Uncharted Territory – In Defence of Football

And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain.

Not sure Frank ever envisaged his famous words would be the opening gambit of a football blog on Wolverhampton Wanderers in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, but there is a first time for everything and a number of firsts are being explored currently.

Most pertinently for this blog, this is the first time any one of us will experience a prolonged, enforced period without the sport of football in our lifetimes. It will take some getting used to. The novelty of Twitter Noughts’n’Crosses and Connect Four has already worn off and list upon list of content is being drawn up in order for us to get out ‘football fix’. The parlance is of course in the context of addiction, but can we really speak of it in such terms, given the negative connotations of addiction and it’s most prevalent mediums?

Well, yes, of course it can. I am under no illusions that I and millions of others across the globe are obsessed with football. I have no recollection of the first game I attended, such was the age at which I was thrust into this sporting world. I’m either playing or watching football every single day of the week – simply because it’s possible. Football is the most 24/7 of all 24/7 industries and the ‘too much football’ argument is a longstanding one. For the record, it is of course absolutely the right thing to do to stop football in such times, especially given the fact it is the largest movement of people around the country on a weekly basis.

But this in turn tells us something about the psyche around football across the nation – it’s necessary. We don’t all just traipse around the UK, sit ourselves in unhealthy amounts of traffic, insist on early mornings and late nights during our evenings and weekends for something that doesn’t enhance our lives. It clearly isn’t THE important thing right now – but it sure is AN important thing.

A lot of the commentary around football at the moment appears to be people scoffing at the sport’s sense of self-importance – the same sport that ultimately gives those people a livelihood which they have no doubt dreamed of. Not all of us are afforded this luxury due to circumstance, opportunity and often simply comprehension. So how do we play out these fantasies instead? In every other way we possibly can. Whether it be a knockaround in the park – or at Goals/Powerleague as it no doubt is these days – a Sunday League dogfight or simply cheering on your favourite club from the stands/sofa,

Where else in life do you celebrate something with such joyous abandon? The birth of your children? I’m not talking from experience here, but I’d imagine you’re as likely to burst into tears as wear a wide-eyed grin. GCSE/A Level Results day? Let’s make those a weekly escapade, shall we? Nope, didn’t think so. How about winning the lottery? Yes, I can see myself possibly jumping for joy and embracing the nearest stranger if I was told that I was winning the lottery.  I guess essentially I’m trying to make the point that football brings you feelings and emotions that are quite simply incomparable. The kind of feelings that remind people of the joy of simply existing.

It’s an entirely trivial affair of course. Wolves 0-0 Brighton should have told you that. But in a world where so much of what is going on around us is tainted, agenda-led and corrupted in so many ways. Who is to say that the very conditions we have imposed on us right now aren’t the result of Pinky and the Brain finally coming up with a successful plan for world domination?

There’s a beauty and a purity to simply watching a bunch of blokes trying to kick a ball into the back of the net that takes us away from the stresses of every day life. It’s an obsession, but it’s not an unhealthy one. For those of us who will be more idle than most in this crisis situation, unable to work, unable to earn and unable get on with getting on, football can be the ray of light they need to just escape.

So yes, of course, we will have to do make do with football for what feels like an indefinite amount of time. But as Jorge Valdano once said: “The bacillus of efficiency has also attacked football, and some dare to ask what’s the point in playing well. I feel tempted to tell about the time they dared to ask Borges what is poetry for, to which he answered: “What is a sunrise for? What are caresses for? What is the smell of coffee for?” Each question sounded like a sentence: they are for pleasure, for emotion, for living.”

So to any further scoffing at the discussion around football and it’s return and the importance with which it is being held – just remember how you’re making a living and the kind of living you’re making. It’ll be a whole lot worse for the next few months without it.


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