28 July 2010 (Monday) - Football (Sorry!)

I hear we have been knocked out of the world cup.

OK – let’s stop there and re-read that sentence. Whilst everyone will immediately understand it, it is wrong in so many ways. Which world cup? And were “we” playing yesterday? I certainly wasn’t.

Oh, I so hate football. And again, words are failing me. I don’t hate football at all. I quite enjoy playing it. It wasn’t that long since I organised and managed a football team in a local five-a-side league. Admittedly we came last, with our best score in ten matches being a 4:1 defeat, but it was fun. We would have a great time charging up and down the pitch. No one ever watched us, other than our two substitutes, but we didn’t care. Football was to be played, not watched. I must admit I don’t like watching other people playing football: I find it rather boring and simplistic. After all, after watching five minutes of a game of football, you really have seen all that the game has to offer.

What annoys me is the way that so many people are taken in by the hype of football. So the England team was playing in the World Cup. Fair enough - those who follow football enjoyed it, and rightly so. But what about those who don’t follow football? Thousands of people who wouldn’t know an offside from a left wing were glued to TV sets across the country “because it’s England”. Do these people support the English rifle team? Or the English lacrosse team? Or the English arm-wrestling team? Of course they don’t. Did anyone know that the five times kite-boarding world champion is English?

And as I drove to work this morning I noticed that so many of the silly little flags that people were flying from their cars have now gone. Do these people stop being patriotic now that the football team isn’t playing any more?

I’m rather embarrassed to admit that my own son (who never watches football), together with over a dozen mates (who also never watch football), went to London yesterday to watch the match in a pub there, “because it’s England”. Look at yesterday’s and today’s Facebook statuses. The nation is in mourning for a game that no one plays or understands. Call up Google News – even the Prime Minister is distraught.

And look at yesterday’s match. The England team was playing a German team. Hatreds from a war that was finished half a century ago were again ignited. I heard this morning that one of the astro club members who is currently on holiday abroad has been embarrassed to be English because of his fellow countrymen’s attitude toward the German guests in his hotel. Chants of “Who won the War” were being bandied about at innocent German holidaymakers. I remember a football game a few years ago between the English and Portuguese teams. A good friend of mine who is rather darker of complexion than me was scared to walk the streets for a week. He didn’t want to be mistaken for being of Portuguese extraction. Portuguese people living in the UK were being assaulted by football fans for no better reason than their national football team had beaten the English national team. Is a game of football that important that people feel they need to attack someone they feel might be cheering for a team that has beaten their chosen team?

And I myself have received quite a fair share of verbal abuse and hatred over the last couple of weeks because of my indifference to the game. People who thought I was still a scout leader told me that I was a terrible role model to the children. Why? - For the simple reason that I wasn’t noisily following a sport that holds absolutely no interest for me whatsoever. I replied to my critics that I believed that “patriotism” and “football” are two very different concepts.

And I am left wondering how on Earth did England as a nation manage to get the two to be synonymous?


  1. I never watch football on TV, but I caught myself watching the game yesterday.

  2. What insensed me and I told ofsted so in the anonymous questionaire they sent out prior to their inspection on Thursday, was that the junior school half of Bon-bon's school finished an hour early on Wednesday for the England match.