— Memoirs from the sixties
“The end of an era — Peter Cosgrove (1955–1964)” screamed the black and white poster outside the stadium, even as I fought to keep the tears from streaming down my cheeks. It was a long way from Fulham to my uncle’s house in artsy little Shoreditch, and it seemed like the idyllic summer day had been covered with a blanket resembling the colorless garb of the poster I’d just witnessed.
The skies seemed grey, and the lovely little chip shops lining the road suddenly seemed devoid of life and activity. The mental turbulence was unbearable, as I slowly dawdled near the tube station, trying to wrap my head around what was happening.
A fresh newspaper lay face-down on some steps, as if someone had rolled it up and flung it down in disgust. Carefully dusting the edges, I unfurled it to see more official confirmation of what I had been dreading.
‘Peter Cosgrove swaps London for Turin’, blared the headlines as I scowled down at the paper, ‘The Italian Club confirmed late in the evening on April 5, 1964 that they’d reached an agreement fo’- I’d read enough. I scrunched up the newspaper and tossed it away, as if willing it all to be one huge lie.
A small group of fans with Chelsea scarves ambled past me, looking bored and despondent. One of them looked at my red eyes and disheveled hair, and his face suddenly broke into a wide grin. “Cheer up now, lad,” he laughed, “ We’re upset too. But it’s not the end of the world, you know.”
“You didn’t sound this cheerful a moment ago,” interjected his friend angrily. He turned to give me a knowing nod, “I’ve seen you around. You’re at most of the games.”
“I go with my uncle,” I nodded back. “Not sure I’ll be back for a while, mind. Not with Cosgrove leaving. He’s the reason I started watching in the first place”
“That was the case for most of us, wasn’t it?”, he shrugged, “But all good things must come to an end. I bet you’ll still be here supporting the club next season though, as will 20,000 of us.”
I smiled glumly through my tears. I knew he was right. My uncle had started bringing me to the games when I was 5, nearly a decade ago. “Teach them young”, he had beseeched my aunt when she protested. By the team I was old enough to grasp that there were several better teams I could have supported instead, the law of familiarity took over my subconscious and ruled out that possibility.
In these parts, people are born into families that follow teams across the country throughout the year, and my uncle had embraced this tradition when he first arrived here as a young boy a long while ago. I knew he would be devastated when I told him his favorite player was leaving the club. But I also knew that he would come up with a random, yet oddly comforting, philosophy that justified the situation.
I laughed in disbelief when I realized I had just gone through the various stages of sorrow in hardly a couple of hours. I had woken up early and taken the first train to the stadium, brimming with optimism that my hero would have signed a new contract with the club, completely in denial that this was against the general proceedings and statements that had unfolded throughout the week. I had plunged into grief when my hopes didn’t materialize, but it hadn’t taken me long to accept and rationalize it in my head.
I didn’t even feel like walking in melancholy anymore. “Who’d have thought, eh?” I exclaimed out loud, as a train pulled into the station. My new acquaintances stared at me, confused, “Thought what?”
“Never mind,” I grinned, hauling myself onto the train, “Hey, see you next weekend at the game, yeah?”. Waving goodbye, I retreated into the warmth of the carriage, eager to head back and tuck into my aunt’s breakfast singharas and tea.