I do not buy the lie that football is a “results business”.
Football is an entertainment business. Football is a passion business. Football is an excitement business. Football is a 30000 people giving their heart and soul to will on 11 heroes for 90 minutes business. Football is a hopes and dreams business.
I didn’t fall in love with football because we were near the top of the league. I can’t ever recall looking at a league table when I was a kid. Nowadays I often look back for stats research or when I’m typing an attempt of an article, but back then? That’s not what attracted me to follow my team, and if that so happens to be a major deciding factor in your decision to support your team, well, “glory fan” is a term that springs to mind, amongst others, and this little thought will probably be wasted on you.
I fell in love at a place called St James’ Park. I fell for players like Peter Beardsley who I, unfortunately, did not see the best of, but the way people talked about him you could tell he was special and every time he got the ball you would wonder if magic was about to be presented to the masses. I fell for players like David Ginola with all the french flair and beautiful hair and that goal against Ferencvaros plucked out of thin air. Poetry. I fell for players like Les Ferdinand who is still possibly the best header of the ball the premiership has ever seen, despite being a relative midget compared to modern forwards. I could swear he was part salmon. A superhero. The stuff comic books are made of. The stuff kids dream about.
More than that though, I fell in love with football. Simply that. Football. Football is called the beautiful game, not the beautiful result, and it was beautiful. It made me happy to see my team playing well. Yes it’s nice nowadays to look at the table and see us sitting near the top, and a source of pride no doubt, but I don’t get excited sitting with it in front of me for 90mins (with a 15min bovril break in the middle) wondering what the table is going to do to excite me today, or what magic I will be witness to that I can talk about with people on Monday. I don’t get together with mates who share my passion for looking at tables and talk about them for a whole night. And I certainly wouldn’t use a table to determine how good the team is playing, I’ll use my eyes for that…. and maybe my adrenaline levels during a match. Getting beaten 3-4 by Liverpool will live longer in the memory than 3 points against Blackburn with 1 shot on target.
Now, I don’t want this to come across as having a go, or being negative, the team are doing well in the league yes, but I do want more. I want more halves of football like the first against Man Utd at home, not just because we dominated the champions, but because it was good to watch. I want more halves like the first against Fulham or Wolves or Stoke too. This little thought is inspired by the hope that there is more to come from this team. They have shown that they are clearly capable of producing football to love, so where is it?
Where is our football?’