of Amsterdam’s red light district, giggling between ourselves because we’re doing our best to highlight why not too many look fondly upon our behaviour overseas. Despite the big occasion and short get away, there are many reminders of just how difficult it is to escape the pains of the game.

Drinking beer and being punished by friends is a strange way to celebrate the ultimate proclamation of love for another, isn’t it? At 2am Friday, tie-dye Hulk Hogan tights abandoned in the hostel corridor, I stumble around the confines of my dorm, completely naked as the rest cry with laughter at my discombobulated state in a show of everything marriage is not supposed to be.


Saturday is intended to be a visit to the Van Gogh museum and a pathetic 1 of 16 make it. The rest disperse, vacant faces taking in the city in different ways, a bunch of five slumped on tall stools in some novelty pub to watch the early kick off between Spurs and Liverpool, physically depleted and mouths open. By evening, darkness descends on us as neon signs along canals lure crowds of tourists from all over the world into live sex shows, peep shows and fouler things. Even so, despite this adult playground at our mercy, in the blur it all becomes, the electrician from our league is prodded physically and verbally as he falls silent. We demand he acknowledges that he has slipped to the bottom of the league.

I’m full of self-loathing because in light of this big celebratory weekend, I felt I should ‘be naughty’ and switch my captaincy from Eden Hazard to Marcus Alonso, resulting in an infuriating 6-point tally against the Belgian’s 40-point hat-trick storm against a weak Cardiff outfit. With all of the cultural delights of Amsterdam, this kind of anger shouldn’t get within three waterways of me, but it nags like a paranoid partner. I laugh too loud when a gentleman storms away from a peep show booth, chasing his visibly better half, reminding her that ‘this is why she came,’ asking isn’t this what she wanted in the first place? His questions through gritted teeth resonate with me in a warped way. I am no different to her, tantalised by the idea, but left confused when staring down the real thing, unsure what is sexy and what is sleazy. When it comes to picking my FPL captain, it seems I’m more rain mac and binoculars than stilettos and liberal physical expression. I try to distract myself with amusing imaginings of what the rest of their conversation pans out like as he gives chase back to the hotel. At least he has the opportunity to rescue the situation. I have no case with whch to email the powers that be this time.

Through plumes of marijuana smoke rolling out of every other establishment, along waterways and eventually in the back of a taxi and on top of a bunk bed, FPL consequences are with us, causing arguments and bullying among friends.

As the plane home takes off on Sunday, the sparky is prodding at his phone, telling me he really needs Wolves’ Neves to ‘do something’ and when we arrive back in the UK, significantly quieter and sweatier than when we left, my hangover is eased a little with news of two Wolves clean sheets whilst he just stares blankly at the huge queue, knowing he sacrificed his wildcard for this further humiliation.

If the people supposed to be running the country eventually issue us all with little blue passports and instructions on what we’ll need to pay to go and perform such antics anywhere off our island, it’ll be a sad day for many, but it’s safe to say the globalisation of Fantasy Premier league continues to escalate unchecked and unchallenged. At the passport gates, I stare into the screen as they force me to look myself in the eye one more time then walk away.

You can see more work from Ben Tallon here

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