comment 0

A shame of two halves

Regular readers will be familiar with my antipathy towards football. Never been into it. Grubby, shouty, boring. I’ve spent my life telling anyone who’ll listen how rubbish football is. But yes, the carpet bombing of peak time broadcasts and daily articles arguing whether Foden or Bellingham is better at kicking stuff have claimed another victim.

I’m now watching the football.

Prior to the Goal Cup I was surprised so many people were vocal about Qatar’s medieval human rights record, yet no one seemed bothered that we were all about to be subjected to weeks of blokes jogging about on a big field before pretending to fall over.

But the thing is, I needn’t have worried. After a lifetime of dodging anything soccer shaped, I’ve finally discovered what football really is and why so many people love it.

It’s the most relaxing thing ever invented.

Watching football requires no intellectual engagement whatsoever. Zero. And, assuming like me, you have no strong emotional investment in the outcome, it’s just like staring at a lava lamp, or a pond, or an endless game of Pong with better graphics. Talk about ‘brain off’ TV. As far as gurgling yourself into a lobotomised stupor, it demolishes I’m A CelebrityStrictly and even that Channel 4 show where people point and laugh at each other’s genitals.

I’m not trying to sound deliberately naive. I have genuinely never watched so much foose in my life. And while I haven’t quite nodded off during a match so far, I am aware that my brain is silent, no fretting about bills, no anxiety around unbought Xmas gifts; I feel nothing, it’s like I’ve a head full of gently thickening blancmange. Nothing matters: kick, head, throw in, goal kick, kick, kick, miss… ping, pong, ping, pong… Lovely.

Even the pundits can’t ruin it. Of course they’re getting paid to make it sound more complicated than it is, attempting to gift-wrap the self-evident in Socratic insight. But for all the talk of ‘pressing’ and ‘dropping the shoulder’ and calling goals ‘the end product’, its fundamental dumbness is gloriously apparent. Sooner or later Ian Wright will be asked what a losing team should do differently in the second half and he’ll scratch his chin and say: ‘they need to get out there and score some goals.’ 

I’m particularly drawn to the terrifying half Father Christmas half Peter Sutcliffe that is Roy Keane. He has been celebrated for pointing out what everyone already knew, that Fifa is corrupt, and that Qatar is no place for the World Cup. And good for him. But then, as far as I can tell, stating the bleeding obvious (‘goals win matches’) and exhibiting remarkable foresight after the fact, is a pundit’s role in life. Sorry, but the pseudo-intellectualising of my (now) beloved soccerball isn’t going to ruin it for me. Keane may have the look of a jailed Russian poet, but he clearly belongs in the Overlook Hotel, scribbling away over 500 pages, just the words, ‘bally, bally, goal, ball.’

Even watching team UK get their baguettes handed to them last night can’t burst my balle. I’m enjoying my blancmange brain. Besides, I’m confused by what ‘hold-up’ play is? I don’t understand why some teams are accused of ‘scoring too early’? And why every substitute is called Hublot?

I going to stick with it. After each match I feel 0.3% less intelligent and 0.5% more carefree. Which probably accounts for my seasonally inappropriate get up. It’s freezing, but I’m bobbing about in a lightweight Needles shirt/jacket. A knuckle-headed choice based on my eagerness to debut something I bought it the other day, rather than keeping vaguely warm. For something so simple it wasn’t cheap and yet I know that in a matter of weeks (days?) it’ll end up in the sale bin. I just over-payed on something too insubstantial for the weather. Double dunce. A career in football punditry awaits.


Hat: Engineered Garments
Jacket and shirt: Needles
Trousers: Studio Nicholson
Shoes: Vinny’s

Leave a Reply