Fans of the Aviva Premiership are struggling to find someone to replace Chris Ashton as their least favourite player, when the winger moves to France this summer. Very few people conjure up the same amount of vitriol as the former England winger and as an undisputed villain for visiting support, the Saracens man will leave a big hole. Debate is raging as to who should fill the void.
“I’m not entirely sure why we hate Chris Ashton,” said Anthony Bellend, the chairman of the ‘Chris Ashton Negative Thoughts Society’. “He’s just got one of those faces. And what with that swan dive and smug grin, when we started shouting abuse at him, other people joined in. I was shocked when I heard about his move to Toulon. My first thought was for all those poor Prem fans and how they would adjust. Not having Chris around to despise is going to be very tough.”
Recently, Chris Ashton has had his run in with the disciplinary committee for gouging and biting, but Bellend, whose father was one of the first people to shout obscenities at Austin Healey at Welford Road in the 1990s, explains that his appeal is not really about that. “It’s difficult to explain. It’s not really about what you do, or are found guilty of, it’s about how people perceive you; what people think you must be like. Look at Manu Tuilagi, he’s done some terrible things but we all love him. Basically, we feel Ashton looks like a twat. So regardless of what he actually does, we all hate him.”
The winger’s transfer to the ‘Galacticos’ of Toulon came as something of a shock for his legion of haters and it had Bellend’s society scrambling around to try and work out what to do next.
“As soon as we heard, we called an extraordinary CANTS meeting, to talk about the future. Everyone agreed that we couldn’t go on without someone like Chris; we had to find a successor. We spent about five hours that evening going through candidates, trying to work out who would be best. In truth, it is a very difficult job to fill. Chris was an outstanding individual. He had the perfect blend of being able to play rugby really well, whilst also being able to cultivate a general displeasure amongst opposition fans. I won’t lie, when we went through some of things we’d shouted at him and the way he’d just stood there and taken it, we shed a few tears; things aren’t going to be the same.”
Bookies are offering short prices on Mike Brown or Dylan Hartley replacing Ashton but Bellend doesn’t think it will be so straightforward.
“They are obvious choices, but those guys still get in the England team; that makes things awkward. That was what was so good about Chris… Danny Cipriani is a potential but he does some really lovely stuff with fans on his social media accounts. Ashton never did any of that shit. He really was perfect.”
With the decent price of flights to the Cote D’Azur, it is hoped that Bellend and his friends will still be able to go and watch their least favourite player in France. “Some of us are planning a trip over to the Stade Felix Mayol to go and see him in the Top 14 next season. Our treasurer is currently learning loads of French swear words and hopefully we will be able to convert some of the locals. It should be quite a special weekend, we are really looking forward to it.”