On football

The nights are getting shorter and the sunshiney walk home from work can be a pleasant thing. Mine takes me through Kelvingrove Park: a walk marred only by increasingly numerous games of football. Oftentimes the football pitch is occupied by a disorganized kick-about between uneven teams of young children (“What’s the score? 45-11!”) but more frequently it is a proper game between adult players. They have a referee and linesmen and everything.

My worry is that their ball will come hurtling in my direction at a speed only possible when propelled from the leather-clad foot of an adult Glaswegian male. The goals do not have nets attached to them so in the event of a goal being scored when I’m walking past, I could become more than a fleeting spectator. In the event of a ball coming in my direction I can foresee only four possible outcomes:

(a) One of the players will shout “Kick the ball back, mate?”. I will attempt to kick the ball back to him only to have my shoe fly off and enter a low Earth orbit. There will be much amusement.

(b) One of the players will shout “Kick the ball back, mate?”. I will attempt to do so only to have the ball fly off in the opposite direction and into a passing grandma.

(c) One of the players will shout “Kick the ball back, mate?” and I will run away emu-like out of the fear of Situations (a) or (b). Whenever I run, it can only be described as emu-like.

(d) The ball will hit my already twice-fractured arm and it will be in plaster for a further two months.

I just can’t bring myself to like football. The very sound of a boot hitting a leather ball is aggressive and I wince when I hear it. I’d love to think of a professional football match as something other than the goading of a thousand yobs.

I’d love to be able to engage with my working class roots (honest, gov’) by embracing the beautiful game. But whenever I contemplate it, I feel a nausea like no other. Professional football just seems like another commercial instrument in the oppression of working class people: have you seen how much a season ticket costs lately?

It would also make me feel less awkward around a large section of the population: being able to say “Looks like Celtic are through to the finals” should more than compensate for my poofter hairstyle. So I’ve been meaning for a long while to attend a Partick Thistle football match – surely the most working class and least commercially driven (or just less commercially successful?) footballing event Glasgow has to offer. I am still committed to doing this (I’ve just not found the time or courage or a tough-looking escort yet) and I’ll assuredly write about the experience in these electronic pages when I do so.

Football is bizarre. Why does it get a special section on the news? I’m sure lots of people like football but there’s no ‘shopping’ section or ‘arts’ section. I also like it when you try to talk about something non-footy during a football-based situation: they hate it! If you liken a player or an event to something from a movie or a novel or real life it just confuses and infuriates.

Something that makes me feel a bit better about footy is this:

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