Saturday, April 04, 2009

Passion, noise and excitement?

Every Saturday i have my own column in English newspaper, The Argus. here is today's:
I gave my Australian girlfriend her first taste of English football last week. Being an integral part of the super trendy Sydney fashion scene, she is far more interested in high-waisted trousers and vintage dresses than watching 22 men with Toni & Guy haircuts chase a piece of leather around some grass, but, knowing what a big part of my life football is, she was happy to come and see what gets me so happy/angry/frustrated/depressed on a Saturday. Bearing in mind the only other sporting occasion she has ever attended was an Aussie Rules game played at Melbourne’s world-famous MCG in front of about 90,000 fervent fans, I had to try to choose a match that would equal that occasion for atmosphere and thrills. So, with that in mind, the most obvious thing to do would have been to take her to England’s important World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Wednesday night. I didn’t do that though. Oh no. I decided to give her her first sample of English football in a place that is perhaps least representative of its passion, noise and excitement. That’s right, we went to Withdean to watch a goalless draw between Brighton & Hove Albion and Tranmere Rovers.

We sat in the north stand and I did my best to explain what was happening on the pitch (“The Brighton player is kicking the ball to another Brighton player… oh, he’s kicked it straight at the Tranmere player.”). She seemed to take it all in, although, as Brighton's Dean Cox almost scored a cracking volley, I noticed her absently reading the list of ingredients on the back of her drink bottle. Later, as Tranmere fired in a corner, she was instead focusing on pulling a loose thread from her jumper. I’m sure we can all sympathise with the fact that her attention wandered at regular intervals and, for the most part, she actually rather enjoyed the game, even though she didn‘t get to see any goals. While she may not have sampled English football in its most indicative environment (like at a ground where the stands aren‘t a million miles from the pitch), she did at least get the full Withdean experience in just one afternoon. She got to see how the warmth of the sun can create a typically lethargic atmosphere, and how the inevitable rain causes everyone to reach for their ponchos. She saw fairly poor football punctuated by some decent moments, heard an equal amount of wit, moaning and expletives from fans, and got to join in with the occasional chant of ‘Albion’. Oh, and at least Brighton didn’t lose. I suppose, actually, in that respect, it wasn’t quite the full Withdean experience after all.


Anonymous said...

hah! that was a good read Bob. Good on Emma for going, next time promise her Giggsy will parade around shirtless

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