We’ve all been there: a moment of supreme joy followed swiftly by a moment of supreme oh-Jesus-what-the-f*ck-have-I-done cheek-reddening.
Happiness, when mixed with fellowship, is an overpowering emotion. Sometimes it just gets the better of us. Who hasn’t found themselves locked in a 2am embrace with a co-worker screaming ‘your Excel work is absolutely phenomenal mate. No-one does a table like you. F*cking LOVE you pal.’
There’s not much you can do about it. Simply ride the wave of unfettered camaraderie and see where it takes you. Regret can be dealt with at a later date. Or not at all, because hey we’re all human and anyway what’s a bit of raw companionship between friends?
So it was on April 17th, 2010, when scampering, faintly moustachioed fullback Gary Neville planted a passionate kiss on the lips of his – rather taken-aback – Manchester United team-mate, Paul Scholes.
The latter had just nodded in a 93rd-minute winner for his side away to Manchester City, sparking wild celebrations. It was a vital goal, one that kept United in the hunt for the Premier League title. The Red Devils were on the heels of Chelsea, four points behind with three games to go – a loss and it would likely all have been over for Alex Ferguson’s team.
To add to the spice of that day’s derby, their previously no-mark cross-town rivals had recently become uppity, developing notions that they might even challenge United as the pre-eminent side in England, not to mention just Manchester. Scholes’ header seemed to be a back-in-your-box message to the blue half of the city. A reminder that there was still a long way for the nouveau riche petroclub to go if they wanted to consider themselves United’s peers.
Heckles were beginning to get up at Old Trafford. There was a newfound need to reassert their hegemony, and few at the club would have felt that more strongly than Neville, to whom City would have been little more than comic relief for the majority of his career and life to that point. Yet there they were with notions above their station, daring to compete for titles with the aristocrats of the English game.
Scholes, for a brief Spring moment, put all that to bed – City may have been crown princes, but United were still kings. And Neville absolutely LOVED Scholes for proving that.
So much so that he threw caution to the wind and locked up those lips. No biggie. Just a lad showing another lad he appreciated what he’d done for their team. In the laughably pseudo-masculine world of football, it was a wonderful sight to see.
On top of that, it seemed both out of character for Neville and yet somehow completely in line with his image as a man constantly and overtly displaying his emotion. Often, that manifested as anger and fury with officials, opponents and supporters of rival teams. In this case, it came out differently, and we’re all the better for it.
Sadly for both men, however, United’s victory all for nout. Chelsea went on to win the league by one point.