curse: A solemn utterance to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something.
Football is a superstitious game. Be it wearing the same shirt to a game after you won last week, never changing a winning team or entering the field of play backwards a-la Daniel Sturridge.
We try to make sense of football because it is so hard to make sense of. The game is organised chaos at its absolute best, and this is why we love it. The irrational theories, superstitions and day to day conjecture that surround the game are what make it so great. As rational human beings we like to try and explain away these phenomena as much as we buy into them but some just seem to defy explanation and really get inside the head of football fans.
One such ‘curse’ that has really caught the eye as of late is that of the Chelsea number 9. Stretching back to the days of Tony Cascarino in 1993 a whole host of number 9s have tried and failed to establish themselves as Stamford Bridge favourites (for a full run down of the trials and tribulations of the modern day Chelsea number 9 visit the Football Supernova). So, is the Chelsea number 9 shirt really cursed or do these players just sink under the burden of history (and money) that the shirt represents?
Fernando Torres may be suffering from a significant bout of existential and professional doubt. His case of ‘the yips’ has left him unable to hit the target let alone execute with the sort of composure he was capable of at Atletico and Liverpool. His touch has deserted him and the goals that made him famous have gone too. So is the lack of confidence that is so often cited the problem with Torres, or is there something more sinister a foot? Could it be possible that Fernando Torres and the Chelsea number 9 really are cursed?
Theory number 1 –
Perhaps the jilted Liverpool fans, so consumed by the sense of abandonment that followed the departure of their favourite Spaniard, banded together and invoked the cosmos to strike down Torres in all of his future endeavours. I imagine this invocation to look like a heartfelt rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone but performed in a darkened room, all holding hands in a circle but altering the lyrics to You’ll Never Score Again.
Theory number 2 –
A jealous kit man at Chelsea HQ, so incensed by the realisation that these preening prima donna’s, ginger haired midfielders and Khalid Boulharouz could make in a week what he does in a year that he cursed the shirt, stitching his bitterness into the very lining, so that no no.9 would ever succeed at the club again.
N.B This disgruntled kit man must have arrived soon after the departure of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but we are getting to him.
Theory number 3 –
The last great number 9 at Chelsea Football Club scored so many goals, was so vastly popular and adored that there was no room left for another 9 to take his place (false or not) and so the once magical shirt lost its power forever more. However this theory does not lie true with the counter example at St James’s Park of the Newcastle number 9 shirt, a magical item of clothing which imbues its every wearer with the ability to score goals, be it the great Alan Shearer to Andy Carroll and Papiss Demba Cissé.
Discounted theories include that Fernando’s flowing blonde locks, Samson like, were the source of his goal scoring power and that when he died it brown this power was lost. However the return of the blonde hair has done nothing for his fortunes. Also the theory that he is in fact “half a boy and half a girl” is yet to be proved but was also an accusation that was in place during his glory days at Liverpool.
Whatever the case, curse or confidence crisis, the sight of this video is still able to have even the most ardent sceptic questioning whether there is in fact a curse on the Chelsea number 9, Chelsea fans, look away now:
By Scott Carey