Tall Poppy Syndrome

As someone who has followed Chelsea Football Club for a considerable period of time, I find myself in a strange and unfamiliar land.

There was a time when one had to buy half a dozen papers on Sunday and then spend lunchtime down the local hunched over a hair-of-the-dog Stella trying to find something interesting about our beloved and at times, somewhat beleaguered club.

My, how times have changed. Ne’er a day goes by without something being written about Chelsea in the papers. What’s changed though is that nowadays people actually appear to hate us. We’ve never been liked of course, something that many of us wear as a badge of honour. It may be hard to swallow, but it means we’ve arrived.

Our cousins down under will be familiar with this phenomenon; it’s called Tall Poppy Syndrome. The term itself is around two thousand years old, being accredited to a Roman tyrant named Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, who on receiving a request from his all conquering son on what to do next, took a stick and swept it across his garden, cutting off the heads of the tallest poppies growing there.

The messenger took this to a be a symbolic gesture and reported back to Tarquinius’ son, Sextus, who upon receiving the message took it to mean that he should put to death the most eminent of the people of the ancient city of Gabii. If you made it this far, here endeth the history lesson.

In summary, someone who suffers Tall Poppy Syndrome is generally over-critical or downright envious of another’s social or economic standing. Why this syndrome should be particularly attributed to our Australian descendants I have no idea, because don’t we in this country also love to back the underdog? Don’t the press in this country have a nasty tendency to lionize celebrity and success only, at the first available opportunity, to attempt to shoot the individual down in flames?

Yes they do, we see it every day. We’re living it right now as fans of the champions, both incumbent and elect, of the Premier League. In spite of this obvious envy demonstrated by the press, our so-called rival club’s fans and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, I’m not about to excuse their behaviour, there’s simply no point in trying to deal with something that is so deeply ingrained in their behaviour that it has become endemic. In short, there’s simply too much of this shit to wade through, isn’t there?

The biggest problem with it is that none of these people are prepared to be held accountable for their comments or actions. For example: when was the last time you heard of a newspaper retracting obvious untruths? When was the last time you heard a newspaper apologise for taking a Premier League manager’s comments out of context and printing them in such a manner as to make them appear more arrogant than they already are? Quite, it simply won’t happen, because Chelsea Football Club once again is in the minority, but this time for very different reasons.

The next time you feel the need to get into an argument with a foetus-worshipping scouser, or something written in the papers makes your blood boil so much that you fire off a soon-to-be-regretted email from ‘Apoplectic with Rage of Battersea’, take a few seconds out. Take a deep breath, and then smile.

Think carefully about how well we’re doing at the moment, think about how well we’ve done over the last few years. If you weren’t smiling before you should be now, because it doesn’t get much better than this. I’m living the dream here; after almost forty years I’m looking down on the rest of the top flight teams in England and abroad, and it makes me smile.

Remember, this can’t last forever, so enjoy it. I really mean enjoy it; revel in it, embrace it and save all that joy for the next time some half-wit rival fan has a pop. All you then have to do is smile, remind them that all the while we’re making history and breaking records, their so-called history accounts for naught.

Remember how long you’ve waited for this day, then smile again and walk on by.