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The Beautiful Loser

George Philipas

In much the same way as the central characters in Leonard Cohen’s 1966 classic ‘The Beautiful Loser’ are all united by their sexual obsessions, so it is in football that fans are united by an almost Biblical hysteria towards the Beautiful Game.
In following the trials and tribulations of their respective teams, all but one that is ultimately doomed to failure, there is an almost transcendent beauty in their growing pain and frustrations, and ultimate loss.
Painted on each face is a picture of fear, bewilderment and complete dejection as their team’s sad and inevitable demise unfolds before their very eyes. It is an almost bizarre sight to observe emotions more akin to conflict zones than to everyday life imprinted deep onto the faces of each fan.
But then again as Bill Shankly, the great Liverpool manager of the 60’s and 70’s once said:
‘“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.”
If the angst and passions expressed on many a fan’s face during the South African World Cup is anything to go by, Bill Shankly was spot on.

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