Football’s Back!

Great isn’t it? Deforestation of the Amazon precede the season’s openers with talking heads talking bollocks and deluded fans predicting feats of sporting heroism that in any other context would be categorised as ˜blatant untruths from diseased minds“. You know the kind of thing yeah, I know we finished bottom by thirty points, our manager was sacked for playing a lobster at centre forward and the ground was destroyed by a fallen satellite “ but I fancy us for Europe this year

When you support a club like mine, all your best results come before a ball has been kicked – or again thinking of my home club, an opponent. Although support totally fails to capture my level of participation once the 1985-86 season terminated any actual turning up at the ground and then running away when the fighting started. This was in the days before all seater stadiums, instead four oblong sheds framed a white lined pasture that the cows had only recently dispensed with. Seats were seen as firstly rather middle class and secondly as ammunition. Occasionally if the butty van had run out of hotdogs (mining town, we had no need for abstract concepts, a hot dog was exactly that although warm road-kill offers a more descriptive summary), the shaven, sunken eyed hooligans with swastikas on their arms and hate in their eyes, used to eat the seats. Barking Mad as they were, I’d have to say it was a far safer culinary option that the sausage-inna-bun with Pirelli markings.

Sheffield was a two club city (ah the old jokes come flooding back: Best two clubs in South Yorkshire, United and Rotherham“, cue three days fighting and opportunistic looting) with Wednesday (a.k.a the pigs“, the trotters“, the grunters“, those big fucking lads in blue and white shirts, shit run for it“) having the best ground, the historical trophy provenance and the better team. United (a.ka. The blades“, The bottom of the league“, The team closest to administration“) had a long history without actually winning much, a lowly league position and a team of has-beens and never-likely-to-do-beens. I was queuing up a Sean Bean gag there but you’re spared. For now.

Obviously I supported United. The reason being that a Montague/Capulet dynamic raged around the local schools and your chances of reaching puberty were finely balanced on the edge of the growled question Wednesday-ite or United-Ite?”. Think carefully before you answer while all your limbs are co-located. In our school the uber-nutters supported United and that was good enough for me. Some would say craven sheep like behaviour, others would commend me for such an inspired survival strategy. You had to be flexible though if surrounded by a bunch of fifth formers leaning in and blocking out the light. Spot a trotter at the end of a tattered blazer arm and switch allegiances faster than you can say my head? No, I don’t need it stamping on thanks very muc”?.

To my ever extending list of virtual enemies, please now add every Sheffield Wednesday fan. And soon Liverpool supporters as well. At this rate, an upgrade to my hard disk will be required to archive all the hate mail.

In those days, I’d rather play than watch although my short rise to a level somewhere below mediocrity mirrored that of my favoured team. Oh sure, I went to a few matches, including one terrifying derby where the two seas of red and blue crashed together in a maelstrom of hate. What’s the score” people would ask and having scanned the pitch, my gulping response would be Well we’re kicking the shit out of them in the south stand – I reckon we’re up about a thousand casualties and our substitutes are counterattacking through the Police Baton Charge

United scaled the heights of the old first division at the same time as Wednesday and those two derby’s formed the base of bragging rights for four months. Thankfully my life took me South before the humiliation of our relegation, whilst our fiercest rivals loftily mocked us from the upper echelons of the top league. God it’s still painful thinking about it now and remember I wasn’t even a proper supporter “ but being a card carrying Yorkshireman, sporting grudges is almost a regional identity and if you think I’m joking may I remind you of a small war some 500 years ago. It was a draw, whatever you’ve heard – ok?

The Sunday papers and those awful low budget highlight shows, with production values supplanting even American PBS, kept me in touch with our rollercoaster ride through the lower divisions. Latterly, the Internet came to town and offered all sorts of official web sites, lunatic fanzines and, of course, the final resting place of people who have no sort of life “ I speak of message boards and forums. The irony is that the hatred and bile of the terraces has been seamlessly transplanted into cyberspace with repeated attacks breaching virtual walls in a ground state of distrust and loathing.

I wondered what these arseholes who put the poster into imposter would be like in real life. That’s the kicker “ everyone can be a hooligan behind a keyboard, brave through the power of abstraction and leading the double life of a man (as they generally all are) who can suggest a rival poster keeps his dumb fucking opinions to himself the worthless twat” while possibly serving him a bag of chips the next day. Is it me, or is that weird?

My brief electronic foraging returned a somewhat altered landscape where now if you supported United you had to hate both Wednesday and Leeds with the same intensity. The Leeds fans were “ if possible “ even more single minded and vitriolic many of them signing off with. Leeds till I die“. What’s all that about? It’s like selecting a preferred root vegetable and proclaiming to anyone who cares Maris Piper till I die“. Oh no not a KING EDWARD, I couldn’t possibly.

Anyway even armchair supporters get to share the glory of your team gaining promotion to the premiership. Premiership now there’s a semantic dunce that needs to spend some hard time at grammar school. Brinkmanship passes muster, relationship is everything a four syllable word should be but premiership with an assumed capitalisation? Honestly this country is going to the dogs. Or should that be the Dogz.

My euphoria was tempered by the gap “ nay chasm “ between the lower and Prima Donna leagues. Whenever United were on the box, their favoured park style of a big unit thumping the ball up the field and five and six smaller lads chasing after it in the manner of a dog and a motorbike, jarred somewhat with whatever Match of the Day was serving up. Oh that style still found a home even at this level but only in teams who were footballing equivalent of Luxemburg in the Eurovision song contest. Nul Points – and not likely to get any either.

And no easy start for us “we’d been hoping for a Fulham or a Middlesbrough to gently introduce into these rarefied heights, instead we pulled Liverpool fresh from their success against last years champions, Chelsea. Oh buggery buggery bugger, the pundits view was anything less than a 2-0 defeat would be a moral victory.

Refusing to sacrifice next year’s holiday for a sky subscription, I ˜watched’ the match via the BBC website on my mobile phone, while receiving encouraging text’s from a mate who has all the televisional toys. Quite sad, I’ll concede but maritally far more acceptable than nipping off down the pub for an hour or four. After 45 minutes, we’d far outstripped my expectations by not conceding a goal although we hadn’t been in the big boys’ half very often either.

My phone then downed tools (this is probably because I abused it in an earlier post and have subsequently abandoned it twice since) and I was reduced to peering in Curry’s window whilst fixing the phone through the simple medium of shouting at it. Amazingly United scored “ twice in fact, the first was called offside as the lad was some three yards beyond the final defender but when you’re as rubbish as us that counts as level. But the second one stood as our latest forward (signed from Leeds oh the sweet sweet irony) bulleted the ball goalwards and then disappeared under a press of ecstatic team mates.

It was all looking good until Steve “amateur dramatics” Gerrard performed “dying swan with half twist and pike” in our 18 yard area and his histrionics convinced the ref that only a penalty could be a fair reward for his efforts. Which of course they scored. You could argue that although we are the home team, the Scouse wheel stealers had 60{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} of the position, and an impartial observer may deem this to be a fair score. I, however, am a glory hunting armchair supporter, and consider this to be a travesty tucked just behind the traitorous Stanley’s swapping sides at the battle of Boswell Moor. See “ I told you we’re still bothered about it.

The match petered out to a draw and a brief delve into the forum pit did indeed prove that Gerrard is a ****** ***** *** and should be hung from his **** *** the cheating **** scouse *** *** ***!!!****!”. And breathe fellas, breathe. Refreshingly our manager called it as he saw it for which naivety he’ll be watching the next game from the stands. Or possibly a different country.

No longer shall I be a partially interested observer to the prêt-a-porter nonsense that defines being paid a lot to kick a ball around. No, Match Of The Day shall now be compulsive viewing, Sunday football supplements shall be studied in detail and transfer rumours rigorously searched for on the wibbly. Until we get tonked a few times and relegation threatens. At which point, I’ll slide quietly out of the armchair and pretend I didn’t really care anyway.

Sheffield United until they’re not doing so well“. Works for me

8 thoughts on “Football’s Back!

  1. Wife

    Oh Bum! not MOTD ahhhh!!!!!!

    Mind I’m impressed you actually knew the names of two types of potato and it was n’t chips and mash! LOL

  2. Alex

    I had to look them up on the Internet I’m not that clever. Oh hang on I could have just shouted that upstairs rather than kill innocent electrons. Now this is properly weird – it’s like being stalked 🙂

  3. Watty

    Let’s hope that there’s still a faint glimmer of hope of you staying up come March – when I introduce you to ‘The Bridge’!

  4. Alex

    Do they do pies? I predict we’ll stuff Chelsea about 4-0*

    * it has been suggested I may need to up my medication 🙂

  5. Alex

    That’s scandalous. I’ve asked the ISP to shut it down. Honestly, where is the tiddlywinks section? The bloody minded olympics isn’t in there and neither is the well known endurance event “sit down lad and let me tell you how it was back in my day”

    You see, you’re still cheating 🙂

    I’m not watching football anymore since after our first flush of mediocracy, the last two games read: Played 2, lost 2. Goals for 0, Goals against 3. And it was horrible watching the trotters play leeds, as for the first time I wanted both teams to lose.

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