From the write-up in the MEN you’d have thought God himself had done an unscheduled in-store at The God Shop – so mass-hysterical was the effect when Liam Gallagher surprised shoppers at his Pretty Green store the other day. “Emotional scenes,” reported the paper. No shit. “One bloke burst out crying because he couldn’t believe it…” “Tonight was the greatest night of my life…” “Probably the most fantastic thing I’ve ever seen…” “Incredibly, all the excitement was happening in the store while unsuspecting revellers flocked to the Christmas Markets outside…”
Ah yes, the Christmas markets. This speaking-in-tongues at the shrine of celebrity, retail, PR and, well, organised yuletide crime …it was ever thus, right? Pretty much. But there’s also that something-weird, these days, about reading old local newspapers online…not just with all the pop-ups and whizbits you have to deal with just to scroll the page. The way we ingest this stuff has changed in the internet age. The facts are drip-fed to ensure page completion, the blipverts get ever busier and bothersome to shut down. Meanwhile the message is so stretched-out and warped beyond all sense you can start to wonder if you’re the target of some COINTELPRO mind control experiment.
Whether or not there’s something wibbly at the fringes of Mancunian reality the Gallagher brothers’ storyline is as strong as ever, at least. Last month Noel disclosed to podcaster Matt Morgan he’d actually sparked the brothers’ feud by offloading his Pretty Green clobber before Liam’s store had even opened for business. “They were on the shop mannequin in Barnardo’s a month before it launched,” he gut-laughed. “If push comes to shove that was the beginning of the end.” No doubt you could write a thesis on psychological fratricide between the two siblings. Imagine reading that news story if that ever came to pass.
Captain, my captain
First thing you notice about Michael Potts are the soulful eyes. Over a coffee in Caffe Nero this week the FC United captain – manager Neil Reynolds’ very own ‘me on the pitch’ – talked about his pro footie career and the tiny percentages involved in missing out on the professional game. “Couldn’t get out of bed for days, couldn’t face my mates…” he said of the day he was finally released by York City at twenty-one. Manchester United academy prospect, Blackburn Rovers squad member, York City first teamer…then out in the cold. “I was 5’ 8” and more skillful than most, but I was just a kid and it was a man’s game. I just needed a manager who’d take some time to give me a chance.” Bosses in insecure posts invariably went for the bigger player.
It’s an experience of the game he sees reflected in the travails of his current club, as the debt-laden Rebels struggle to stay afloat in the Northern Premier League. With a system to play to but no settled striker to build it around cash-conscious Reynolds is bringing in loan players – talented young pros from football league clubs who want to blood them in men’s football. On his lunch break from the Preston recruitment agency where he now works Potts described the reflection he saw in some of the lads struggling to adapt to the rougher game. “We’ve got maybe six to eight people out there performing every game, but it’s a different six to eight each week… we get young players who freeze a bit, they’re afraid to relax and play their own game or they’re scared to kick the ball in the stand in case word gets back to the parent club.”
Injuries don’t help – the midfielder picked up a calf strain himself in a recent cup game and won’t be back for this weekend’s match. Motivating teammates is one of his most admired traits, having learned much about teamwork outside football putting NHS workers into jobs. He hopes to be fit for the Whitby game, Saturday week, as FC seek to claw their way mid-tablewards.
“Something you might dream up if you wanted to make some kind of satirical point about gentrification.” Such was the response of one incredulous tweeter to the publicity surrounding developer Arrowsmith’s purported 26-story apartment block, set to be propped up against the Briton’s Protection pub at the corner of Albion and Great Bridgewater Streets once Satan has greenlit the project. The cloven one recently launched consultation on the development (“carefully designed to retain and enhance the existing public house…”) so you have until December 8 to have your say. Take a look – it’s a real beauty, no? But is it real?