Not sure what to expect from Stan Calvert? Courier Editor Tom Nicholson presents the first part of an idiot’s guide to the world’s greatest varsity championship
A is for Anti-bantz
You will no doubt be familiar with banter, that debased term which once meant good-natured badinage between friends but is now used to explain away any kind of attempts at ritual humiliation which the recipient fails to appreciate. Anti-bantz, however, is like a kind of like dark matter: it exists as a balance to the aggressive triumphalism of straight-ahead #bantz, and is much more subtle and insidious.
Previously a niche concern practiced by a chosen few, Twitter has fomented and facilitated the rampant expansion of anti-bantz as an art form. Fans and players will attempt to preemptively save face by firstly dropping hints at certain factors which might act in their opponents’ favour (“What a stroke of luck for the Poly – Baz has picked up meningitis” etc) so that should they win, their triumph will be so much greater for being unexpected.
Should they lose, they’ll offer a revisionist version of events in which they, the plucky underdogs, were never likely to win against such an enemy with such vastly superior resources, and indeed had had to play well above themselves on the day to avoid a total shellacking.
While devilishly ingenious, when deployed skilfully it does rather ruin the traditional gloating and goading (which, obviously, is the point). That said, when attempted by an amateur it can come across as a bit needy. If you’re going to get involved, make sure you get some practice in on flatmates, family members, people in the street, etc. You might initially be met with a fairly frosty reception for telling a fellow Eat4Less patron in the queue that, given the baked potato’s proven track-record as the most efficient and filling carbohydrate-based lunch meal available from Eat4Less, it’s really remarkable how high up the top-selling charts the humble pepperoni baguette pizza manages to climb. However, you should know that what you’re doing is for the greater good.
B is for Behind enemy lines
With the finale of Stan Calvert being wrested away from the traditional rugby union match at Gateshead Stadium by the netballers at Sport Central, Newcastle fans will be venturing into alien territory. While the ticket allocations will be equal, Northumbria will have the psychological edge of playing on home soil (or rather home laminated wood flooring). If Newcastle’s fans do anything crass like bringing along a map outlining exactly how much of Hertfordshire their family owns could earn themselves some fairly stinging glares from the Northumbria faithful, and, if they’re still minded to make boorish noises, should probably stick to more inclusive phrases like, “HIGHER EDUCATIOOOOON”.
C is for Chanting
Is there anything quite like shouting things in unison with other people wearing similarly coloured scarves to make a person feel truly alive? Since we’re going to come to the subject of long-standing class-based insults later (“Your dad works for my dad”, “Two E’s and a swimming badge”, etc), we’ll just offer up some slightly more inclusive chants which might, god willing, one day replace the old warhorses:
– “WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG”
– “I FOR ONE HOPE SPORT IS THE WINNER TODAY”
– “COME ON BOTH TEAMS, HAVE A GOOD OLD GAME OF SPORT”
– “THE OPPOSITION HAS SCORED AND I APPLAUD THEIR SKILL AND ENDEAVOUR”
Isn’t that so much more satisfying than hurling abuse at other people who, fundamentally, share many of your passions, dreams and yearnings for a better tomorrow for all? (No.)