Monday, 30 August 2010

All week Recife is astir with the news that Carlinhos Bala will be coming back to Santa. Bala was the original Brasão. Gapped of tooth and car-washed of hair, he made the average Santa fan look as dapper as Pierce Brosnan on his wedding night - no easy claim, as anyone who has ever been to Arruda will know. It was Bala who blazed his way through defences in Santa´s Pernambucano Championship win in 2005 (their last) which was also the same year O Mais Querido were promoted to Serie A (also their last).

He was then sold to Cruzeiro where he achieved slightly less than nothing, before coming back to Recife with Sport. He won two Pernambucanos at the Ilha Do Retiro, as well as the Copa Do Brasil in 2008, the first national trophy to come to the nordeste in 20 years. When his contract ran out in 2009 he jumped ship to Nautico, where he again became a fan favourite (playing for all of Recife´s three teams in four years did not seem to count against him).

But Little Charlie´s big gob got the best of him again this year when he lambasted Nautico, his manager and the directors for late salary payments. He was sacked for indiscipline and packed off to Atlético Goianiense - Serie A, but really about as much fun as playing naked tag team chess with John Terry, Faustão and Eamon Holmes.

So of course if Santa called he´d be back to Recife like a shot, wouldn´t he? So every tricolor in the city seemed to think. Never mind that Santa are playing in Serie D, and that the season could be over after as little as two more games. Never mind that Santa like paying wages on time like Iranians like weapons inspections. Never mind that Atlético Goianiense are struggling for survival in Serie A and would probably like to hold onto Bala, or would at least expect Santa to pay some kind of transfer fee for him (unlikely given that the club accountant recently stated that surplus income of any kind coming into Arruda will be immediately directed to pay off the r$30 million debt with the general worker´s union).

Meetings and press conferences were excitedly called - club directors declared themselves confident that the move would go ahead. The justification for all this optimism was that some people at Santa had a few mates at Atlético, and, well, why not?

Though it didn´t of course work out, and Carlinhos isn´t coming, and neither are Marcelo Ramos, Juninho or Rosembrik, or any of the other flyweight greats* of Santa´s recent past. In the end Atlético politely pointed out that he was their player and they didn´t want him to go and he didn´t seem to want to leave, and even if he did they would quite like Santa to pay r$250,000 for him, and everyone knows Santa haven´t got that kind of money, or indeed any money at all.

So instead here come Alexandro and Alysson and Paulinho Pedalada (Little Paulie The Dribbler, if you will) none of whom anyone has ever really heard of, but it´s Serie D, so people can´t expect much better.

Finally, who else but Brasão to put things in happily Nietzschian perspective. Who is Carlinhos Bala? Who is Brasão? Only the Lord is bigger than Santa Cruz. Actually it´s a tough call, the Lord or Santa, at least in Recife - work started this week on the Eu Quero 60,000 campaign, which refers to the stated goal of packing Arruda with 60,000 demented souls this coming Sunday for the Serie D second round game against Guarany from Ceará. In these godless times would even JC pull in that many on a rainy Sunday in Recife, especially if he was struggling in the lower depths of the Brazilian Championship?

* Hard on Marcelo - he is one of the leading all-time top scorers still playing, and won the Libertdores with Cruzeiro in 1997. But he´s 37.

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