The desire to explore is deeply embedded within human nature. Many of us have experienced the longing to branch out and adventure beyond our usual surroundings, master virgin territories, maybe even try the new takeaway that’s opened up down the road. This instinct was crucial for our survival as a species. However, sometimes this desire for pastures new is so strong that it goes beyond survival, pushing ordinary folk to undertake astonishing feats of reckless endeavour to be able to say that they conquered nature and its most treacherous obstacles.
Here at In Off the Ghost our days of exploration are sadly over. Destined to haunt the same 115×74 yards of football’s Elysium for all eternity, we must satisfy our desire for the thrill of adventure vicariously. This season we have been getting our fix from the intrepid explorations of West Brom up into the rarefied air of third place in the Premier League table, unleashing an outbreak of nosebleeds across the blue and white half of the Black Country. Inspired by the Baggies sensational form, we spoke to a posthumous pundit with a genuine love of exploration and adventure. A cold welcome to legendary polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton!
“Men wanted for hazardous season. Small wages. Long months of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success. This is the advert I put in the local newspaper before my expedition to the South Pole.” said Shackleton, resplendent in his ethereal long-johns “and I suspect West Brom may have recruited many a player under a similar brief over the past decade. My nickname for Albion used to be ‘the seals’ because they were beaten by clubs so often.”
“But things started to get better after they appointed the well-travelled Roy Hodgson. Now with the arrival of Steve Clarke and some superhuman effort from his players, West Brom find themselves exploring the harsh, unforgiving terrain at the top of the Premier League table. We all know superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results, just ask Park Ji-Sung at QPR, but the Baggies are finally wracking up the wins that make their efforts all worthwhile. People are saying it’s too difficult for Albion to be in a Champions League place come May, but that’s exactly what they said to me about exploring the Arctic. My advice to Steve Clarke is to turn a deaf ear. Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.
“Optimism is true moral courage. Even so, to suggest Albion have the players to conquer the summit of the Premier League, the pinnacle upon which the great round globe of football turns, is like tipping Garth Crooks to win a Pulitzer. However they must now have the belief that they can reach the Europa League positions come May. At the very least they are in pole position to be top dogs in the Midlands.
“We all know nature can be more brutal than a late Peter Odemwinge studs up special. However, so far this season the industry of players like Shane Long and Youssuf Mulumbu has shown that it is by endurance we conquer. Despite their good start the Baggies and Steve Clarke must not be under any illusions – it’s early days and they’ve still got a long hard road ahead.”
(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)