Stavros Garkos: A vile, vile man
Not many will remember the ill-fated World Soccer League. Adam Bushby reminds us of the world's biggest sporting clusterfuck.
When a 12-year-old girl inherits a football club in the World Soccer League after her father mysteriously disappears, it’s a recipe for disaster really isn’t it. It’s also a recipe for repeated kidnap, annexing entire towns for enterprises such as paper mills or just for fun, attempted murder, robbery, assault, more kidnap... in short, it’s a fucking shit storm, it really is. Not that the young Amanda Carey could take much, if any, of the blame. Little did she know when she got the deeds to the Hispanola Hurricanes that she would have to overcome a daily war of attrition against one of the most evil men to have walked the earth. After all, why would she, she was only 12.
Stavros Garkos was a complete and utter bastard. Garkos, lest we forget, owned the Garkos Gorgons, a team of hulking criminals (this isn’t defamation, they were all actually hardened criminals to a man) who, quite apart from making the Dirty Leeds side of the ‘70s look like a team of choir boys, broke most international laws on a regular basis. Garkos’ company Garkos Enterprises was the multi-billion dollar venture that allowed him to indulge his whims on a level that ranks him up there with Nero. With kidnap seemingly his favourite pastime, at some point or other every single member of the Hurricanes was kidnapped by him, or one of his cronies, over the course of three seasons between 1995–97. That no criminal charges were ever pressed is as preposterous as the fact that the World Soccer League ever existed at all. But the stadiums were always full. Presumably filled with multi-millionaires who could get to stadia that were variously on an island, an aircraft carrier, and in a volcano.
The list of breached FIFA regulations were as ludicrous as they were numerous. Which is perhaps just as well as FIFA nor any of the other established football associations across the world actually endorsed the World Soccer League, so remarkably it was seemingly run by a cabal of the owners, leaving the door wide open for financial irregularities, bribery and corruption of the highest order. On the pitch, the Hurricanes’ Brazilian forward Plato Quiñones played barefoot. That he avoided broken metatarsels or any serious injury at all is testament to nothing other than sheer good luck as the lack of common sense displayed by the club’s management was deplorable and symptomatic of the absolute lack of common sense that pervaded every aspect of the World Soccer League from day one. What makes it all the more remarkable is the fact that manager Jock Stone was very much of the no-nonsense variety, the type of man who you’d imagine would be very quick to tell one of his star players to wear some football boots like everyone else.
While every football club has its dirty little secrets that invariably make the press – dogging scandals, the occasional training ground scuffle or the like – the list of preposterous events to affect The Hurricanes over the course of just THREE years is absolutely astonishing. And I don’t say that lightly. It is ASTONISHING.
Brace yourselves; in chronological order, here is a list of the diabolical bad luck to afflict the club: owner Amanda Stone gets attacked by a bull; Yorg, one the Beethoven twins, is kidnapped in Japan and his brother Helmut saves him; the Caribbean Cup is nicked; Plato smuggles an ape into the club’s training ground on the very day the inspectors are in; keeper Dino Allegro's lucky tailsman, a photo of his big brother, is nicked by the Gorgons; the club’s new aircraft carrier ground (yes, AIRCRAFT CARRIER GROUND) is captured by the Garkos Navy (YES STAVROS GARKOS HAS HIS OWN NAVY); Rude is accused of nicking a diamond ring in a Garkos-led framing; Plato and his brother uncover a Garkos plan to illegally export a team of football-playing chimps; Garkos has a transmitter unknowingly put in Napper Thompson’s filling so he can steal secrets from the Hurricanes; Napper inherits his Uncle's massive fortune on the proviso he never plays football ever again; Garkos tries to kill everyone with robots; an elephant who has been shot by poachers attacks the Hurricanes’ jeep; A new ‘robot coach’ is nicked by the Gorgons; the whole squad is captured by a dictator named General Suarez; Cal Casey nearly dies while shooting a film that he doesn’t know is being produced by Garkos; Cal and Napper get sent BACK IN TIME TO 1337 WHEN FOOTBALL WAS ILLEGAL; Napper’s brother joins a hooligan firm… this is just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t mentioned the fact that the Hurricanes played the first game of football IN SPACE. That Garkos attempted to use a satellite from his television network to destroy a space station where five Hurricanes players were located will, I’m sure by now, come as little surprise. He was a vile, vile man.
If you were to take any one of those stories in isolation, you’d have an astounding front-page story, if not a full-blown international incident. But time and time again, the eyes of the world’s media seemed to be averted, probably covered by the shady hand of Stavros Garkos, as his other planned his next kidnap or robot chimp plot. Thankfully, all this diabolical nonsense stopped as soon as it had began. The World Soccer League had been dogged by controversy ever since its inception. In fact, “controversy” in no way, shape or form does the situation justice. It was a chaos, the like of which I honestly do not think has ever been seen outside of the world wars, certainly not in sport. As previously mentioned, the Hurricanes stadium was on an island. There was nothing else on the island. Therefore, one can only assume the fans would have to travel to a nearby peninsula and then get a boat across to the ground. All in all, an incredibly expensive day out for the fans and probably one of the reasons why the club became less and less financially viable all round. Very few could get to the game held in space for obvious reasons. It was ill-thought out but sadly, indicative.
And I suppose the appetite for fulfilling the fixture list began to wane when it dawned on Amanda and the rest of her playing and coaching staff that they were in terrible danger every time they left the house as long as they shared a league with a team run by Garkos. Perhaps with this knowledge gnawing away incessantly, the league was disbanded. That and the fact that the Hurricanes would play the Gorgons every second week for no other reason than Garkos wanted the opportunity to kill them all. Or at the very least kidnap one of them or sully their name. The list of the other disbanded teams has been forgotten by the passage of time, so it is apt to list them here: Cairo Pharaohs (Egypt), Rio de Janeiro Cariocas (Brazil), Tokyo Typhoons (Japan), Nudelheim and Bayern Munchhausen (Germany), Real Azul and Pamplona (Spain), Montserrat Pack Rats (Montserrat), Elks (Canada), Standish Park Rangers FC (England), Zambia Zebras (Zambia), Timborary Shamrocks (Ireland), Inverfinnan Celtics (Scotland), and DC Milan (Italy).
Trying to find fans from any of these clubs proved completely fruitless in the research for this piece. Indeed, there are seemingly no records anywhere of the England-based Standish Park Rangers, as the colossal PR machines swung into action and clamped down on any form of dissent. It wouldn’t surprise this author to learn that Stavros Garkos had actually butchered all of the fans of these clubs, in an attempt to hide the gruesome truth of the three-year international football league that courted all the worst excesses of human nature.
As experiments go, the World Soccer League was a noble one in theory, if not practice. But as lessons go, one of the main ones must surely be “do not let a violent psychopath billionaire run a football club operating in a wholly self-governed league”.