The secret diary of...The World Cup
I was never offside. Never. I was straight through on goal having received a perfectly good pass from a large German gentleman whose name I forget, when suddenly the referee blew his whistle.
That stopped me in my tracks, but only for a second. I wasn't worried. I explained that I received the pass in good faith, and was surely entitled to take the ball and do with it exactly as I pleased.
Furthermore, I explained, I had dedicated my playing life to public service, and was known throughout the land as good old "Banksy".
People forgave Banksy, I told him. People loved Banksy.
Banksy, I said, was one of the most colourful players the game has ever known, and by that I don't mean I was coloured. Not that there's anything wrong with that, despite what the crime statistics will tell you.
I told him I was a fair player. The record showed that I had served my country with distinction and success for over 30 years as a bustling striker without ever putting a foot wrong.
The rabble on the sidelines shouted that I had rarely put a foot right, and the public would forget me in a week.
I ignored them, and turned to the referee. He flourished the red card.
I was shocked to receive my marching orders, and told him I needed the weekend to think about it. Because this was no way for good old Banksy to make his exit. Busted, disgraced, pathetic.
I approached my manager, Jamie Whyte. He put a sympathetic arm around my shoulder. "Banksy," he said, "give me your shirt, shorts, underpants, socks, and boots, and get the hell off the field." I said, "But I'll be naked." He said, "Then you best leave quick."
Yeah, actually at the end of the day I always had a lot of time for John Banks, and I'm saddened at his fairly shabby departure from the game, to be perfectly honest.
Because he always gave his best and was a vital player in our team. He worked hard and gained the respect of everyone. He's a tall man. He wore a beard.
I won't hear a bad word said against him, although it was plainly time for him to leave. I think in retrospect the main problem is that he was dead.
His corpse had begun to swell up and stink, and that can have a bad affect on morale. You do your best to soldier on but at the end of the day when there's someone bloated and gaseous on the pitch, it's an uncomfortable situation and the best thing to do in the circumstances is roll the body into an open grave on the sidelines, kick some dirt on top of it, and walk away, actually.
Hi, I'm David Seymour. So, here I am, outside the stadium, and the first thing I want to say is that I never met John Banks and in fact have only heard the name for the first time this very second.
Hi, I'm David Seymour. Well, here I am, warming up on the sidelines, and already I've worked up quite a sweat. Walking and talking at the same time really takes it out of you.
Hi, I'm David Seymour. Crikey, here I am, in the shower, and I'd like to invite each and every one of you to come in and share it with me for the next four years.
Mr Banks knew he was offside. He just didn't care. The rules meant nothing to him. He figured the referee would never notice. Part of his problem is that he thought he was bigger than the game.
I don't have a problem with that. We all get a bit carried away. But the real mistake John Banks made is that he thought he was bigger than me.
Steve Braunias is a Metro staff writer.
Sunday Star Times