7 December 2007
I travel the country watching my football team play and I can't bear the thought of not going. I watch plenty on TV too. But there are things about football I cannot bear, and here are ten of them:-
1 - Music after goals. It's always Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag, Tom Hark or Hey Baby. Tom Hark is a particularly gruesome choice, as when I play the full song at my 80s night, Stockport County fans come up and tell me they never knew it had words as they'd only ever heard the first 20 seconds. Music after goals is wrong on so many levels; my club, mercifully, remains in possession of a soul.
2 - Shameless rip-offs. Not tickets nor replica shirts et al, but matchday stuff like programmes (four quid or so for something which is 80 per cent adverts) and particularly food and drink. At Crystal Palace's ground this season I paid almost a fiver for one bottle of lukewarm lager. A fiver! What establishment does Simon Jordan think he owns - Stringfellows? I'm so glad we scored a 93rd minute equaliser that day.
3 - Fixture arrangements. We have to go to Norwich and Cardiff on Tuesday nights this season. This will rule out attendance by families and anyone who works what you call "regular" hours, unless their boss is at the top end of the understanding scale. Our midweek games should be the local ones, or at the very least, games based in the north. Norwich is fine as the crow flies but there isn't a motorway in sight and it is the hardest place to get to if you don't actually live in East Anglia - and we've been given midweek fixtures there for each of the last three seasons.
4 - Witless supporters. "Get that white shirt off, ref!" shouted one absolute div behind me after the official gave a mildly dubious decision in favour of our white-kitted opponents on Tuesday night. I suspect he's polishing off his collection of insults about the ref's eyesight and parentage ready for the weekend as you read this.
5 - Supporters who only whinge. I've hosted many a football phone-in, and the lines are red hot after a bad defeat with knee-jerk, clueless fools wanting a clearout of players or the sacking of managers, but a team that plays well and wins and has a rosy garden generally gets next to nothing by comparison. I once opened the lines after a 4-0 home win and nobody rang up.
6 - Blinkered choice of live FA Cup matches. The third round draw has just been made and while it wasn't especially inspiring, Match Of The Day has chosen nonetheless to screen the Manchester United v Aston Villa match, passing up the chance to give the odd smaller club a bit of precious BBC exposure and instead pander to the sides we watch on our tellies all the time.
7 - Assistant managers talking to the telly. If a manager refuses to speak to a particular media organisation due to some dispute or other, then the organisation in question should just refuse to offer any airtime for any underling's version of events. Especially uninspiring is Nigel Pearson, a bland, miserable, cliche-spouting lackey to Sam Allardyce at Newcastle, who is still refusing to talk to the BBC.
8 - Greedy councils. All of the laybys and verges et al which were always good for parking if you couldn't get into the designated stadium car park have been added to our local council's "restricted areas" list, and as a consequence I've paid two parking fines this season for using bits of land which were perfectly fine for the last five years. Nobody's space is stolen, nobody is blocked in, and traffic is not prevented from moving. It's just basic greed. No more.
9 - Fans who comment on games and performances they haven't seen. Self-explanatory, really. This happens on the radio a lot ("Hi Alan, I didn't go to the game but....") and during matches on online forums ("sounds like the captain's playing crap again, they should drop him...") and yet somehow these people think their opinions are as valid as those who attended or, better still, the manager of the team.
10 - Timewasting. I've saved the worst until last, and I hate my own team doing it as much as the opposition. What sort of negative, anti-football set-up encourages players to kick the ball away when conceding free kicks, take forever to pick the ball up for a throw-in or - worst of all - "miscontrol" the ball when an opponent gives it to them for such a set-piece? What's worse is that this happens a lot in the first half of matches after the timewasting team has taken the lead; as if shaving off ten seconds in the 20th minute will make a difference an hour later. Referees always claim to add on appropriate minutage at the end to allow for such antics, but by then teams are playing a more frantic, less organised game and the later it gets the less chance there is of getting that required equaliser or winner. Effective it may be, but it's unsporting, ungentlemanly and sick-making.
I like football otherwise.