Football has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. For a large part of my life, it was arguably THE most important thing in it. As with everything, priorities change. Work, relationships, real life ,all seem to get in the way. It’s not planned, it just happens. Even though we say they won’t get in the way and disrupt our Saturday routine, they invariably do. Even that phrase “Saturday routine” is a thing of the past, given football at all levels is played Monday through to Sunday. I’m writing this on the back of not seeing a live game for a month. Live as in attending, not live as in through a TV screen. For me, that’s about as far removed from “Live” football as you can get. Despite Sky’s attempts to tell us otherwise, there’s nothing more far removed from football than sitting in your living room, watching the latest “Super Sunday” offering. No thanks, not for me. I might catch bits of a game, I might not. I’m not bothered if the truth be told.
No, Live to me means exactly that. I’ve made the effort to walk down the road, jump on a bus. Jump on a train. Hell, even a taxi if I’ve managed to miss the former. Actually going to a game. As I touched on above, it’s been a slow start to the season for me. The usual blitz of fixtures early on, has been replaced with a period of inactivity. The above mentioned “real life” things have transpired to get in the way. If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you that football is never interrupted. In a way she’s right. Thankfully technology – even with my basic grasp of it – means I’m never far from knowing the score, or checking for updates. But even checking Twitter at 4;45pm on a Saturday evening, or watching Final Score on the BBC can be a hollow experience. That overwhelming feeling, that, no matter what the score, win lose or draw, you’ve managed to miss another game. Even a victory doesn’t feel the same if you’ve not actually seen it ! Maybe it’s just me ? Maybe you’re reading this, and an element of what I’m saying rings true with you. Or perhaps you’re fortunate enough not to miss a game. Perhaps you have the correct work/ Life balance, or at least have your shifts covered on a Saturday, or are sensible enough to organise family gatherings between the first week in May to the last week in July !
As I said at the beginning of this piece, football has always been in my life. Truth be told, it always will, in some form or other. And yet slowly but surely, at the age of 43, and after 36 years of watching football on a regular basis, it sometimes feels like it’s slowly slipping away. I’ve found it hard to put my finger on just why. Indeed I’ve found it hard to figure out exactly what it is that’s slipping away. It’s not that I don’t love football, because I do. Let me give you an example. Match of the Day has gone from a must-see on a Saturday night, to being put on record, to being deleted off the Sky+, if I’ve not got round to watching it by Monday evening. Something that was once a priority, is now something I might watch, if I get round to it ! This season I’ve deleted more Championship and Football League highlights than I’ve watched. Perhaps it’s just that football is in the “here and now” category, such is it’s popularity these days. Lets be honest, with 24 hour dedicated sports channels and radio stations, not to mention social media, anything older than 24 hours is old news. It’s been repeated, or spoken about, or written about, to the end. If you’ve not seen football highlights by Sunday night, you must have been living on the moon.
It’s said that too much of a good thing is fantastic. Not for me. Perhaps this constant saturated coverage of football is part of the reason for my “Mid-life crisis” ( from a football point of view, I hasten to add ). As I write this- my therapy -it’s all becoming clearer. In my haste to stay in the football “Loop”, I’ve actually overdosed on it. I don’t need 24 hour coverage. I don’t need Super Sunday, Monday Night Football, and whatever the bloody Friday concoction is called. I don’t need Sky Sports News offering every view and comment. I don’t need TalkSport going over every talking point, or creating them when there aren’t any. Less is actually more. Just because I’ve missed seeing my team play at the weekend, doesn’t mean I now need to watch 3 back-to-back TV games to regain my “man points” allocation. What I perceived as my saviour is actually the Devil in disguise. You see, I’m the generation that, if we wanted to watch football, we had to actually leave the house. I still am. That’s why every other weekend I try to keep my Saturday’s free, to get to a game with like-minded people, to stand on a cold terrace and talk crap about football and life, all the while ridiculing the opposition left back for having a top-knot, or standard issue footballer tattoo’s !
Tonight, Tuesday, is the start of my comeback. When my football mo-jo returns. It’s the start of 5 games in 3 weeks ( family / work / the Apocalypse permitting ). My first game for a month. I’m off to Hall Road Rangers vs Yorkshire Amateurs in the Northern Counties East League Division 1. It’s not the pinnacle of football. It’s not even the pinnacle of the Northern Counties East League, but it doesn’t need to be. It is what it is. Live football, in the fresh air, stood with mates. It’s how the game was meant to be viewed. It’s the start of the process of rekindling my love again for the Beautiful Game, in all it’s basic glory.