On Saturday evening, as I relaxed in the sweet balm of England’s amazing win at Trent Bridge, I was hit by a momentous realisation. For the first time in the best part of three decades I had missed the opening day of the football season. I didn’t even know the games were happening.
Partly, this was because cricket had totally consumed my sporting attention. But it was also something else. Somewhere deep inside I knew I didn’t really care about the fixtures. Or the results. Not even those of Chelsea. And I have supported them since I was 12.
Despite this, my immediate response was to flick open my phone and check out the day’s results. This revealed that Chelsea had drawn 2-2 with Swansea and that Man Utd had fluked a 1-0 win against Spurs. Again. After that? Nothing. I went no further. Instead, I started thinking.
Just what is it about football that gives it such a hold? I have followed every other form of sport over the years but none have provoked anything like the same degree of slavish obsession. Is it socialisation? Tribalism? A deep-seated need to watch leather hitting an onion bag? Perhaps, it is the result of mass marketing? I really had no idea.
It was then I reached a momentous decision. An epiphany of sorts. Rather than think about it, why not put it to the test? Why not see if football is something I’m actually interested in because I like the game, or whether it is simply an elongated soap opera I’ve been taught to enjoy from an early age?
So, from now to the end of the 2015/2016 Premier League season I am going to try and avoid watching any form of top-level football. That means no Premier League, no Champions League and no Internationals until that godawful golden-crowned trophy is hoisted shoulder-high by its equally ridiculous ears.
As you can probably tell it’s a task I have taken on with no clear idea of the future ramifications. Not least, because I have just realised that it’ll mean I’m going to have to somehow avoid all forms of football journalism for the best part of a year. As for the pub? Well, I may have to drink myself into a coma to avoid the banter. Still, no change there…
To kick-start the process I have not taken part in any Fantasy Football leagues. I have also avoided all of the football highlights this weekend and haven’t watched the TV news or read any of the weekend papers. The most I’ve seen is a brief glimpse of Thibaut Courtois tripping a Swansea player. I’m guessing it was a dive, but I may be a tad biased.
Other than the Chelsea and Man Utd results I have learned that West Ham beat Arsenal through a Facebook post. Also, that Coutinho scored some kind of wonder goal for Liverpool. Apparently, LVG is looking for another player too, while Jose is still trying to lure John Stones away from Everton. Arsene, as usual, is having to defend a bad first day.
And that’s about it.
So as far as I am aware the table currently looks like this:
West Ham: 3pts
Man Utd: 3pts
I have to openly admit that there’s a very good chance that I will crumble within the first fortnight of this idiotic scheme and spend a couple of days soaking up every kick, goal and offside chance I’ve missed. Not to mention the abuse of everyone who knows me. But I’m willing to give it a go.
Wish me luck!