There was a moment, as Usain Bolt peeled away from Paddy McGuinness only to shoot well wide, that should perhaps have seen the end of one of professional sport’s most curious charades.
Minutes later, there was another; the Jamaican sprinter – or striker, apparently – latching onto an inch-perfect cross from Juan Sebastian Veron, only to be foiled by a last-ditch challenge from Lee Mack.
In simple terms, to struggle through Soccer Aid, outplayed and outworked by panel-show regulars, is no award-winning audition. John Bishop, the scouse Cannavaro? I think not. Blake Harrison – he of Inbetweener fame – another unlikely picket in a fence that would, to Bolt at least, prove unbreachable.
Not so much a bull in a china shop as a young Bambi on an icy travelator, Bolt’s appearance came twinned with an insatiable intrigue – an opportunity to put schoolyard theories to the test. What havoc could be wreaked on a football pitch by the world’s fastest human? As it happened, the greatest challenge came from each of Bolt’s gangling limbs – seeking to trip the other with every confused lunge.
And that was part of the fascination. For so long, Bolt – an untouchable icon and unparalleled athlete – has spoken of his desire to forge a career in professional football. Forge, perhaps, being the optimal term. Because of the dominance of Brand Bolt – both as champion and personality, there was – at one stage – even a school of thought that it might be plausible, that his physical traits would render him a worthwhile asset.
Then we watched him play, and he’s rubbish. That should have been that – for the sake of the sport’s integrity, it should have gone no further.
Now, at a time when logic is reasonably defied on a regularly detrimental basis, Bolt has rocked up at the Central Coast Mariners, playing under the stewardship of Manchester-born Mike Mulvey.
When Mulvey left Bangkok giants BEC Tero Sasana to take the reins at a club once adorned with names as dubious as Mark Bosnich and Liverpool’s Luis Garcia, little did he know the was boarding a circus train. Mulvey, to his credit, appears to have little time for the freakshow’s ringmaster.
Would Bolt get in the side ahead of Ross McCormack, he asked? A selection of words so random that it could well have come from a Russian tweetbot. It is lovely, though, to know that McCormack is still going; he appears to have summered well.
Of course, the little-and-large partnership did plunder a pair of goals for Bolt in a friendly against a side presumably handpicked for both their generosity and amateur incompetence.
And still, there is talk of contract offers, bids, third-party payments. Then, when all reason appeared to have distanced itself from reality, Andy Keogh spoke up – he of Scunthorpe United, Bury, Millwall and now Perth Glory – a journeyman’s journeyman. “The touch of a trampoline,” he uttered of Usain.
Make it stop. It’s ludicrous. May this be where it all ends. With Andy Keogh. These are weird times.