I love watching you sit, with bated breath, before the first match of the season. The hope, focus and optimism is something rarely applied to your own life, but for the benefit of your club and those eleven players on the pitch, your support is unrelenting, and so it should be.
Walking home on Tuesday night, I noticed a father and son, wrapped up and huddled in close outside M&S on this chilly October evening, chowing down on two baguettes bigger than the little boy’s face. This, to me, meant only one thing: Chelsea must be playing.
Although living this close to Stamford Bridge is a burden of busy burger joints on match days and growing accustomed to the bellowing of ticket touts, it’s not all bad. The buzz that surrounds the stampede trudging to the stadium in their heavy coats and chilly breaths brings back memories of watching my dad play and having to wait for my brother to finish training on a Monday where I’d sit patiently, watching Art Attack or playing with my Tamagotchi, of course.
People complain about the essence of football being lost to swanky stands and men in suits but, to me, there is still the guy who insists on drinking bovril, the hum of stale beer still resides and I continue to fight the desire to munch on one of those hot dogs that you shouldn’t even want to look at. The air is still full to the brim of chatter about scores, whether so and so will perform this season and a certainty that “this year will be our year”.
And it’s not all about going to watch every game. That Match of the Day theme tune reminds me of roast dinners gobbled in front of the TV for fear of missing that week’s goal highlights. It also reminds me of my deep rooted adoration of Gary Lineker which, somewhat inappropriately, began as a very young child and exists with great valour until this very day.
I have a dad and a brother who practically bleed blue, everyone I’ve ever dated has been into the game and so to have a boyfriend who hasn’t the slightest interest in it, worries me. Some of you are probably wondering why I wish for him to be a football fanatic, and yes, although it is wonderful for trips to Borough Market on a Saturday to not be completely replaced by Arsenal and Coco Pops, I want my kids to keep up this British pastime. I want them to wrap up, wear their colour with pride, sit alongside the toothless grins of seasoned football fans and cheer until their throats are roar, because there’s nothing quite like it.
Although it has to be said that footballers wages and our WAG culture infuriates me and the screeching that results from boys playing FIFA will ring through me until the end of time, I will say that it is worth it for the comradery, healthy competition and upkeep of a huge part of our British culture.
If you’ve never been to a game, try it out just once, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.