I can live without football. Hush! I do not need a weekly fix of 22 men in shorts kicking hell out of a ball. I try to make a point, though, of watching televised footie on Saturday nights because my husband looks forward to it so much. I fire up the laptop and sit checking my e mails, while he snorts and gasps and exclaims, and Messrs Lineker, Hansen, Lawrenson, Shearer et al dissect the finer points of each game. He doesn’t have a favourite team as such, so this is not the agony it might be with a certain other family of my acquaintance, whose rabid allegiance it is not wise to question.
I have detected some partisanship in my mate’s behaviours though. My more mundane tasks around the house have often been lightened by mentally categorising them. Here’s what I’ve constructed so far.
International: We don’t think a lot of the England team, but we want it to win if playing a foreign one.
National: Leagues: We’ll support any northern team that’s playing a southern team. If both teams are northern we’re truly impartial. If both teams are southern, ditto, unless there’s someone obnoxious managing one team, when we’ll hope the other wins. From that point of view, it used to be the highlight of the evening if Chelsea got stuffed and “mean, moody and magnificent” Mourinho had one of his tantrums. I miss him.
National: F A Cup competitions: We’d like to see any small lowly club beat any big one.
Thinking about all this has made me realise that I have other, smaller, fragmentations in my own support. Raised as an Everton fan, I really want to see the “Toffees” win a Merseyside Derby / Premiership / F A Cup, but I have to admit that one of the best things David Moyes did was to sell Rooney to Manchester United. My brother, who has a season ticket to Goodison Park, would never admit that any other club could offer any excitement, but Liverpool’s Gerrard sprinting through the midfield or taking a penalty does it for me just as much as EFC’s Johnson heading for goal or Man U’s Ronaldo dancing contemptuously with the ball round the opposing defence. Like I said, I’m impartial.
A few niggles. One is the group hug that seems mandatory after scoring a goal. It reminds me of my Dad’s school playground game, “Weak Horse” where boys all jumped on top of someone in the hope that he’d collapse. Why can’t they all celebrate with multiple handsprings? perhaps in formation? A second is the sight of fit male footballers (I excuse goalkeepers) wearing gloves, something we schoolgirls were never allowed to do when playing netball, even in freezing rain. Televised games can be too in-your-face: complete turnoffs for me are the managers’ inability to chew gum with their mouths shut, and the frequency with which players spit during a game.
The number one niggle, though, is the quantity of foreign players in the top English teams. At least Liverpool and Everton are captained by self-controlled, gloveless, proper Northern lads.
It’s Everton, though, that has the motto to end all mottoes: Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. Nothing is good enough unless it is the best.