I’m not the least bit interested in football. Most of my life, I’ve dated people who aren’t really bothered either. So it’s bloody typical that I ended up marrying a football fanatic. After four years with my football obsessed wife, here are a few observations about the so-called beautiful game.
Observation number 1. It’s not that beautiful.
Controversial I know. But you must admit, football can be really, really, boring. It’s like watching a very slow pinball machine, passing the ball around the back, with not much happening. Around the 40th minute in the first half, and around the 70th minute in the second half, it can get a bit more exciting when the players finally decide to put in a bit more effort to earn their gigantic salaries, but it’s rare that it’s end-to-end action. Goals and the build up to goals, are a mere few seconds of excitement – kind of like sleeping with men.
Observation number 2. The working man’s game has been bought by the rich man.
It’s sad. What was once the stronghold and passion of the average working man, has now been bought, ring fenced, monetised and sold. Access is now restricted to those who can afford expensive season tickets, Sky or BT Sports subscriptions (annoyingly the games are divided between the two, causing major ructions across the land as people discover their partners have signed up for both).
To rub salt in the wound, Sky Sports News makes you watch men watching football, but you’re not actually allowed to watch the football itself. It seems cruel, so cruel, to be watching Jeff and his pals get passionate watching all the action, eyes wide, practically jizzing with excitement. But you’re not allowed to watch - you peasant – oh no – you’re only allowed to watch their faces – I mean why bother! Unbelievable Jeff!
Observation number 3. Football is like the matrix and you can lose touch with reality.
Football may be the first frontier to have multiple dimensions. If your real team isn’t doing so well, don’t worry, you can be happy and in control of your fantasy world - provided the algorithms aren’t against you. You can play football with your local team, physically moving your little legs, running your heart out. You can also watch football at a stadium or on TV. You can also play computer games, pretending to be a footballer or a manager of a football team in manager mode on FIFA. You can also take part in numerous fantasy football leagues. Who knows where reality ends and the fantasy begins.
Observation number 4. Football has so many grey areas.
It’s a contact sport, but not really. You’re allowed to do a sliding tackle, but you need to make sure you touch the ball even if you break your opponent’s legs. You’re allowed a bit of argy bargy, but not too much. You’re allowed a gentle shove, but not too much of a shove. You’re allowed to raise your studs, but not too high. You’re allowed a little bit of shirt pulling, but not too much. If you’re in the penalty box though, don’t even think about looking at your opponent or you could give away a penalty.
Observation number 5. Male footballers were either acrobats, ballerinas or stunt men in previous lives.
They do the most gracious jumps, dives and pirouettes. Take Neymar for example in the last world cup, what a beautiful display of contemporary dance. He’s missed his true calling.
Observation number 6. There is a disproportionate number of cockneys in football.
There are 10 cockneys for every one non-cockney football fan. True story.
Observation number 7. As a football fan, you are free to be yourself.
Unless you are gay, bi, trans, a bit posh (except for Patrick Bamford and Man U fans), liberal, or just anyone that isn’t a repressed white middle-aged man. And god forbid if you’re a woman – what are you doing out of the kitchen?
Observation number 8. Watch enough of it and football infects your brain, whether you like it or not.
You’ll find yourself saying things like ‘£80 million for Maguire? Man U must be mad. Liverpool only paid £75 million for Van Dijk’ or ‘Giroud doesn’t look right in a blue shirt. Traitor.’
Observation number 9. It allows men outside the terrible man box for a precious 90 minutes.
Thanks to societal expectations, when your nan died – your eyes were as dry as a nun’s chuff. Wife left you? Bury those emotions deep inside and let them eat away at you until you’re a bitter, twisted creature. Watch your team get knocked out of the FA cup final – let those fat tears of sadness roll down your cheeks. Scream, shout and shake it all about. Chant angrily, grimace with rage, jump up and down, sing, hug your fellow fans or teammates, touch each other, whip your shirts off and pump your chest like a gorilla. Let it all out. And for this alone – thank god for football.
Observation 10. Everyone hates Man United.