Monday, 20 June 2016
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Danny hated football. It did his head in. He just found it so, so boring. He could admire it. He appreciated the skills on display, but so often those skills were too few and far between and the rest was just dross. The teams were too similar, there was enough invention so they cancelled each other out and boredom ensued. What was it that people saw in it? What made them so excited? What was Danny missing? Maybe it was an emperor’s new clothes scenario. Maybe it just needed one person to say it’s rubbish, and the whole edifice would come crumbling down. But Danny wasn’t brave enough to take that risk.
It wasn’t only the game he hated. He hated all the things that went on around it. The behaviour of the players for one. They wagged their fingers and tongues at referees and waved imaginary cards. They rolled around on the ground in agony one minute and then ran around like baby hares the next. It was just cheating. It made his blood boil. Then the behaviour of the fans, the constant whistling and booing at games, and the violence and intimidation outside the stadium.
To make matters worse it was omnipresent. From August to May it was wall to wall football and then, just when he thought it was over and he could have some time off, there was the bloody European Championships. A whole month of bloody football. Everywhere he looked, TV, Radio, internet, newspapers, there was football. Everywhere he went people were talking about it, voicing their crazy opinions about who should start upfront or why so and so was replaced.
In work it was worse. God, his colleagues banged on about it all the time, discussing the minutiae of set plays and the intricacies of tika-taka. Every time he tried to change the subject, to talk about food, or architecture, or travel, they managed to get the conversation back to soccer. He had to admire their skill, they were like those people who could come up with a song for every subject you were talking about, and just as annoying as them too. But because he wasn’t brave enough and tell the world it was shit, people assumed he enjoyed it. After all, he too could talk a good game.
On his last day off he’d tried to get as far away from it as possible. Driving out into the countryside alone, finding a nice little village to have lunch in. But even there the shops had posters up, the café was showing a game and a waiter asked him for a score prediction.
It was really beginning to get him down. He felt like the football world was closing in on him. There was no escape. People must have noticed it was affecting him. If he could see the sadness in his own eyes, hear the frustration in his own voice, then they must be aware of it too but there was nothing he could do. He tried to smile when people brought it up. He tried to put some enthusiasm in his voice as he discussed how to deliver the perfect cross, but it was no use the frown remained glued to his forehead.
Danny looked down at the grass in front of him and up at the beautiful French sunset. For a split second he lost himself in the contrails that criss-crossed the sky and imagined himself flying far far away on one of those planes. But the moment was too brief. The roar of anticipation brought his attention back to pitch level. He watched as the number nine rose high and headed the ball past the keeper. He raised his microphone to his mouth, he had about twelve seconds before his co-commentator would throw over to him.
“Yes Guy, I agree. A brilliant goal and it had been coming.” He said, sounding more bored than ever.