30 July 2009
A bunch of my mates are currently in China, watching Hull City's involvement in the brief pre-season jolly-up called the Barclays Asia Trophy. I still can't work out, as I read their (inebriated) online accounts of their experiences, whether I wish I was with them or not.
I am not an experienced traveller, but I have acquired an urge to travel more. However, China is one place I've never really fancied and I still don't, despite my new-found itchy feet. I don't know why. Maybe I've got a worthy principle within my being not to spend my money within the borders of a country with such a poor human rights record. Maybe it's because I'm shit at using chopsticks. Yet when the tournament was announced and pals began looking at decent flight and hotel deals for five days in Beijing, I was sorely, sorely tempted.
Short shrift was offered at home, correctly, and so the idea of me going to China was quickly abandoned. The lads who have gone are either younger than me, or single, or mortgage-free, or all of the above. And they all have jobs which entitle them to paid annual leave. I don't.
So, given that I'm mature enough to accept that I'm of an age and with a level of responsibility that means beanos to the Far East on a whim just to watch football in smoggy conditions (something which you can get just as easily in Middlesbrough for 0.01 per cent of the expense and upheaval) are a non-starter, why does a bit of me feel like I've missed out? After all, ultimately you non-footballists will say I've made the right decision purely because it would be insane to spend so many quids just to watch a couple of football matches which are more designed to spread Hull City's name in warmer, distant climes than it is to benefit footballers or to entertain the public, be they from Beijing or Bridlington. Footballists will, however, understand my dilemma.
I must say, however, that I'd have been gutted far more if the contest had been somewhere I was more attracted to, like Australia, Japan, anywhere in Europe or Canada. The lads will get home this weekend with their tales of mad heatwaves, insanely luxurious hotels and singing Hull City songs for a foreign crowd obsessed with taking photographs of western footballers. They'll have had great fun. They'll be unspeakably smug for the impending season that they did the China trip and the rest of us didn't. And yet I genuinely don't know whether I'm glad I didn't go or not. Tell me what I've missed!