“Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head…”
So begins the John Lennon song. Yesterday I saw a perfect example of this. OK, it was only in football, and was a long way from being a life or death situation, but it made me laugh. A lot! I must first declare an interest here, as I have supported Tottenham Hotspur since I was 5 and although I now regard them as my third team, behind Leyton Orient (local team) and Dover Athletic (home town) I still follow them.
A little background for you: West Ham won the bidding rights to take over the Olympic Stadium as their home ground, and will move in to play their matches there from next season. The process was acrimonious, as Spurs were also interested and the tactics from both sides were dubious, and the likely effect on the future of the other team in that part of London – my beloved Leyton Orient – could be catastrophic. The deal has been shrouded in secrecy, with many stories of the extremely advantageous terms that have been offered to West Ham, at the British taxpayer’s expense, and there is an ongoing battle under the Freedom of Information Act to have the full contract made public. To complete the powder keg, Spurs’ chairman is renowned as a very hard negotiator, and has fallen out with many other clubs in his 15 years in charge, while West Ham are co-owned by two classy gents who made their fortunes in the porn trade, and have the delightful (i.e. arrogant, unpleasant) Lady Brady as their Chief Executive. Relations between the two clubs are on the Arctic side of frosty.
So, imagine my glee when I read this piece in yesterday’s paper, ahead of the match between Spurs and Wet Spam (sorry, West Ham). Footballers are not famous for their intelligence, and there have been many previous examples of open mouths and empty brains combining to provide the perfect incentive for their opposition. Winston Reid is an international footballer, albeit that it is only for New Zealand (sorry, Kiwi readers!) and really should have the experience to know better than to say this in an article which is going to be published on the morning of a match. From my admittedly biased perspective – both on behalf of Spurs and the Orient – this is a classic case of ambition stepping over into arrogance. There’s nothing wrong with ambition, of course, but it needs to be tempered with realism and respect. Reid overstepped the mark on both counts.
So, what happened? Perhaps predictably, and whether or not they had seen Reid’s interview and were motivated by it, Spurs played West Ham off the park. The final score was 4-1 but in reality it could have been a lot more. The wannabe upstarts were put firmly back in their toybox. I know this was only one game and it could all be very different next time. And I know that gloating is an unattractive tendency, but please indulge me. I re-read Reid’s interview after the game and haven’t laughed so much in ages! It seems that I’m not alone in this, judging by this story in today’s paper!
I’m not just telling you all of this to gloat, although I’m honest enough to know that there is much of that in me today. I think there is a life lesson for us in this story. As I said, there is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but that ambition can be damaging if to achieve it others have to suffer. I’m using a game as a metaphor to make this point, and am fully aware how simplistic that is, but take a look at yourself. What do you want to achieve? Would it require trampling on the dreams and hopes of others? Yes? Maybe you should re-evaluate yourself. None of us has the right to better ourselves by hurting others.