What have those Ocean Boys of Brass been doing today? I think you already know what they have been doing. It is what they always do. The Ocean Boys of Brass have been coursing through the thick, green oceans of the world, dreaming of zinc mermaids in steamy lagoons. This is not new for them. They have been grappling with tentacled sea demons, teaching shanties to catfish, answering the call of flailing maidens and drinking brandy with admirals, never rusting. This is what they did yesterday and they repeated it today, those Ocean Boys of Brass, those maritime poet-gods, warriors of the riptide, metallic artists of the deep. These are and always have been their daily activities, but none of this interests you in the slightest. You want to know if they have also signed a new goalkeeper.
Jude Olakwe joins the Ocean Boys from rival Nigerian Premier League side Ranchers Bees, but the 26-year-old is currently carrying a shoulder injury that will delay his debut for the team from Brass, in Bayelsa State. Club coach Goodwill Steven said: “It’s difficult to know when he’ll be available; however, it’s not a serious problem. We’re just delighted he’s signed for us as we try to recapture the form that won us the title four years ago.” But you are not content with this information, are you? You feel hollow like there must be more, more information that you’re not being told. You sit there aching from the damp hole in yourself and you think you want better researched details about this shoulder, an X-ray perhaps, or at least a more revealing quote, but that’s not it, that’s not it at all. What you truly crave is to know how Olakwe will react when he first gazes out across the shimmering ocean, then the crack of drumfire in his head as he trudges to the water’s edge and lowers a brass toe to the surf, resisting, freezing, fearing the corrosive burn of rust. And how he’ll understand his fear is simply awe at his potential when he sees his fellow Ocean Boys of Brass command the fishes, direct shoals of fish in a ballet of light and colour just below the ripples for the amusement of the sun.
But still you persist and you say tell me who’s fit for Saturday’s league game away against Kano Pillars as if now this will fill the hole, even though there was a game only last weekend and you remember still feeling empty after you read the team news. So you say well at least acknowledge that the Ocean Boys of Brass are hardly racing through the waters at the moment; there must be a fair few maidens drowning each day because Ocean Boys have lost six of their last nine matches and have plummeted to 18th in the table, heaping pressure on coach Steven. But you are wrong my friend, you are wrong, whether or not Akeem Mohammed is back from suspension and Kester Ode recovers from a hamstring injury in time, which insiders suggest he will. They soar, the Ocean Boys of Brass soar as they will always soar: in 4-4-2 formation, in splendid contradiction, soaring down through the fathoms of sea, falling back up to the surface for air. It is you who have lost your bearings, you who flounder, you who evoke the pity of the relegated.