The Beautiful Game

I like a bit of football, me. Proper football. You know. The Beautiful Game…

I don’t get it watch it all that often these days, but I do when I can. National and international. I care more about my beloved Lilywhites than I do about England, but that’s not what we are going to talk about today.

Football get’s a bad rap. Increasingly these days it’s seems systematically trying to strangle itself to death with whatever it can get hold of. Recent trials of (the scumbag) John Terry, and all that: Not pleasant. Last year there was a similar incident with some other players and it’s all generally a lot less beautiful these days. A few years ago Tottenham made headlines for some horrible, horrible noise they made about Judas, sorry I mean Sol Campbell. And every couple of weeks or so you hear about some incident where some less evolved troglodyte has gone and done something silly. It’s pretty much endemic.

I have spent countless hours defending the game. AMN1 is a fan of that egg shaped ball game. I am not going to getting into a pissing contest about manliness and diving and blood capsules and all the rest of it. They are just games. And that’s the point.

Sometimes, it’s a horrible game.

The picture on the heading of David Beckham taking a free kick is from 2001. It was England against Greece, the stakes were high and he took that kick. That beautiful kick. I have long been a fan of international football, but that moment was pretty special. David Beckham, if you don’t follow the game, got sent off in the World Cup in 1998. He was hated. That kick pretty much sealed his redemption. At least it did for me, and I am sure it did for lots of other people. It had all the drama and passion and heartbreak and, well, it was great entertainment. I distinctly remember celebrating with only one other England fan and let’s just say there was beer, shouting, and a table may have been upended at some point. There are other moments that I could point to where similar incidents like this have happened. I have on at least two occasions stood up on chairs and tables very much not sober swearing loudly at a television. Tottenham Hotspur: sometimes it’s really that bad.

But I love Tottenham. In my heart I do. And I love England. A little less. It’s more the like the child you have to love because it’s yours, rather than because  you think it deserves it. BUT I know where the line is drawn. I have never got into an actual fight over a football game. I have said some very nasty things about fans of other teams. Particularly that lot from Woolich, but they are lesser humans. No I jest. Tottenham and Arsenal have a great big rivalry, but sheer coincidence has it that I have more friends that support Arsenal than I have friends that support Tottenham. I have not glassed a single one of them. Though a couple do deserve it.

It’s a game that ignites passions, but recently these passions have boiled over and ruined a lot of good things that football does. Yes it’s got a disgusting amount of money involved in it. There are far too many willfully uneducated morons that do stupid things in the name of it. But it really is a case of a small minority ruining it for the rest of us. If you haven’t the sense to see that, well first open your fucking eyes. Last night England played San Marino (ENG-GER-LAND, ENG-GER-LAND, ENG-GER-LAND). This morning there were no riots in the streets like days of old. England fans actually don’t seem to get into fights like they used to. I will always remember having to defend being (half) English, for no apparent reason because of English football fans. I think it’s about time that stopped. A common gripe is all the money in football, but no one ever talks about the charities that benefit from the patronage of players and teams. Tottenham was upended in the riots last year, and the team made sure it had a big presence in the area to show support and donate. It does do good things.

On the other hand it does get my back up when stupid shit does happen, and like I said it happens regularly. I have many times been embarrassed to admit being a football fan because there are so instances where something so incredulous has happened there really aren’t words to describe it. The terraces can be great places, but they can also being chilling examples of herd mentality, where one idiot starts calling someone else a bad name and then whole songs about awful things end up in the news the next day. I think passion is a good thing. But I don’t think it should stem to kicking someone’s head in. I also don’t think looking down on people that like football is really a clever way to win the argument either. Because that might get your head kicked in.

2 Responses to “The Beautiful Game”
  1. Pete Kennedy says:

    If people were watching the track and field events of the Olympics most weeks of the year, we’d hear far more about the athletes ill-behaviour than we do currently and we’d also feel as saturated with the sports. Football seems to have taken over our culture due to the ability for corps to make money off the back of it. However, people like ourselves are also genuinely passionate about it. I remember Arjen Robben, a Dutchman no less claiming he’s never seen a level of interest or passion for the game anywhere in the world…again, that’s coming from a Dutchman!
    I am biased, but I genuinely believe football is one of the world’s greatest art forms. I’ve heard someone claim it’s a mix of chess and ballet. Although I may be biased, there must be something empirically true in my claim, considering the billions of people who watch and participate in the sport every year. The game has EVERYTHING and it’s cultural significance is unrivalled by any other sport.
    You may already know of him, but Tim Vickery is perhaps the best football journalist around. He lives in Brazil and reports on South American football for the BBC. He’s also on 5 Live’s World Football Phone-In every Saturday morning (like 2am, get the podcast!). Check out his blog – his football reporting on radio and in writing is a great way to learn about a distant culture.

    • Angry Man Number Two says:

      I read Tim Vickery’s blog for the BBC. At least I used to. They were blocked in China, all BBC blogs were, even though it was about sport. I believe it has a great ability to unite, but equally it can divide.

      Speaking of Robben, I will always remember King Ledley legging it back and knicking the ball off of him when he was clean on goal. Beautiful.

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