I used to be a football fan. Back when I was in primary school, I picked up football as something I would follow diligently on the news. I remember I watched Maradona‘s infamous “hand of God” live, I remember I collected Marco van Basten‘s pictures from the newspapers, and I remember I was a big fan of Dutch national team (don’t ask why, I have no idea!).
But then I grew up.My father is a keen footballer and he still plays every week now, but he doesn’t watch the game on TV. My brother is more into basketball and other million things, so my home was pretty much clean from football virus. I went to all-girls school until I was 15, so no one talked about football rather than necessary, as one of the school subjects, as we had to learn about the rules of every game known to humankind. I grew up in peace, free from football.
Football only affected my life in a manner of local hooligans destroying everything on their way to the stadium to watch their favourite teams playing, or on their way back from watching the games. That was the time I had to learn to avoid the same route they took, or stayed in during the match. But rather than that, all I had to do was generously skipping the sport pages everyday to be occupied more important things in a girl’s life.
The universe somehow had been kind to me, as I never dated guys who are into football. That until I met mr.mck, who, being a true British, of course, is all about football. I didn’t know what I was getting into before it’s too late, before we moved to Scotland, where I pretty much had to face stories about football in daily basis.
There was no escape. Football dominates TV, the papers, everyday conversation, and naturally, constantly, our living room. It seems that there are tens different leagues every year that everyday there is always a match to watch and a game to follow. Just like mushrooms, when one league is almost finished, one is starting. My girlfriends are also into football (well, they’re Dutch), or have daughters who play football. The state of fixation of football in UK is so much that guys will easily go to watch the game rather than celebrating a Valentine’s day with their spouses – as I have had experienced it myself. As Bill Shankly rightly put, “some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s more serious than that”.
Even though I was so adamant that I don’t care about football, slowly and scarily, it creeps into my life and sticks in my poor brain, whether I like it or not. How could I not know who had won the cup if it’s the only thing people would talk about for the next 2 weeks? How could I not know who plays the match if the boys keep coming over to watch the game in our place? And even though I diligently skipped the sport pages from every newspapers, football is still in all over the gossip pages and ‘girly’ magazines. Before long I know the teams, the players, the managers, the owners, the commentators, and of course, the WAGs. I’ve gotten to know them better than my own neighbours! And although I could run away from the obligation of watching the football match live in the stadium, without mercy, mr.mck and his boyfriends would sit me down and watch the game on TV with them. All the time I tried to annoy them. For example, I would comment on everything but the game, mainly the level of cuteness of the players, their WAGs, and the teams’ uniforms (like asking who the designer of a team’s uniform as their socks’ colour don’t match with their tops). When the opportunity rose, I would sneak out and hide in the bedroom, and would only come out to show some moral support when I heard the boys screaming, or when it’s close to the end of the match. Or prettily sit down with them and pretend to watch the match while I was actually busy doing something else with my macbook. But along the way, I’ve spent more and more time paying attention to it. More than I want to.
I didn’t realise how much it has affected my mental state until one night, when Rocky and I were YM-ing each other. It was last September and on that beautiful Sunday afternoon, mr.mck and the boys were all glued to the telly, watching an important game (mind you, all games are important). It was probably after midnight in Indonesia, and Rocky was up watching the same game. Somehow, sadly, I could recite the players who were in both teams – at least most of them – and the stories about each of them. I actually spent the entire 90 minutes or so talking to Rocky about the game!
I’m not a football fan, for sure. But I’m not that ignorant anymore. I wouldn’t know whether it’s Premiere League or Champion League playing but at least I know the difference between those two (or so I guess). I’ve learned that UK doesn’t have a ‘national’ team (so I’d support England in the 2010 World Cup, just to annoy mr.mck). When Wayne Bridge refused to accept John Terry‘s handshake, I know exactly why, as I’ve read about Terry’s allegedly affair with Bridge’s ex girlfriend in the gossip tabloids before (as usual, British newspaper talked about the affair for months. Before and after the non-handshake). It’s not the sort of information I though I’d have, it’s just something I read along the way and just stuck. Just like Wayne and Coleen (the wedding, the baby, the sad TV show), or Cheryl and Ashley (the sex scandal, the sex scandal, and the sex scandal).
Rather than staring at the telly and not knowing what is going on, now I would recognize most of the faces in the match. All the cute and non-cute players, the sexy and non-sex managers, the club owner who always turns up with the same outfit, and the handsome commentator who always wears black suit.
The other day, Rocky sent me a picture of George Best through blackberry messenger. He said that Best was one of the best players in the world. For some strange reason I remember George Best, and I even remember his son, Calum Best, and sent his picture to Rocky in return. How the hell I know this information, and since when, I can’t tell. I just know.
Yes, now I know everything about football but the match itself.
I wish I don’t. Life was more simpler back then.