By COLLEN LESOLE
Where and how to start? By a frank admission that yours truly has lost some fire in his belly? Or that maybe mid-life crisis has set in early for him? Or perchance he needs some awakening? But from what? Maybe question whether a thing of beauty is a joy forever? Peter pan: remember him? The boy who doesn’t grow old?
I am no sailor, nor do I take enough wine to claim to be a storyteller but I’m afraid I have to regale you with one of my stories. This one is short. Growing up I loved the beautiful game. Very few things compared to the experience of sitting in front of the television and watching football.
Looking back, the greatest joy was because I looked at the game innocently and purely for the joy of it. Now, older, and presumably wiser (though I am sceptical about this) that joy has gone out. Dead. Extinguished. And for that I blame growing up. Adulthood too. I also bear time a grudge.
When one grows older and encounters several experience and gains more knowledge and information, he becomes calculating, hesitant, and a less joyful than in the earlier days. The best memories of our lives are those created in our childhood and time eats away at those. So this villain- time, has left me dangerously close to bitter Do you know why? Do you?
Simple really. I dislike, no, I hate watching football with some company around me nowadays. And I hope my friends don’t come across this. It is a painful experience being in front of the television or going to the stadium to watch a football match in large part because people just cannot keep quiet during a game.
Can’t you watch the game without the ratchet? Or harping on about how the teams have lined up the entire game? Or worse watching the game and tweeting at the same time? How do you do that? Just how does a football fan snapchat the missus while watching the game and then proceed to do a post-game analysis? And I thought that one cannot equally serve masters at a time!
As a football fan, the most stressful time of the year is when the transfer window opens. Or shuts. January and August- wretched times those with our high blood pressure on stratospheric levels. One wakes up in the morning to rumours of a pending signing and two weeks later the rumour is still a rumour and then it becomes a whisper and then a deafening silence.
You wait and watch and wait for some more and then finally give up. But why? How football fans have been drawn into this self-harm is almost incomprehensible because at that point in time before the transfer window shuts the relationship is Ike Turner- Tina Turneresque: toxic. In my younger years I cared less who came in or went out of the clubs I supported. All I ever wanted was to watch my team. I knew little about player and club loyalty, the need for clubs to buy and sell and club ownership models. Hell I didn’t even know that the coach or manager was not the boss; that there were bosses behind the “boss”. It didn’t cross my mind that a top footballer’s price for making it to the top was a scantily clad, sometimes anorexic model (not always blonde). One wanted to watch, play and possibly make it to the top because he loved the game. Pure and unadulterated love for football.
And now I have gown older and still growing and the more I get to know about the beautiful game, the less I revel in it. Being a columnist, I come across people that usually want to show off their knowledge about football: tactics, line-ups, probable and possible signings and predicting how the league team will look at the end of the season.
No matter how much I have come to acknowledge that some conversations are genuine, one also notes that some are just a “Who is the better man contest?” Generally boys being boys trying to gauge their testosterone levels and attract girls. And when that happens I become a Jon Snow, take my Valeryian steel and ward off such wildlings. Now such isn’t pretty even though I am equally guilty.
By the time the game is already on and close to finishing none of us would have enjoyed the game but the sound of our voices. You see, everybody is an expert nowadays, they just don’t watch the game to enjoy it. And now we have relegated ourselves to a smaller and base purpose of going to the stadiums or watching the game with the intent to bash, criticise and generally moan and that in larger part is the reason why local fans usually fail to create a proper football atmosphere at stadiums. Instead of enjoying the game, we suffer through it.
Now you see why I put the blame on growing up. It is an entirely different experience with kids because when you are with them watch how the young ones are so absorbed in the game. It eats them whole: hair, nail, body and spirit and their joy is palpable. On the other hand, the old heads paint a different picture.
First they want to know why Joel Mogorosi is playing and not whoever they want. And then, with their team on an unbeaten run, they lay in on the coach; questioning his tactical acumen and crediting the team’s good run on some fortune. We never did that when we were young did we?
We rarely grumbled. Cared little about formations or how much so and so cost and wait for the transfer window or who owned what stake in our clubs. I am far from dismissing the importance of such matters but in my experience I have found such knowledge to have somewhat gained precedence over the real product and diluted my passion for the game and now I find myself cursing have to grow up and grow older.
Would I be Peter Pan, forever a boy and innocently immerse myself in the beautiful game! Oh, how wonderful that would be because at present I find watching football as just another experience I have to go through to pass time. A charade perhaps. Just another chore. And I hate chores except eating and charging my phone off course. I long to be young again; to enjoy the beautiful game without the cumbersome responsibility that comes with adulthood. To be happy. To be free.
Dear kids; don’t grow up, it’s a trap.