It’s the storm that has rocked journalism to its already-rickety foundations. Further hacking revelations? Worse. Writers the country over have this week been scrambling with increasing desperation for words to describe Spurs winger Gareth Bale, who has sparked the worst superlative drought in British sports writing history.
“There were so many in the beginning. Brilliant. Beguiling. Barnstorming,” whimpered a bedraggled Henry Winter, cradling himself in a deserted Telegraph sports desk where cabinets have been bundled over and set aflame. “But he just kept playing better and better till… they just… ran out. We used them all. Why didn’t we listen?”
A twitching Oliver Holt at this point limps over from the shadows, barely recognisable beneath the sea-captains’ beard that has sprung up over his face in the wake of the crisis, to add: “You’ve more chance of Tony Pulis winning GQ Man of the Year than of finding an original adjective for the lad, it’s that bad. Honestly. It’s like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road out there. But with words, like.”
The Sun - who were fortunate enough to happen across the word ‘un-Bale-ievable’ under a sheet of moss in a wooded area near Stevenage to put on their back page after the Welshman’s match winning performance at West Ham - are understood to be launching a last-ditch campaign aimed at urging Bale to stop being so bloody great all the time, the bastard.
“The fear is if he continues to blast through defences, scoring from the sort of distance you’d normally associate with a Chris Brown restraining order, we might just run out of words altogether,” remarked a source at the tabloid. “We worried at half time against Arsenal the 23-year-old might get another, or even a hat trick. We could have feasibly ended up on Monday morning with the first completely blank newspaper back page in publishing history. Which, mind you, would be about the closest thing to a clean sheet Arsenal are likely to get these days. But that’s another matter.”
In seriousness, and in fairness to the nation’s press, Bale’s form of late is the sort that demands hyperbole. 10 goals in 2013 so far make him the Premier League’s most prolific scorer – quite the feat for a player who, unlike the players he’s surpassed – Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez for instance – isn’t deployed as a striker but as a marauding midfielder, ghosting in from wide positions.
Even without the Welshman at his scintillating best in Sunday’s North London derby, it was his contributions that turned a previously fiercely fought contest at White Hart Lane in Spurs’ favour: a run that split the Arsenal defence and tidy finish that Arsene Wenger’s side never recovered from.
“We’re running out of things to say about Gareth Bale,” began Sky Sports’ coverage of yesterday’s North London derby. On this form, no wonder.
Al Horner is a journalist from London usually found writing for the likes of NME and Drowned In Sound. He also writes about football and supports West Ham. Follow him on Twitter