By Ron Beaumont
If you take a relatively quick look at A Brief History of Time by Professor Stephen Hawking – and I can recommend the illustrated version unless of course you can lay your hands on the mythical Ladybird “Once upon a Time” edition – you will quickly come to realize that the abstract concept that is Time has many facets and that the inherent complexity of the subject would seem to defy any attempts at simplification or summary analysis. (Breathe now as that was a rather long sentence.)
Nevertheless this is what the esteemed Professor attempted and, whether you judge his success in terms of scientific explanation or international sales, there is no doubt that the book is the work of an inspired mind. But – and it is at this early point that I must declare my abject failure at GCE Physics – I would like to suggest, with a hopefully appropriate degree of respect and humility, that I think Professor Hawking’s theory has some glaring omissions in that it fails to address the anomalies of Time in relation to football and, in particular, to the Bradford City fan. Allow me to explain.
Firstly, Added Time. That a match lasts 90 minutes is a constant in the Laws of the Game as even Albert Einstein would have recognixed but it is only relevant in a theoretical sense. As all football fans – and City fans in particular – know, the reality of Football Time is different. We seem able to accept that time can be added – although many theoretical physicists in the crowd often pose the question “Where did he get that from?” as the anomalies of Added Time are hard to grasp.
If we are chasing the game then added time moves quicker than normal time yet if we are hanging on under pressure, added time can seem eternal and often only comes to an end when we have lost points by conceding that vital goal – hence the origin of the phrase “the Nick of Time”. So, paradoxically, at least for City supporters, added time has a direct correlation to negative outcomes.
Given this anomaly, it is only reasonable to suggest that the 90 minute constant should be revised as indisputable evidence exists for the positive outcomes of deducting time – the scientific parallel to “Cash out now!” much popularised by Professor Ray Winstone – and the positive benefits of shortening games, especially City games, would see us in, or very close to, an automatic promotion spot.
If thousands of City fans can see the logical benefits in this then how come Professor Hawking missed it? Could he have links to Fleetwood?
Secondly, Wasting Time. In the holistic view of Time this element is often seen as a sub-category of Added Time and although it manifests itself in many ways it is omitted from the esteemed Professor’s work, probably due to the moral connotations that Science seeks to avoid. Whilst clearly and morally unacceptable to the spirit of the game, this aspect of Time is often lost to those “in charge” of matches so that when, or even if, it is recognised by them it is often greeted with the shout “About Time Ref!” displaying a wonderful sense of scientific irony from the average fan. Take note Professor!
Thirdly, Time Travel. To his credit, Professor Hawking does seem to concur with the majority of City fans when it comes to this aspect of theoretical Time. As everyone knows, the concept of Time Travel was originally popularised by the celebrated Mr. Wells ( H.G. not Nahki!) and his famous machine.
To understand this aspect of the theory you need to accept that Time has a linear quality allowing for the theoretical movement backwards into time that has already passed. (There is also an idea gaining some credence that forward movement into time yet to be is also possible- but more of that later.) The theory exists but, sadly, evidence to substantiate it is rare therefore all I can offer in this case is anecdotal, personal experience which, although not strictly scientific, will hopefully have resonance with many City fans.
Cast your mind back if you will to the precise moment that City scored their fourth goal at Stamford Bridge this year. The date and precise time are both well documented but, what is not recorded – possibly in the interests of National Security – is, at that very moment in time, thousands of Bradford City fans, both individually and collectively, made the theory of Time travel a reality.
In my own individual experience I was suddenly transported back to my teenage years (and, believe me, that is some time jump) as I leapt about the kitchen clutching a small radio and screaming. At that very moment, far from the event and in the privacy of my own home, I was also one of the Bradford “Boys” making my own contribution to “All the Noise” even though H.M. Government consider me worthy of being “paid” for being old.
(Younger readers who may not grasp the reference may wish to time travel forward to find out if the State Pension still exists when they reach my age.)
I know it is irrational and fundamentally unscientific yet that memorable moment became forever frozen in time and varying degrees of time jump occurred in full view of the alleged “special one” and his blue acolytes for whom Time continued in the normal way. So come on Professor, explain that one!
Now, if you have stayed with this so far, thank you for your time – I wont ask where you got it from – but please stay with me as there is one more omission that needs to be addressed: the concept of Next Time.
Ever since the game against Chesterfield there have been those among us who have written off City’s promotion chances this season. The Doncaster away victory slowed down the rate of their increase but the subsequent result against Preston and the inability to break through at Gillingham finally opened the portal for mass movement into Next Time.
Now this element of the theory is, like the best in Science, both simple and complex at the same time. “Next Time” is a theoretical concept that allows practicalities to be disregarded and allows idealistic illusions to take the place of reality.
The 20-goal-a-season striker, the bigger commanding keeper, the injury-free defence and the dominant mid-field all exist in “Next Time” and only pessimists dare ask “Who? How? or Why?”
Next Time solves all problems and that is why it is such an appealing yet dangerous concept. Those among our fans who have already moved into “Next Time” may parade their optimism but they also do a great disservice to Now! Whatever hopes and plans we need to have for next season we should not forget this one still exists. Faults should not outweigh achievements.
“Next Time” is the crux of the Theory of Everything. Everything will be sorted out. Everything will be better. Everything will be all right. A part of every City fan will always exist in Next Time – that is why we keep on coming – but a part of us also exists in the past, celebrating good times and commemorating bad ones with respect and dignity and yet we still undertake the majority of our lives in the present.
Such a complex set of paradigms is not always easy to manage but it is why we do what we do and I, for one, have no wish to change that
The Theory of Everything allows us to dream. What makes it almost impossible to prove is that it is different for each one of us but, paradoxically, it is that which unites us.
So, thanks to Professor Hawking, thanks to Bradford City, thanks to Width of a Post and, if this ever makes it through time to you, thank you for making the effort to read it.
That’s it…For the Time Being.