Friday, 13 July 2018

Neverending Top Ten #6.1 - World Cup Fever

I'm writing this post at 7.30pm on Wednesday the 11th of July, a confession which I'm sure will be greeted with horror by many readers of this blog... even the Scottish ones.

"You mean, you're not watching the football? The semi-final? England's greatest opportunity since 1966? You're writing a bloody music blog instead, one that gets read by 9 people if you're lucky?"

Well, yes.

But this isn't an anti-football post, I'm not going to be one of those football-loathing party poopers who whinge on about 11 overpaid morons chasing a cow's stomach round the pitch for 90 minutes etc. etc... because the game is on downstairs and Sam is watching it with his granddad. Early on in the World Cup, Louise (who's not a football fan either, but did grow up in a house of them) decided to try to encourage Sam's interest in the game, "so he won't end up as a social pariah like you".

Those weren't her exact words, but that was the general gist.

It's true that not liking football does hamper you in certain social situations, especially ones where all the blokes go off in one room and leave the women to talk about normal, sensible, real world things (and Love Island). Because one of the few things most blokes can talk about is football, and if you can't talk about it... if you can't even feign an interest... you'd be better off going out in the garden and talking to the gnomes.

This isn't the only concession I've made to the game I've held a lifelong antipathy for. Every Saturday morning I take Sam to Little Strikers, a junior football class where he can pick up skills that might mean he won't always be last to be picked for the team in P.E. when he gets a bit older.

Strange as it may seem, I once had my football dreams
But I was always the last one, the last to get chosen
When my classmates picked their teams

I guess that was the way it stayed in every game I played
Life just tripped me and clattered and kicked me
Till you picked me from the parade

At least I had one up on Billy Bragg in that regard... I never dreamed of being a football player in the first place.

Still, I do wonder whether we're doing Sam a huge disservice here. What if England actually win? What if his first experience of football, and the World Bloody Cup, is a victory? Isn't that just setting him up for a lifetime of hurt? Louise's dad was 16 in 1966... he's had to face up to crushing disappointment upon crushing disappointment ever since, but at least he was 16. You kind of expect things to gradually get worse when you're 16. It's in your teenage DNA. But Sam's only 4! If he really starts to believe the dream at such a young age... isn't that some kind of unbearable cruelty to inflict on one so young?

To be fair, I'm not actually that sure he's interested in the game itself, but he does like the statistics. Maybe he'll become a mathematician rather than a sportsman. I hope so. Better odds in that future, surely...

I don't want to play football
I don't understand the rules of the game
I don't want to play football
I don't understand the thrill of the running, catching, throwing
Taking orders from a moron
Grabbing for the sweaty crotches
Getting hit by people I don't know
Sugar, I'd rather play a different sort of game
Sugar, the girls are just as good as boy at playing

Well, by now we all know the outcome of this particular story... I'm writing this postscript on Thursday morning. Last night, when the game went to extra time, Sam decided to go to bed, "so he wouldn't be too tired in the morning". A very sensible decision for a 4 year old, but also perhaps one that reflects a dawning awareness of the harsh realities of life.

The plus side to not being a football fan is this... While a large part of the country woke up this morning feeling somewhere between crestfallen and heartbroken, I woke up feeling like I always do. (Somewhere between crestfallen and heartbroken, but not because of the football.) Sam woke up, asked what the score was, and accepted it pretty easily. (There's been lots of talk over the last couple of weeks about "being a good sport" and "not the winning but the taking part".) In the long run, it's probably a better result for him than setting him up to believe we can all be winners...


  1. I hazard to guess you expected crickets in the comments section today. Good to see George Best at the top of the post. If you don't watch football, listening to that album is about the best alternative. For me, I think living through the agony of defeat is worth the sacrifice when there is even a tiny hope your team can pull it off. I'm a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, the lovable losers as they were always called. They had not won a World Series from 1908 through 2015. Well, they pulled it off in 2016, and the feeling couldn't have been sweeter. I did watch England's match, and I rooted hard for them to make it to the finals. When Croatia scored, it gave that squad such a jolt. It was like watching two games. Maybe next time... and that's enough to make most fans watch again... and again.

    1. I always expect tumbleweed here, Brian, so it's always a bonus when anyone leaves a comment as for the life of me, I can't understand why people would waste their busy lives reading this drivel at all.

      I understand rooting for the underdogs even though I'm not a sports fan. It's like that in music too...when you want your favourite band to get to the top of the charts but they never do.

    2. I was just poking a little fun, Rol. I know football means an awful lot to an awful many in your part of the world. I wonder if I can stay awake to play your game tonight?

    3. No offence taken, Brian. I guess I was too late for you again today - sorry!

  2. Lovely post. I'm missing the footballing gene too (and the Love Island gene), but I'm guessing it must have far more serious consequences for a bloke re promotions etc.

    1. Fortunately it's never affected me in the workplace, but I imagine it has others.

      Good to hear from you again, Laura. Hope you're doing well.

  3. Mind you, I've been told (by those who know) that real men favour the pointy ball and that sport tends to breed a better class of gentleman.

    1. May be true... But as one who was bullied into playing
      rugby by games teachers "because you're a big lad"...let's just say I never took to it.

  4. I grew up in a footballing household too so although I no longer follow a team, I still get quite excited about the big tournaments. Despite being a Scot I was really rooting for England to get to the final but as we all now know, it wasn’t meant to be. Life can be quite dull sometimes (not complaining, just sayin’) but when your team is on a bit of a roll, you suddenly have a spring in your step and all the excitement of what might yet be to come. As for the disappointment, just like with affairs of the heart - better to have loved watching your team and lost, than never to have watched at all (I think).

    Ps What’s left of Sat Snapshots too tough for me this week which is how I ended up here.

    1. It's a cruel game... Saturday Snapshots, I mean.


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