A return to form? Confessions of a football fan.
Apparently there’s nothing like a win over the Manc’s to bring a reclusive blogger out of hiding.
It’s been a while since I’d forced my thoughts and opinions upon anyone else in a form more than 140 characters but then it’d been a while since I’d actually wanted too. You see, I’d grown frustrated and saturated with Football. Things were happening which my Kylie Minogue-sized brain couldn’t handle… £35m for Andy Carroll? Ronaldo retiring, Keys and Gray ‘smashing it’, Ashley Cole shooting someone and Gary Hooper being rumoured as a possible ENGLAND striker?!?! What has been happening to my beloved football? When the likes of Jay Bothroyd and Gary Hooper have a chance of wearing your national team’s colours it’s enough to make anyone want to crawl under a rock and die.
But alas, my frustration with the beautiful game could only last so long. I found myself drawn back into the world of clichéd punditry, ridiculous salaries and managers acting like a pair of old ladies (take your pick: Lennon, Wenger, Ferguson, McCoist…) But I couldn’t stay away. As ridiculous as this game can be there are moments of raw emotion that seem to knock all logic and sense out of my head, moments of such unrivalled passion that make me want to cuddle it afterwards and tenderly whisper “I Love You” whilst the tears still roll down my flushed cheeks…
Now that I’ve got that off my chest I only feel it’s right to carry on my confession. What were those moments? First off, my dad is as jaded a football fan as there can be. He refuses to watch England after having been perpetually disappointed over the last 35 years and has seen his beloved Liverpool go from the best team in history (Don’t blame me, I was indoctrinated at a young age!) to the inconsistent, flippin awful – world beaters we are today. But watching the first leg of the ‘Barsenal’ tie I saw my Dad’s eyes light up. This was football. Pure, simple football. No massive BARCLAYS branding everywhere, no play acting, nobody getting shot. Just football. “This is what the Reds used to play like…” my Dad would shout at regular five minute intervals. “That Maxwell’s a cheap man’s Emlyn Hughes…” He would shout at regular two minute intervals. “That Pep fella might be good but he’s no King Kenny, is he son?” He would ask every thirty seconds. There was something about Barcelona’s well documented play which had re-ignited my Dad’s love for the game and mine as well.
Secondly, Liverpool’s wonderful victory over the Manc’s is a surefire way to get any wannabe Scouser’s cock-a-hoop and overcome with emotion. (And in the same way a 1-0 aggregate loss to Braga is a surefire way to bring us back down to earth.) But this is my point. Football, away from the scandal and the shock and the commercialisation is enough to push all rational thought out of any logical person’s brain and instead replace it with an adrenaline pumped, utterly biased, Neanderthal brain which can only muster the simplest of idioms: “We all dream of a team of Carraghers, a team of Carraghers, a team of Carraghers…”
And thirdly, and this may seem a little left-field but…I was roused from my cynical slumber by Arsene’s re-hiring of Jens “I’m-a-nutter-German-with-a-penchant-for-the-unpredictable” Lehmann. I find it bizarre, hilarious and exciting that a character like Lehmann has been given the opportunity to return to the game. Quite simply it makes me smile. With the BBC, ITV and unsurprisingly Channel 5 hiring has-been ex-players as ill-informed pundits it’s always been a shame that characters such as Lehmann, Roy Keane, hell, even Diego Maradona (ignore the fact he doesn’t speak English) haven’t been given as many chances to just let ‘the crazy’ loose.
I’m far removed from the optimistic child who believed Patrick Burger could solve all my problems and Vladimir Smicer could make life rosy again. I know our sport is below par in many levels but the game still remains the same. It still comes down to ‘chalkboard’ diagrams, passionate team talks and twenty two players lumping a ball up and down a length of grass. The simplicity is where the joys at.
And so, even after a terrible performance by “The Super Reds” last night I’m excited by our trip to the Stadium of Light on Sunday. That’s what football should be about. Loyalty, excitement, optimism and a simplicity that can engage the most single minded person in euphoric belief that ‘they’ can achieve greatness. So let’s forget about the controversy and the hype and just enjoy sunny spring saturdays (good use of alliteration there…) and cheer on our teams with more passion than they deserve.