Monday, 11 June 2012

I’m Not a Football Fan Get Me Out of Here

This weekend saw the start of the Footbally Eurovision World Cup Thingy (see I can talk expertly on subjects I don’t know about), as Europe gets very excited to see who will win Football trophies when they exclude all the good South American teams who would win them otherwise.
Previously on this blog I have talked at great length about how I don’t hate Football, but generally find it easier to say you do to get out of arguments:

Anyway with England’s first game tonight, against France (see I know stuff), you may find that you are forced to watch the game against your will, even if you are supposed to be working. For some reason you’re allowed time off work to watch England play, but not to watch Cash in the Attic – it hardly seems fair. If you do find yourself in this football watching predicament, here’s some my top survival guide to how to get through the game:

1)      Don’t at any point say “It’s Only a Game” – yes, of course it is only a game. But the average football watcher won’t take kindly to you pointing out the one thing they’ve been looking forward to for the last two years, in their otherwise tedious life, is only a game. It’s shattering the illusion, like telling small children the tooth fairy isn’t real (though arguably less important).

2)      If possible avoid watching in a pub. Traditionally football fans prefer the pub environment for games, despite the fact that at home or in the office, you can usually have a chair, drink and actually be able to see the screen. Still the fans will attempt to take you to a pub, where you are only allowed to order drinks during half-time and there’s enough testosterone in the room that it’s a miracle people aren’t asphyxiated.
3)      Spend time enjoying seeing your normal friends behave oddly. Perfectly rational people you know, become perfectly irrational watching football at the best of times. When England play all bets are off. People you’ve known for years will start screaming, swearing and generally behaving madly towards people they’ve never ever met on the screen. During last World Cup I heard a perfectly a normal neighbour of mine shout “Lampard, you c**t!” at the screen before apologising to his wife and kids, by saying “Sorry, but he is a c**t!”. As an added bonus here, you can enjoying the irony of seeing out of shape, un-athletic friends who probably would have heart failure kicking a ball, shout at people in far better health than they are at how bad they are at football. I always laugh, though remember Rule 1, laugh internally!
4)      Organise a sweepstake. You might not care about football in the slightest, or about who wins the European Championship. But join an office sweepstake and find yourself swept up in the excitement of all simply because of the promise of being able to win cash. I can find myself cheering for even the most obscure of European nations for the promise of thirty-two quid should I win. Discretion on when to cheer on, may be required if your team is playing England – though you will find it hard to not radiate a glow of smugness should your team knock England out.

5)      A good trick if you’re fed up of people moaning that you know nothing about football is to memorise a few key facts from a newspaper pull-out. With luck someone will ask you your opinion in an attempt to mock you, and you can reply with the correct answer and wipe that smug look of their face. I’ll never forget the time I picked up the cliché “The Spanish team never perform as well as they should on paper”, which I regurgitated when asked on this particular team’s success. Until this point I believed the phrase “jaw-dropping” was metaphorical. It isn’t!

6)      Why not set yourself your own spotting challenge to see how many companies have inappropriately and sometimes appalling crudely high-jacked the nation’s support of England in a desperate bid to flog more of their unrelated products. This year, this has become a bit harder as the Olympics has stolen the thunder of the European Championship. Although this does add the bonus game of seeing how cunningly some products who haven’t paid the Olympics for sponsorship have cleverly embodied the spirit of the Olympics without using the word Olympics. And now I’ve mentioned “OIympics” three times in one sentence Sebastian Coe will be coming round my house to smash in my kneecaps.
7)      If all the above tips don’t save you, you can always team up with a similarly unimpressed friend and spend the entire game discussing the most banal of vaguely related football things. If you are going to be made to watch the football against your will, then get your own back, by discussing which team has the nicest socks, which player you think most needs a hug, and which team the person in black is playing for. If you want to go for extra bonus annoying points, start asking football watchers what the rules are, or confound them by trying to get them to explain to you the offside rule in five thousand words or less.

8)      Despite all evidence to the contrary England fans will convince themselves that this is England’s year, this year England will sweep to victory and “football will come home”. It won’t, but this won’t stop England’s fans. I realise optimism to me is a stranger, but this is taking optimism to a whole new cultish level. The fans will charge in regardless, like a hedgehog convinced it can stop that thirty-tonne approaching juggernaut. And when England inevitably crash out, our England fans will be just as crushed as our metaphorical hedgehog. At this point you should avoid all attempts to reason with them, there will be more tears than at an onion chopping convention, England shirts will be burnt in the street, and the St George’s Cross bunting and flags will suddenly feel about as appropriate as a Gary Glitter poster in Mothercare. Best thing you can do here is hide. Statements such as “Don’t worry there’s always the World Cup in 2014” will simply earn you a punch.

9)      And if none of these things work, escape while you can. As long as you don’t want to go to a pub you’ll be surprised how deserted the streets are during an England game. You can get so much done without the tedium of others, shopping, commuting, getting your haircut – there won’t even be a queue at the Post Office!
Hopefully this guide will prove of some use, and if not don’t worry it will all be over within a fortnight. And very decently England will almost certainly have finished at least a week before this deadline!

Oh and of course good luck for tonight England!