This is a story for our times. Perhaps even a cautionary tale. It has its hero and it has its villain, its winner and its inevitable loser. Anybody who witnessed the events of the 23rd January 2013 will undoubtedly never forget the moment when an encounter that lasted no more than three seconds, incontrovertibly changed the lives of two young men forever.
It was then when an unknown ball boy deliberately fell on a ball in an effort to run down the clock during a semi-final in the now defunct League Cup. Consumed with frustration at what he perceived as flagrant gamesmanship, the feted Belgian starlet, Eden Hazard attempted to retrieve the ball from the grip of the prostrate youth but only succeeded in seemingly kicking the child. This is where the legend of Charlie Morgan has its genesis. This may have been forgotten with the passing of time but the reader will be more familiar with what followed. I merely repeat it for the benefit of recorded posterity.
Initially reticent about stepping into the limelight of his newfound fame, Charlie fled from the flashbulbs and microphones that demanded both his words and his image. He remained elusive, avoiding the media glare and only intermittently sending missives to the legion of followers he had acquired within days of his bursting into the public’s consciousness. We now know, that this silence was merely a gestation period for Charlie. He would soon emerge from the privileged chrysalis of his family mansion and begin the rapid ascent that would turn him into a figure more instantly recognisable than His Holiness, The Pope.
Charlie’s admittance into the zeitgeist of popular culture began in earnest when he signed up to be represented by the then all-powerful public relations guru, Max Clifford before the latter’s later fall from grace. In the months that followed, Charlie would routinely appear on a carousel of daytime magazine shows, candidly and touchingly re-living the horrors of the ordeal he had suffered at the feet of the errant Chelsea millionaire.
Both tabloids and broadsheets ran special reports and supplements that featured Charlie posing in various states of undress or pensively staring out of windows in glossy black and white. It was widely reported that print sales whenever Charlie’s image graced front pages bucked the downward trend that befell the industry at that point in the early part of the twenty-first century. He adorned the covers of Heat, Hello! And OK! on an unprecedented fifty-six occasions between the months of February 2013 and May 2015. Furthermore, Charlie was also made the public face of a popular cider drink and reportedly became one of the highest paid celebrities in UK advertising history.
America inevitably beckoned. In the wake of the acclaim and adoration he enjoyed in his home country, he was offered his own reality television show on the popular E! entertainment channel. Busting My Balls introduced Charlie to an international audience and offered exclusive access to, as the show’s tagline declared, “the Charlie Morgan the cameras don’t see”.
As Hollywood was alerted to Charlie’s unique talent, he once again broke viewing figures when he gave a raw and emotional interview to Oprah Winfrey in which he spoke of the post-traumatic stress disorder he had developed after ‘ballboy-gate’ and that despite everything he had suffered, he had nothing but forgiveness in his heart for Hazard. His honesty and televised tears are credited with the breaking down of social taboos that had until then handicapped so many men from speaking of the traumas they too had cruelly suffered at the hands of famous bullies. The Morgan Organisation for the Rehabilitation of On-field Neuroses, based in his native Swansea, still stands as testament to the considerable charitable work he does for victims of provoked aggression.
Charlie’s career reached its apotheosis however, when after a number of critically acclaimed supporting roles on Broadway (most notably as Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire) he was nominated for an academy award for his portrayal of former President Barack Obama in the film Obama: Yes He Could.
Having taken a hiatus from his gruelling schedule of workout DVD shoots and book-signings for his many autobiographies, he enrolled in an eighteen day acting course at the world famous Actors Studio in New York known for its celebrated alumni and dedication to the ‘method’ style of acting. Charlie’s innate talent was widely acknowledged by those who had seen him that night on the Liberty Stadium touchline but he himself later admitted that it needed to be honed. His subsequent Oscar win, saw him beat out challenges from such acting heavyweights as Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo Di Caprio who both magnanimously proclaimed Charlie as “the greatest actor of this or any other generation” upon his victory.
Charlie however, has recently announced his retirement from the silver screen but will make one final appearance in the biopic of his own life, Swan Song, in which he is said to be looking forward to unleashing his world-renowned ‘dying swan’ routine for the final time.
He is rumoured to be returning to the United Kingdom with his former Playboy playmate wife Shannon after the completion of filming, to embark upon a career in politics. He has not stated which party he would be campaigning for but many believe he has the popularity and media nous to form his own. There seems to be no end to his array of talents.
But what of his assailant? The now-forgotten Eden Hazard’s star did not shine long at Chelsea after he served a ban that originally lasted three matches but was then extended to forty-two after the public outcry that followed Charlie Morgan’s acceptance into the hearts of the nation. Unable to break back into the first team, Hazard descended into a spiral of drink and drugs that resulted in both the termination of his contract but also in his somewhat bizarre arrest after a high-speed pursuit round the M25 that also involved the shooting of an air rifle at a swan. Footage of the incident can still be seen on YouTube courtesy of Sky News. Hazard unsuccessfully played out his career as a journeyman for lower division clubs in Moldova, Yemen and Scotland. He now runs a two-star bed and breakfast with his mother in Bruges. After that fateful night, he never crossed paths with Charlie Morgan again.
It should be noted in passing that that cold January night in 2013 also culminated in the achievement of a first ever Wembley cup final appearance for Swansea City Football Club. However much one trawls the history books though, the subsequent result against Bradford City appears to have been either expunged or omitted. It would seem that we were all so gripped by ‘Charlie Fever’ at the time that we forgot to take notice.
As I said, this is a story for our times.
Further reading: Reality Cheque: Wayne Rooney Appears On Big Brother
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