They think it’s all over – it will be tonight. Then we can all get back to our lives. Even if you’ve no interest in sport in general but you’ve watched or listened to any kind of broadcasting device over the last while, and are partial to a bit of news, you may not have been able to avoid it. Perhaps you weren’t quick enough to change station before you heard yet another ‘football transfer window’ story: “And the main news tonight: Speculation about [insert footballer’s name] increases as he is spotted today in [insert name of city of possible destination club] buying ferns .”
In an sport full of replica cloaks and daggers at the best of times, the transfer window is a particular orgy of speculation. You have to feel sorry for the reporters who stand around outside the football stadia waiting for something to happen like Royal Reporters waiting for a baby to be born. Imagine if tens of Royal Babies were being born all over the UK and you didn’t know for sure which princess was pregnant or indeed if she was pregnant and you get the picture of Transfer Window Night.
No matter how much you try to ignore it, your ear will start pick up some of the stock phrases that abound at this time. There are ‘wantaway strikers’ , ‘frustrated midfielders’, defenders who feel ‘hurt’, goalkeepers who issue a ‘come get me plea’. These are clearly people who wear their heart on their sleeve until someone pays them a lot of money to wear a different sleeve. Unless there’s a ‘last-minute hitch over ‘personal terms’.
It’s not something that happens too much in this country. League of Ireland transfers are mostly free exchanges, an individual rugby player doesn’t move very often in his career. In the GAA, most transfers are done to facilitate people being closer to jobs for example from a country club to somewhere in Dublin. (Transfers between nearby parishes can only happen on a New Moon, may require the presence of a Justice of the Peace or a druid and will definitely require the signature of a man called Donie.)
Of course, that’s not to say we mightn’t see GAA transfer windows in future. Gaelic Games among the diaspora has never been stronger. There’s an International Hurling Championship in Galway in September. And what about the children of our new residents and citizens from around the world who are already playing it here? When they tell their relatives back home about the excitement of a provincial final and the opportunities for throwing shnakey belts in a Junior B League match, it’s only a matter of time before there’s a GAA World Cup. With increased spread of the game, maybe it will be more common to find increased mobility between clubs. There hopefully won’t be much money involved but people might like to travel. Maybe one day we will Brazilian hurlers with only one name “Seanoginho” expressing unhappiness at playing out of position at Sao Paolo Emmet Kickhams-A-Ballaghs-Rossa. They might give an interview saying it would fulfil a boyhood dream to play for Na Piarsaigh. And then complain they were mistranslated.
That’s for another day. My phone is ringing. Who knows? With only a few hours left before the deadline maybe, maybe someone’s getting desperate.
First published in the Examiner, September 2nd 2013