7 Reasons to go to the Football Match
1. History. You get no sense of history watching a match on television. If you go to the Milton End at Fratton Park though, you can see an impressive recreation of the football experience in Victorian times. If it weren’t for the presence of “ladies” and the absence of flat-caps and rattles I would have believed I’d gone back in time. They even exhorted their team to “play up.” Nobody’s done that since colour was invented. I think I saw Dickens in the row behind me, sitting between a Muffin Man and an urchin.
2. Perspective. When you watch televised football, most of the footage is shot side-on from the main stand. This gives a good perspective on the game and gives you a tactical overview of events. You can get this at live football too, by sitting in the centre of one of the main stands. If you prefer excitement, however, nothing beats sitting behind the goal that your team is attacking. The spectacle of watching your strikers shooting at the space directly ahead of you is unsurpassable.*
*If your strike-force contains an Aliadiere or a Voronin you can replicate this experience by sitting near a corner-flag, the one furthest from the barn-door and the cows-arse.
3. Wit. There’s much wit and humour to be heard at live football. There are funny chants, heckles, pithy observations and bawdy asides. Wigan are considering signing Chilean defender Waldo Ponce in January. I may move to the North-West and buy a season ticket. It’s a name with enormous humour potential, the best since Celtic signed Rafael Scheidt.
4. Alan Green. Supercilious hectoring blabbermouth Alan Green might be at the match but don’t worry, it’s quite noisy there and you won’t be able to hear him. Also, he won’t be able to talk over everyone in the crowd whose opinion differs from his own, which is at least 97% of them – the ones with eyes in their heads and functioning brains.
5. Advise. You can’t help your team by watching the match at home. At the match you can, by shouting. If you’ve spotted something the players haven’t, or developed a new tactic that your manager hasn’t considered, you can let them know instantly. Who knows? You may even change the course of the match with your perceptive insights. Or you may not, like the man next to me three weeks ago who bellowed “Get the ball!” whenever his team weren’t in possession. He is presumably the man that warnings on coffee cups and rear-view-mirrors are for, I had wondered.
6. Pedestrians. Football matches are dangerous places for cars. Tannoy announcements often seem to consist of an endless stream of car-park calamity. “Can the owner of a silver Ford Focus (they’re all silver), registration number xxx xxxx please go to the car park as their car has its lights on/has its windows open/is parked in the way/is on fire/has rolled away/has the keys in the door/has been struck by the opposing team’s bus/is being vandalised/is playing Radio 2 at an immoderate volume. Militant pedestrians love hearing this litany of automotive adversity, it may be why they go.
7. Comedy. When you watch football on television, the cameras aren’t following the referee and often miss it when he does something funny, like falling over. I can’t think of anything that is funnier than a referee falling over, except for a referee falling over a dog…or a referee falling over a linesman…or a referee being chased by a rogue elephant…or a referee being satirised by Ian Hislop…or a referee slipping on a banana skin dropped by the fourth official…
There are many things funnier than the referee falling over. The ref falling over is still very funny though. If you go to the match, you may witness it.