Friday, 9 September 2011

Feeling that way, again.

I'm gone. Not massively, but definitely a bit. More than a bit. The feeling is fascinating. I remember describing it a long time ago as “when you feel that way.” And, mostly, it still holds true. Everything is a little bit more. You see something sad, and it breaks your heart. You see something happy, and it breaks your heart.

There's a girl. The one you probably can't get, who condemns the ones you can get to oblivion. They become a filter through which everything else passes. And the male obsession kicks in: something, I've learned, I've got pretty bad. The pain, in a very small way, is delicious. It's delicious while there's still hope.... the excitement of what could happen. But probably won't. But imagine if it did. And the wisdom garnered over years – the gut; the instinct – dissolves. That most romantic of things kicks in: the power to mug yourself. Once, always.

And the usually rational man, the man who backs himself, finds himself writing bollocks like this at silly o'clock in the morning. It's cathartic. It's a bit like being sick. A purge. But it's not all gone. I'm fucking glad I can feel like this, but, lord, it's a pain. Try to remember this. Not that it'll help.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Fooball and...Money

What with the global economy bound for hell in a handcart and all, I thought it would be pertinent to discuss the star-crossed relationship between football and money. It’s a curious thing, money. And we seem to be at something of a crossroads. I am (just) old enough to remember my uncle slipping a fiver through the turnstiles at Upton Park to get his nephew into the ground. And now I am (just) old enough to be reading BBC articles on Icelandic liquidity in order to work out whether we can upgrade our options on the left wing come January. How times have changed, and so on and so forth.

This was always going to happen, surely? From the moment the free market started to gallop, through the investment booms of the 80s and 90 and the burgeoning of satellite television to Kia didn’t stand a chance. As a product, few things are as beloved of both street kids in Botswana and Russian oligarchs. It’s as global as they come. And when things are global, they are ripe for monetization. I’m going to stop the economic theory there, while I’m ahead.

I think money has made football more interesting. In fact, this is probably because it has made it more insecure, and slightly more mental. Now, instead of writing about formations and dodgy tackles and mediocre transfers, the press have got all sorts of lunacy to write about. Football’s inevitable collision with globalisation eventually made Man City be bought by an oil-rich, football club-poor Abu Dhabi family looking to diversify, and meant that they smashed the British transfer record by shipping in Robinho to the industrial north. Very odd, very unnatural, but very funny. The Abu Dhabis and Abramovics of this world have shit loads of the paper stuff, a lot of which trickles down. Thus Bolton can afford to pay £8.2m for Johan Elmander, an average Swedish striker. Very odd, but again very funny. West Ham could well be deep in the shizzle because of a barmy Icelandic banker who made a fortune in the 80s selling biscuits. Bonkers, but certainly entertaining.

But then, of course, there is the proverbial dark underbelly. When Roy Keane famously lambasted the “prawn sandwich brigade” at Old Trafford, was this the beginning of the end? Has football sold its soul? Is the fact that three League Two clubs started the seasons on minus points an indication that, like Maggie Thatcher’s economic policies, things just aint trickling down as far as they should be? Is the fact that brand new stadiums (cf. The Emirates and Wembley) have entire tiers dedicated to prawn-sandwich munching the end of football as a working man’s sport? Well yes, probably. But that’ll be covered in Football and...class, coming soon to a blog near you. Shit, can you really separate class and money? For the purposes of this post, yes.

In conclusion, money is the reason football is losing its soul. But the gradual descent to spiritual annihilation will make fun reading. That’s that sorted, then.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Football and...Sex

I had to do this one first because it is the url I’ve decided to use. I did this, of course, so that those horny Google bots might find my turf ripe for indexing, so that maybe when you type in “Footballer in randy sex romp” I’ll come up somewhere on the third or fourth page, which some people get to when they are really bored.

We should start with that most horrible of times. The tragic overlap, somewhere around the 10-13 years old stage. You come into school one day, proudly parading your new shinpads that strap around the ankle as well as the calf, and suddenly there is a new fad in town. Phil, the guy who has already got four pubes, fancies Davina, who apparently was the first girl to get her period, and everyone is absolutely obsessed with this revelation and similar revelations for the next 8 years.

What the fuck?! Since when did headers and volleys stop being the most crucial element of most school days?! Since when did it stop mattering that I was the first person to complete the Merlin 94 Premier League sticker album? In the grand zeitgeist of things, this is when sex is football’s mortal, diametrically-opposed enemy. Your love of football is suddenly impotent, out-dated, a sure-fire sign of publessness. It is also slightly comforting, because it is something that you still intrinsically understand, and can feel some kind of ownership of, as supposed to sex which is fundamentally baffling and totally out of your control.

This remains the case until you realise that they can work together- as in if you are in the first eleven at secondary school you will probably get a blow job before the podgy bloke in the railway society. Yes, it is true, there is a brief period in your late teens when football becomes sexy, probably because of all the earthy trimmings- the naked muscle on legs, the sweating, the aggression etc. And also perhaps because of the old Darwinian reading of sex- he has made the first eleven therefore he is probably more likely to give me a strong and healthy child and therefore I should probably engage in heavy petting with him at a house party. Of course, this also harks back to the tragic overlap period, but in reverse. This is when your inability to make the first eleven becomes a sure-fire indicator of shitness in bed. First football is the anti-sex, then it is a pheromone. And then it enters a grey area.

My girlfriend has asked me on various occasions which I or sex? This is extremely unfair, of course. They are both crucial in my life. I crave them both. I obsess about them both. They were both an important part of my puberty. Now that I am a man I realise that football is both a trump card and an impediment when it comes to sex. It separates me from limp-wristed arty types who are wonderfully open-minded but have never slide-tackled an opponent or taken it around two players before nutmegging the goalie. This makes me more mannish, and sexable, perhaps.

But my inexorable relationship with football also shows my pathetic part; the part that is hopelessly geekish and that spends hours deciding whether Jimmy Bullard or Morten Gamst-Pederson will get me more Fantasy League points. And football also associates me with football fans, who are supposed to be oikish and sexist and racist and homophobic and fat and angry. Which makes me eminently less sexable. Tricky.

And finally there’s the feeling- the carnal, wet bit about sex, which you can compare only after you have actually had it- “it” being both sex, and a moment in football that has made you feel ecstatic. That bit in Trainspotting is a good example, when Renton, post-coitally, wheezes "I haven't felt that good since Archie Gemmill scored against Holland in 1978!" There is a synergy here. Scoring. One scores, it is sometimes said, with women. Back of the net etc. Lots of pent up energy, tension, physical recoil, and then score. A recent example of this was when Carlos Tevez scored his first goal for West Ham, a dinky free kick against Spurs ending a 13 game wait to break his duck. I stood to my feet, opened my mouth silently, shivered a little, sighed a sigh of pure ecstatic release, and closed my eyes to drink it in. This was not the first time I had done this.

Sexing and celebrating a goal, in this respect, are remarkably similar sensations. Sexing is also sometimes disappointing, and leaves you feeling a bit inadequate, or unsatisfied, or bitter. I felt all of these things when Robert Green was repeatedly omitted from the England Squad, and when Joey Cole left West Ham when we were relegated. And for only £6m.

So there we go. Football and sex are fatally intertwined, and occasionally opposed, and sometimes very similar in a visceral, carnal sort of way, and will occasionally increase your chances of getting a blow job, but usually not. That’s that, then.

What's going on here then?

I have been meaning to do it for a while, actually. One day I scanned the world and had a rather worrying thought. All this famine, war, credit crunch, global warming business is rather depressing. Then I had two more thoughts. The first thought was that Credit Crunch would be a good name for a cereal, but the crunchy cereal market is probably a difficult one to penetrate. The second thought was that what the world really needs right now is a blog where someone talks crap about football, in a slightly philosophical vein. I decided to go with the latter.

Me: I am a freelance writer usually found with a Guardian Travel hat on. I also do other stuff, which you can peruse on the handy column to your right. I am 24 and have been a season ticket holder at West Ham for roughly 13 years. But don’t worry; this won’t all be about West Ham. My best moment in football was when Paul Kitson equalised against Aston Villa in the League Cup match that never was in 1998 because we had fielded Manny Omoyinmi, who once went out with a mate of mine, and who was ineligible for the game because he had played for Gillingham on loan in a previous round.