Panenka

January 22nd 2017

Today I got all emotional over a football match. We went to Alice’s parents’ for lunch, and whilst they all watched a documentary about The Beatles I sat in the corner and watched the football with my headphones in.

I like to think of myself as this pretentious, creative type, but in reality I’m just a football fan. I’d rather watch 22 blokes kick a ball around for 90 minutes than watch a Beatles documentary, which I think basically disallows me from calling myself a pretentious creative type.

I think the two are mutually exclusive.

In my mind I’d love to be the type of guy that walks around quoting lyrics from The Smiths and reading Nietzsche, but I don’t have time because being a football fan is a full-time hobby. It’s not just two games a week, it’s constantly thinking about the team and discussing the team in the days between the days when there is a game.

And in a way, I know that it’s kinda pathetic, because as much as it annoys me when Alice says “it’s only a game”, she’s got a point. It’s just football.

In today’s match I freaked out because the team that I support scored more goals than the team that they were playing – and they did it in dramatic circumstances. At the beginning of 7 minutes of added time at the end of the game, my team were winning, but they had one fewer man on the pitch due to a red card, so the game was tense. And then my team conceded an equaliser, and I threw my head back in frustration – making Alice jump. I was immediately depressed, because that’s what football does to you.

Two minutes later, my team got a penalty and with it came a chance to win the game.

I couldn’t watch.

I passed my phone to Alice and asked her to watch for me. She cheered. And, I still had the headphones in so I heard the crowd cheer. We won.

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I jumped up and pounded the air in celebration with a rapid-fire fist pump.

“It’s only a game,” chorused the entire room.

Except it’s not. It has this unique way of playing with my emotions. I showed more emotion in that brief five minute period of football than I do for basically any other facet of my life.

And I don’t get it. It’s unfathomable. It’s a bunch of blokes kicking leather around a finely pruned patch of grass. But it has the ability to make or break my day, and on this occasion it made it.

After the winning goal went in I was giddy for half an hour. I smiled and laughed just thinking about the circumstances of the result.

If I could channel half of that emotion into something important then I’d end up with something brilliant.

In many ways, being a football fan stops me from spending my time doing positive, productive things. I could’ve fuelled that emotion from today and gone home and started to write, or create something. But all I wanted to do was go home and watch the highlights of the match straight away, or go home and discuss the match with strangers on the internet, just to revel in the moment for a little bit longer.

And that’s what football does to you. It’s not just an Alexis Sanchez panenka’d penalty in the 97th minute. It’s not just Arsenal 2, Burnley 1…

Until tomorrow, in the words of Bill Shankly, “Football is not just a matter of life and death: it’s much more important than that”

Jacn

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