Once upon a time, there were two footballers, writes David Agnew, one called Lasse and one called Hakeeb.
They were signed by a chap called Michael. They were given some time but somehow never managed to find a place in the team. Michael left, went to the Tangerines and we found ourselves with a chap called Mark. Owing to injuries, Lasse was repurposed as a right back. He started to improve and suddenly, suddenly began to become a revelation. He scored a goal from his own half, he slowly started to become one of our best players. Meanwhile, young Hakeeb was out in the wilderness. He was sent to Gillingham and did not feature. He was out in the cold. This saddened me; it really did. There was something about young Haks that excited me. He had a great touch; he had good vision, but no one seemed to know what to do with him. He was, essentially, cast out into the wilderness.
Mark Kennedy made it quite clear that Hakeeb had no future within City. He was not given a squad number and did not feature in pre-season. How much more can you be told that you are not wanted? Well, short of your stuff being dumped in the middle of the A15, then I am certain that point was clear.
Yet despite all that, Hakeeb continued to train well. He held his head up high and behaved like a committed professional. Hakeeb had known past success. At Scunthorpe and Bristol he did his job, but at Lincoln, well he was a disaster, yes? Well, no. I always thought he was not given a proper chance. How many great footballers have we had, that didn’t get enough of a chance and then when we let them go, they became the true stars we knew they were. Our Haks was in danger of becoming one of them too. Then, something miraculous happened. Our strike force became injured, not just for the short term, but for a lengthy period. Panicked, Kennedy looked around to see whom he had to play. Up stepped our Haks and filled the void. A great goal against Portsmouth. The unveiling of the long throw rocket, that he had never before deployed in a professional game, that was unleashed against West Ham and has now become a welcome nod to the John Beck era. The running and the distribution. The pressing and the finisher we have been really missing for a while. The corners that are now becoming difficult to defend. This is my man, the man I knew was there when he was signed.
Charlton came, and then it happened! Oh that touch, that sublime touch. It stopped the ball dead, like a bullet train coming to a complete halt. Haks then turned on a six-pence and lashed an unstoppable rocket into the roof of the net. The redemption was clear. A man who not that long ago that was heading towards the football equivalent of the Guillotine, fought back and stuck two fingers up at Madame Defarge. Our Haks made her drop an entire row of stitches. She may well have predicted his end with her knitting, but Haks was determined not to become another victim of the Bastille.
To complete the full redemption, the other survivor of the blood thirsty guillotine was tearing up the pitch in another new position. With the blood thirsty former executioner looking on, somewhat perplexed, Lasse continued to cause severe issues to his former emperor’s new team. Time and time again he breached their defences, creating looks of disbelief to the opposition and their chief executioner. Then came the moment. A wonderful moment. A moment which united everyone in red and white, with an Imp in their hearts. The two men, who had previously been condemned, linked up with such skill and grace and one pardoned man, became two. Haks made his first half effort into a brace.
They continued to battle, took the fight to the now clueless former executioner’s men and rubbed salt into a now gaping wound. Their former tormentor had run out of ideas, just standing there – as he always did, expressionless, motionless and stiff. This was the time for reckoning and what a reckoning it was.
People are a funny breed. Footballers even more so.
No two characters are the same. Yet what we have seen in this tale of two City players would be enough to write a book about. Their journey is not yet complete with us, but because of injuries and suspensions we have surely unearthed two wonderful individuals to make that selection process more difficult. That can only be a wonderful thing when we have this tale to tell. Isn’t it just wonderful to see what a bit of love and support can achieve.
It must be a far, far better tale to tell, than some others.