Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce 3

Whenever I watch that episode of the Simpsons in which Principal Skinner describes his beef burgers as ‘steamed hams’, I immediately think of Steve Bruce.

His face is a sprawling estate of rubicund, sweat-glazed gammon. His eyes like raisins in raw cookie dough. Nose like a chewed sausage. Thin lips girt by flesh – copious and chaotic – like an isthmus of land hemmed in by a raging sea or the rim of a cupcake tin engulfed by erupting cake batter.

You wouldn’t know it to look at him but, back in his pomp, Brucie was a player with considerable aerial prowess.

Yet with that memory-foam mattress of a face, it was always a wonder to me that he could head the ball at all. I imagined that at the moment of contact, his face would instantly sap every joule of the ball’s kinetic energy like some sort of gurning airbag.

I felt his kisser should be drawn without edges since, like a liquid, it probably alters to fill the shape of whatever container it’s poured into. Indeed, these days, it appears to be held together by little more than surface tension and an industrially starched tracksuit collar.

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