Review / Opportunity / Eden

Destiny is a story about Joe Carmody, a Boxer who becomes a Private Investigator. It opens American writer Ethan Coen‘s collection Gates of Eden and sets the tone of noir with a comic twist

Carmody, an intellectual too smart for pugilism, is pulled into an engagement spying on one Promoter as he indulges in a proxy affair with another Promoter’s wife. It is about smart people playing dumb and dumb people playing smart, and involves Joe taking a lot of beatings.

After his final pummelling, during which he has never landed a blow on an opponent, Joe wonders aloud what it would have been like to be a little bit better. “Always a beating, I don’t understand it.”

“I may be a little slower than the other guy, but not that much. I may be a little less strong, but I don’t get beat by a little, I get the crap pounded outta me. Why is that?”


When thinking about Bradford City in the 2022/2023 three stories in Coen’s Gates of Eden came to mind. The season was the club’s first under manager Mark Hughes and concluded with a sixth placed finish. In Andy Cook City had League Two’s top scorer, and in Harry Lewis they had the best goalkeeper since Jordan Pickford learned to shout between the sticks.

To iterate through results, but more so to recall, there was improvement. The mid-season arrival of Adam Clayton and Sam Stubbs saw Hughes able to be flexible in the shape he set his players with and increased competition for places.

From 62 miles up Hughes is contesting with a mental frailty in League Two players which his career in the Premier League has not prepared him for. It feels unfair to draw a line and suggest that the players on one side of it are bad mentality, and the others good, but Lee Angol’s exit for Matt Derbyshire illustrated this point. They both enjoy being footballers, but probably Derbyshire enjoys it for the reasons Hughes finds useful.


Costa Minapolidan feels like an abandoned idea from Fargo oozing as it does with Minnesota Nice. It tells the story of a group of Gangsters who move to the snowy cold from Chicago’s South Side, competition having become a little fierce, and decide to bring this thing we do with them.

On arriving in the 1960s Joe de Louis, the head of the small crime family, “don’t care about your problems” but over the decades as he attempts to make the environment a product of his will, the environment shapes him back. “Nudsun” is murdered, but the locals assume it was a terrible mistake, and one by one the Gang begin to assimilate into the community.

Joe de Louis opens a barber shop, he dies an old man, found by one of his customers and buried in a pauper’s grave.


Hughes does not seem to be especially interested in leaving Bradford City. Hughes standards taller than most and things develop well alongside him after a long career, he has found a place where football is more malleable, and he can be more the author of his destiny.

Slowly his squad begins to tend towards interesting shapes. He uses players in interesting ways, and pushes those players to their edges. Alex Gilliead, who Hughes has played in a few positions, has been taking on roles within those positions which the manager asks him to do.

One game Gilliead is moving into any pocket of space he can find to be given a pass to feet, the next he is pressing forward and taking the ball on a half turn to get away from a midfielder, while the next he is tucking in to defend a lead. The latter often ineffectively, but given Gilliead was the inefficient winger, we should recall Dr Johnson in these matters.

Without wanting to be critical of him, Gilliead shows the heart of Hughes’ problem and the 2022/23 season. A limited player played to his limits, the regnant assumption is that there was a possibility that City could have been better, perhaps should have been, and that this season represents a missed opportunity.


Opportunity, as a concept, relies on the assumption that there is a better outcome that one could have had in some situation and that outcome was forsaken, and looking at 2022/23 I struggle to see that. Of course, one can look at moments in games and spot mistakes and wish that those mistakes had not happened, but that does not seem to capture the idea of a missed opportunity.

Was it a missed opportunity that Jamie Walker was out for four months? Was Emmanuel Osadebe’s sixth minute leg break on the first day of the season a missed opportunity? What opportunity does losing two significant players afford for a club? What opportunity did Alex Gilliead pass up in playing as well as Alex Gilliead has ever played? Was there an opportunity to get more goals out of a 32-year-old journeyman Andy Cook?

Lest this be seen as a needling of superficial language, I use the phrase as synecdoche for an attitude ill fits the season played. Bradford City were not the default success of 2022/23, there was no opportunity other than that which represented the peak of City’s performance.

City, Hughes, We, did as well as we were ever going to do, and it is fine to regret not being lucky, but I may be a little less strong, but I don’t get beat by a little, I get the crap pounded outta me.


In The Boys a Father takes Davey and Bart, his two young sons, camping, trying to navigate the road and the whims of the children he sometimes sees. One will not be separated from a Sesame Street catalogue but shows no interest in the Sesame Street characters, the other repeats his phrases in a way which Father is obviously more irritated than flattered by.

Spanish Rice, a dish that Davey claims to like, leads Father to take his son to a restaurant to try an interesting meal, but Davey casts the dish aside. Spanish Rice, it turns out, is just a name for White Rice with Ketchup mixed into it. Bart wants an omelet. “Can’t they make Bart an omelet, huh Dad?” repeats Davey.

The last line is contraception: “What did they want with him? Who were they?”