All entries for Thursday 05 May 2005

May 05, 2005

Irrational Passion (Football In This Case)

This article is about football because that's what inspired it, but it can equally apply to any sport and to about a million and one non-sporting things.

I have been ever-so-slightly more deaf in one ear today than usual due to me picking possibly the most ill-timed moment yet to ring home yesterday. I was sure dad would answer, but no it was mum, all high pitched whoops and whistles. She told me in no uncertain terms that she had hated the previous 90 minutes, every excruitiating second, every single kick, pass and fumble. The most stressful hour and a half for a very long time. All this and mum's a Liverpool fan. Yeah, that's right, the team that won.

I know what she means though. I hate the way a one-nil lead ain't enough. Or the way chasing a one-nil lead is the worst thing ever. But why? I mean seriously, why?

As has been pointed out to me by numerous people since time began it's totally irrational. Completely. Being a football fan doesn't affect anything. Your support will not make your team win. It will not bring trophies. Not even the League Cup. You do not contribute in any useful way to how they play and yet... yet, it feels so important. They, those eleven men, win the game, but we share the feeling of elation. We go around proudly carping, or dejectedly whinging, or frustratedly bemoaning the draw. We call them our teams when they owe us nothing and we contribute so little.

But it matters to us! And I can't figure out why! It cuts way deeper than logic or reason. It's not like national pride really, though it could be a replacement for this (especially international football) in this day when it's so uncool to love your country. At least with national pride you are part of that nation. There may even be real danger which causes the national conflict. No one's in any danger from football, unless Milwall fans have come to town.

Why do I care? I don't want to sometimes. Better to be like so many people I know who play football and have that sense of club involvement, but not the supporting of a club they have nothing to do with. It is horrible watching your team lose. Dodgy goals and crappy refs and sheer, unadulterated bad luck just grind your nerves into the ground. Days of torment like England-Argentina in 1998, Ireland-Spain in 2000 and every European Cup game Manchester United have been put out in since 1999 and indeed before then. I hate it but I can't stop. How stupid is that? I will criticise and moan but stick with it. It's an abusive relationship. It's a stupid idea I sold myself to. Fuck it, it's love and no rational thought can stop it.

Just a thought…

1973 Denis Law scores a cheeky backheel that gives Manchester City a nice win. Does he celebrate? No. He hangs his head and looks utterly dejected. The reason? He scored that goal against Manchester United and therefore relegated them to the second division. His team won. Except they didn't. That's what it's all about. And yes, it is too late for me. Run. Save yourselves and your children.


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