TONIGHT Matthew I am going to be writing about football. Chances are that if you are one of the five people who will read this piece (and yes I am bitter considering I am spending my Friday night writing this when I could be drinking tea and swooning over the Take That lads on The Late Late with Kilkenny hurler Brian Hogan-look-a-like Ryan Tubridy), then you love football too. My own girlfriend won’t even read it – subtle way of slipping in that I have a girlfriend!
Having had a bit of a rant about the things that annoy me concerning football, I would like to look at the stuff I love about it. I am talking about the really small things that non-soccer fans could not care less about. You know the type of fella I am talking about- your local GAA player in his check shirt, wrangler jeans, belt and sensible shoes combo who always says when someone misses a penalty; “Sixty grand a week and he misses from 12 yards. Sure I could have scored that”. That is every bit as annoying as Ray Houghton saying when someone misses a chance “He’ll be disappointed with that.” Brilliant analysis Ray, keep it coming- each nugget of wisdom justifies the telly licence. So here they are- ten deadly things about football. Coming at ya like Cleopatra!
- Hitting the crossbar: You know when you are playing 5-a-side with your friends or just having a kick about, isn’t one of the most satisfying things when you hit a “perfect” shot that hits the bar? It is like you are saying “Ah, I could have scored if I wanted.”
- The football episode of Fr. Ted with the over 75s soccer match. It is a brilliant episode but the best bit is definitely when Ted and Dougal are talking about Jack’s merits as a player.
Dougal: “Did you tell me once, Jack had a trial with Liverpool?”
Ted: “No, ah… he was on trial in Liverpool.”
- The Nike and Adidas ads in the build-up to tournaments. I love when there is a theme running through it and they drip-feed more and more related ads as the competition comes closer. My personal favourite is probably the 2000 one with Van Gaal leading a team of players to steal back a football. I can remember myself and my neighbour Gersey spending hours trying to learn the piece of skill that Edgar Davids pulls off at the end. Why the Pepsi ads are always awful is because they get a load of players together but then never actually have any skill in the ads – what a bloody waste. They all just stand around drinking Pepsi and looking like muppets. Oh and by the way myself and Gersey nailed the bit of skill.
- Nutmegging one of your friends.
- Funny pieces of obscure information about players- how Carragher won’t carry a wallet. The Crouchey having his nachos story. Roy and his walks with Triggs. Wayne Rooney and his work with the elderly- ah you can’t say that.
- The Italia 90 songs: Ideally the first song played at every wedding would be either The Flame or Put ‘em Under Pressure.
- When a player does a bit of skill while going to get the ball for a throw in. I love when they do the mad little flicks. If I am going to a match I try to get in early to see the warm-up and the players are just showing all the touches that they probably would not dare use in the match. Please understand that I am talking about when I go to see one of the outstanding teams. Not when I am going to watch Ireland where I try to time it as such that I am at my seat for the anthems rather than seeing McShambles doing whatever it is he actually does. Friends of mine were at an Ireland match years ago and were in early and were giving Babb awful abuse during the warm-up for no reason but presumed he could not hear. A few minutes later one of them roared “Phil, Phil give us a wave” which he duly did so he could clearly hear the other comments they had previously made. Last bit on this point – you know at the back of Four Four Two where they get former players to pick the best 11 they played with? I can remember Gary Lineker saying that he was playing in a charity match before when Maradona was involved. During the warm-up, he said that all of the best players from all over the world were standing around just watching Maradona kicking the ball about 20 or 30 yards in the air and volleying it straight back up when it came down.
- The World Cup montages. The best one I can think of was probably the RTE one for Japorea ’02 with the Feeder song. Say that to any fella over 25 and chances are they will quote the Jim Beglin bit, “It looks like the big toe area.” I remember being at a festival a few years ago and Feeder played the song at the end of their set and everyone just went nuts.
- Molly’s Nigeria jersey. Football peaked on my street during France ’98 and it took over our summer as we were yet to discover girls, or more likely the girls had discovered us and had sadly also discovered that we were not what they were looking for. Anyway one of the lads got the Nigeria jersey during that tournament and I am pretty sure he wore it everyday he played soccer for the next two years. Before or since, I have never seen anyone else wearing a Nigeria jersey casually. How does a lad from Kilkenny go into a sports shop full of soccer shirts and end up buying the Nigeria one? Speaking of jerseys I once saw a Man United fan in a pub at home with G. Neville on the back of his replica shirt. I presume his friends did it to his jersey for the laugh.
- Zinedine Zidane: the best player I have ever seen. The bit of a rogue in him only makes him more likeable in my eyes. There is brilliant footage on youtube of him during the 98 world cup in the dressing room after getting sent off in the Saudi Arabia group game. Click here and go to about 2:25.