Fossa flyer David Clifford was again mobbed by fans after a club championship game last weekend
The nineteenth century composer Franz Liszt might have more in common with David Clifford than you might think at first glance. In his heyday the Hungarian maestro was too mobbed by fans, as the Fossa man was yet again on the weekend.
People at the time even coined a term for it: Lisztomania. So taken were people by Liszt’s music, presence and bearing that they were said have been overcome by a form of fever during his performances around the various the concert halls of Europe.
Back then it was a fairly shocking development, as people had very little reference for this sort of adulation and resulting behaviour. To us in the twenty-first century it seems a heightened, if fairly regular, form of fandom.
After Lisztomania in the nineteenth century, there was Beatlemania in the twentieth. Those images of the fab-four being mobbed at Idlewild Airport in 1964 as they broke America simply by setting foot on it, came straight to mind when we saw video footage of Clifford being surrounded by fans at the end of the club’s Premier Junior clash with Castlegregory in West Kerry last weekend.
Castle’s field of dreams is no Shea Stadium, but the impulse is the same: instead of Beatlemania, we have Cliffordmania. It’s hard not to be overcome, much as the music fans of yore were for Liszt, by a form of fever watching the full-forward in action. The things he does, the way he does them, it’s all sort of mesmerising.
For the man in the middle of it all, though, it’s got to be a really surreal experience. You’d hope, obviously, it’s something he’s learned to enjoy. All the same, though, it’s really intense the level of focus on this one individual.
Only twenty-three years of age the man is already an icon of Gaelic games. Unquestionably he’s the most famous player in the association at the moment, and probably the most famous there’s been in quite some time.
Perhaps, Colm Cooper experienced something like it in the early part of this century during his breakthrough seasons. Even then the focus on Clifford seems that much more all-encompassing.
Possibly that’s simply the nature of the times, of the social media age. If Gooch was mobbed after a game and nobody were there to film it, did it have the same impact? Probably not and it sort of builds upon itself too. The more popular Clifford is, the more popular he becomes.
We doubt the Fossa flyer is going to give an interview to the London Evening Standard and declare, as John Lennon did, that he’s more popular than Jesus, but in the world of Gaelic games, Clifford’s stature is right up there with Lennon and the Liverpudlian quartet.
Anecdotally we’ve heard of people coming from all over the province (and even a few further afield) to watch the three-time award winner in action for his club already this season.
Music to the Kerry County Board’s ears, no doubt, and proof that the club game can be box-office. Then again not every club has a David Clifford. If they did we wouldn’t be having this level of Cliffordmania to begin with after all.
Ten Hag not the problem at United
MUTV wouldn’t be one of our go-to choices of entertainment if we’re being wholly honest.
Not simply because we’re not a Manchester United fan ourselves (as we’re sure you’re shocked to learn!), more so because even if we were, these sort of in-house operations strike us as all a little too controlled, too cosy, too corporate, too sanitised.
A case in point would seem to be the news this week that one of the station’s main shows, The Debate, wasn’t going to be broadcast. The show ordinarily is a sort of round table discussion of the previous weekend’s game, featuring pundits and ex-pros.
MUTV told The Daily Telegraph the reason for the cancelation was due to ‘a shortage of staff’. Now call us cynical if you must, but somehow we imagine the four-nil defeat on the road to Brentford might have had something to do with it.
If it felt like a new-low for the famed club, that’s because it was. To go four goals down in the first half to a relatively minor club, each goal nearly more calamitous than the last, is one thing, to make no inroads on that four-goal deficit in the second half is somehow even more damning of where the club are at right now.
The parallel with Liverpool’s decline from the 1990s onwards is all too clear for the Red Devils. True enough it’s not today or yesterday that Alex Ferguson retired as manager at Old Trafford, still it’s less than a decade ago at the same time.
Nevertheless, in that time United seem to have plumbed the depths even more dramatically and more quickly than their great rivals did during their wilderness years.
United’s form over the past couple of weeks is easily on a par with anything Liverpool served up in the dog-days of the Hicks and Gillett regime under Roy Hodgson and probably worse.
On a corporate level United clearly haven’t gone anywhere nearly as dysfunctional as Liverpool did under their first American ownership structure. Everywhere else, though, it actually feels worse.
United’s recruitment has been catastrophically inadequate. Despite well over a billion pounds being spent, they somehow can’t manage to compete with best, let alone Brentford.
The culture around the club seems toxic. Its identity has been shredded. The fan-base is (justifiably) restless at how the Glazer regime has stewarded their club.
Into all this disquiet and resentment, into a squad of underperforming players, has come Erik ten Hag, the latest sacrificial lamb to the slaughter. Perhaps in time he’ll turn it around, right now though he looks on a fool’s errant.
The problems are bigger than him. They go deeper than any manager could credibly be expected to sort out on their own. When Ferguson took the job in the 1980s, a club was more akin to a yacht. It could be turned around with a little (or a lot) of ingenuity and skill.
A club like Manchester United now is more like a cruise liner. Sorting it out is not a one-man job. Maybe ten Hag isn’t the right man for the job he’s been given (he’s made some mistakes already to be sure), but at the same time to make him the focus of criticism of United at the minute is wholly unfair on the man.
Mayo managerial circus keeping us going
Another day, another dollar, another spin of the Mayo managerial merry-go-round.
The news on Tuesday was that Oisín McConville, the former Armagh footballer and Crossmaglen manager, has signed up as part of Ray Dempsey’s putative management team.
It’s approaching two months since James Horan stepped down at the end of his second tenure as Mayo boss and the search for his replacement goes on and on… and on.
To be fair to the Mayo County Board it’s not like there’s any great rush. At the same time, though, it’s not half dragging on isn’t it? Still it’s giving the national media something to write and talk about now that the inter-county season has drawn to a close.
Beyond that it feels like the whole process of appointing a manager, sorry a management team, has become a ridiculously convoluted affair.
Particularly with the way the Mayo saga has played itself out where it feels like it’s less about the name at the top of the ticket and more about who he can get to come on board with him.
So it’s McConville, Keith Higgins and former Kerry goalkeeper Declan O’Keeffe for Dempsey; it’s Aidan O’Rourke (Armagh men seem to be du jour at the minute) and Éamonn O’Hara for Mike Solan; Paddy Christie and Richie Feeney for Declan Shaw; and it’s Stephen Rochford and Donie Buckley for Kevin McStay.
A galaxy of stars as our late lamented colleague Weeshie Fogarty was wont to say. Maybe it’s the way to go. What better way for somebody to prove their up to the job than to have firm plans in place ahead of their appointment?
At the same time, it’s a lot of potentially wasted energy. After all there can be only one. Three out of the four potential management teams proposed for Mayo are never going to see the light of day. So what’s it all for?
Look at how Kilkenny did their business. They went out and got their man, Derek Lyng, and it’s only this week that details of his backroom team are trickling out.
There’s no harm in it all the same, and as silly season filler goes it’s manna from heaven. Leave it to Mayo, though, to somehow manage to stay in the limelight months after exiting the championship tamely.