WHEN I was growing up, there used to be two dinner sittings in our house. Before you start having a go about this being very la-di-da, the explanation for this is far from it.
My family was too big for all of us to sit around the table at the one time and as such, my sister and I (being the youngest) were required to shovel down our dinner before making way for the older members of the family to sit down to their meal. It is a bit like how Sky usually hype an awful 1:30 kick off before their 4 o’clock main event on their all too frequent super Sundays.
But I digress, my memories of this is that when I was finished my dinner I would then sit down and watch whatever soccer match my older bothers and my Dad had been watching. It was my duty to run into the kitchen to notify them of any goal or penalty. At which point the male members of my family would rush in to see what had happened. My poor mother must have really felt that her cooking was greatly appreciated.
I think an awful lot of football fans pick up their football allegiance from family members and thus I became a Man United fan. I was 17 before I actually saw Man United play in the flesh when I travelled over with my Dad and one of my brothers. It was a fabulous experience as we saw United beat Middlesbrough one-nil courtesy of a last minute goal from Beckham. Earlier in the game Middlesbrough had been awarded a penalty which prompted the current rent-a-quote Roy Keane to chase after the referee and have to be physically restrained by his team mates.
But the most memorable thing about that game for me was the fat United fan sat in front of us who spent the whole game roaring “Give it to Denis!” Eventually his two very young daughters pleaded with him to sit down and keep his opinions to himself. Irwin never did get the ball as much as Chubbs would have liked but what he really thought the full-back would have done with it remains a mystery.
This article is rambling a wee bit but the point is that football has always been there in the background. There really is no escaping it. I probably spend an hour a day reading about it and listening to podcasts on the Guardian website (cough cough which I have noticed that this website has taken to lifting every single article from ..cough cough). And that is just midweek. At weekends I easily watch three, four or even five matches. There was a while a few years ago when I used to watch the Premiership and then later on end up watching Match of the Day. I think I would be shocked if I was to add up all the time I spent watching, reading about, listening to or playing soccer. But the point is that I simply love soccer. I sometimes wonder about people who are not into it and wonder what they do with all of their spare time. No doubt they lead successful lives as doctors, lawyers and surgeons. They possibly even have girlfriends. Their loss!
Tune in next week for a list of the peripheral things that I really love about football. I had planned to write about that this week but decided against it for fear that I would be typecast as simply a list writer. You only have to look at the astronaut in the Toy Story trilogy – I have yet to see him in any other film since.