Football is not a matter of life or death, it is more important than that
Home Paul Kavanagh / My Football / Love it Hate it

Love it Hate it

GAME OF TWO OTHER HALVES

 

The two articles below are copied from the Sun newspaper, they are promotion for a new book written jointly by two of the UK’s best known comedians. The idea behind the book is the divide football can cause in a relationship. Now as a fan of the beautiful game myself I just don’t see that there is a divide, but of course that is a bias view and yes there are some people in the world who do not like football, there may even be a few that hate the game, and I suppose we have to let them have that choice.

When I saw the piece in the paper I knew I wanted to copy it on my site Paulkavanagh.com because it is just the sort of thing that tickles me, reading Alistair’s part made me laugh because it shows me that I am not the only one who does these obsessive things, and then reading what Ronni had to say just made me laugh out loud, because deep down to write the things she did just showed that football had infected her and that she knew more about it than she may ever have wanted.

I really do not know if any of my family have ever felt the same as Ronni, I love football, I watch football, I read about football and today I write about it, I even play football management football games on my laptop, but that does not stop others from living their lives so what is the problem. Anyway have a read of these and make your own mind up, if these snaps are anything to go by, the book itself might be quite a good read.

HIS SIDE

ALISTAIR says:  “I love football.  Most of my days begin with reading the back pages of the newspaper and they end with a look at the Ceefax results.

For most men, football is a life choice.  Once you’re in, you’re trapped.

It’s like cigarettes and alcohol – it makes no sense really, but you do it because at some point you got addicted.

Looking at Ceefax page 302 is something I have done for 20 years and the habit, the comfort, the tradition, is a part of my life.

I scour the neat lists of places and numbers, division after division.

Half an hour goes by and I find myself still staring at League Two and working out the points Rochdale need to get to the play-off.  Why do I do this?  Because I am addicted to football.

I guarantee any man who hasn’t fallen in love with football as a small boy is now either a dancer in a West End show or a minicab driver who only works until 4pm, then goes back to play backgammon on the internet.  Or he likes rugby.

The root of my addiction, also like most men, stems from my dear father.  The first present he bought me was a football.  He also took me to my first game, which I watched while sitting on his shoulders when I was five.  And we must have spent hundreds of hours talking about football.

Even before a child can walk, an impatient dad will hold his gurgling boy behind a ball and encourage him to swing a puppy-fat leg at it.

What a lot of women can’t understand about a man’s love of football is that it is a time when we can pour out all our emotions and not feel ashamed.

We aren’t known for being in touch with our sensitive side but it’s acceptable to cry with or hug another man during a football match.  Ronni doesn’t understand how I can listen to football commentary on the radio and still get excited, as there is nothing to see.

But that is precisely what makes it more exciting – it’s like having sex blindfolded.

Sure, I can recognise that being a football fan can be a very depressing existence and we have to endure a great deal of moaning.

I spend hours listening to endless radio phone-ins with callers moaning about referees, managers, players, fans, tickets, shirts, the commentator, the previous caller, trains, parking, the pitch ... but football always gives us a balance too.

Seeing your team score a winning goal outdoes all those lows, which is why men continue to love the beautiful game so dearly.

In my experience, women could put men off going to matches fairly easily by simply going to matches with them – especially by asking them embarrassing questions which are audible to the surrounding fans.

When Ronni and I went to a game together at Spurs, I remember her saying, quite audibly as the team mascots ran out, ‘Who are the ones in the furry suits?  Are they the players who didn’t get picked?’  It got a great laugh from those around us, until they realised she was serious”.

HER SIDE

Ronni says:

“When I look at football fans cheering and crying, fighting and hugging and spending hundreds of pounds on a disgusting strip that changes every season, I simply think:  ‘Why?’

They get more emotional about 11 men kicking a football around a field for 90 minutes than they do about a long-term relationship.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Alistair is a prime example of this.  He was obsessed with the facts and figures of the game and would spend hours pouring over results of teams I had never heard of and religiously watching Match Of The Day.

He was also mildly fanatical about reading the scores on Ceefax.  It was like a nervous tic.  He’d have to look at them on an hourly basis on a Saturday otherwise he could not relax.

All those wasted Sunday mornings – he couldn’t do anything until he’d devoured all the facts and figures in the sports sections of the paper.  Why did he need to know them so well?  There wasn’t going to be a test.”

Since parting from Alistair, Ronni has been married to Gerard Hall, a doctor, for five years.  They have two daughters, Lily, four, and Elsa, 19 months.

She continues “As someone who did not grow up in a family where football was loved, I often found being with a football fan extremely frustrating.

One of my biggest gripes about the games is the players.  They are paid ridiculous sums, hardly ever come from the area they play for and don’t have their pay cut if they don’t play well.  Surely the point of playing football is to score a goal?  But they don’t seem to be punished if they don’t.

In any other place of work not doing the job you are paid to do means that you may get fired.  But football fans seem to happily accept that a player can be ‘having a bad match’, even if they are being paid £50k a minute to do it!

It’s no longer part of the community.  The players have next to no connection with the area. They’re not two teams of local players – they’re two corporations.

The World Cup generates so much excitement, inspires all that commitment (even from me!), and then the whole caboodle normally hinges on a bit of cheating or a referee completely missing an important incident that even I can see – a push, a trip, a shirt pull, a blatant offside.

I think they could easily use technology in football.  But they know that if the referee’s decisions were all backed up with video analysis, then men would have nothing to argue about at work or in the pub.  Football is an addiction – like smoking or alcohol.  I believe there is such a phenomenon as ‘passive football’.  People who have to be around the twenty-a-day football fan get affected by it too.  It seeps into our hearts and lungs and minds.

Alistair played football three times a week, read about football, wrote about football, went to watch football every week – football became his life.  And it slowly started to ruin mine.

Obviously, I realise I’m making sweeping generalisations and there are a great many women who are fanatical about football too.

But I do feel, on the whole, the percentage of men who truly adore footie outnumbers women.

Sometimes I do find myself wondering, if such a large percentage of the population love it, why can’t I similarly get excited about watching a group of men kicking a ball about on a piece of grass Saturday after Saturday, Sunday after Sunday, week in, week out, month after month, year in, year out, decade after decade?

Hmmm, I think I’ve just answered my own question”.

 

© 2008 Paul Kavanagh. All rights reserved.