The great Bruce McGuire pointed me at this, a celebration of what it is to be discovering football in America at the moment. While I appreciate that a lot of you mericans have been onside for years (many years in some case, eh, Don?), there’s something quite exciting about what seems to be happening in the US of States.
I am a bit envious. Football in England has history (not that we really acknowledge this), but it also has a fairly ridiculous culture of over-analysis. I wish we could all just go along to the matches and sing and be excited like we’re all 11 years old.
This existential crisis is doubly troubling, given that I’m notionally in the ‘over-analysis’ trade writing all this crap day-upon-day. Were it not for the fact that I quite like doing this website (I think I’ve learned a lot), and especially like putting out the annual reviews (number six (!) is in the works), I’d happily never read another internet football story again.
Is that true? I don’t know. But I certainly would *like* to think nothing of Fulham between matches, attend each game with the freshness of the unburdened mind, experience joy and surprise and relief at every match without having to wonder why, why, why all the time (this’ll never stop: I asked my poor mother ‘why?’ more than any child reasonably should and presumably drove her to the limit of her patience in so doing. If Stanley does this we’ll use the tried and tested Dog Borstal technique of squirting him with a water pistol to effect pavlovian conditioning (not really)).
But the people of Portland seem to be having so much fun! I do understand that this is all a bit too neat and that they’re marketing themselves like mad things trying to convert people and draw them to the games with what they think is the essense of soccer, but still, it really does look like football in America is *becoming*. People like Bruce and Brian Quarstad are in at the ground level and must feel like kings of the world to see how it’s all shaking out.
Back here we have the shiny names and the “star power”, but because of all that we’ve reached a point where we are paying silly money to go to the games and can’t really countenance going to away matches, which are the only occasions where you get that eleven year old feeling again (New grounds are exciting, people sing, you’re sitting somewhere different, etc).
I don’t know. I’m just getting really fed up with how every Fulham defeat requires at least four scapegoats, three horsemen and half an apocalypse, when, as we all know, this team is almost certain to lose 10-15 times a season, some of which will be to good teams, some to bad teams. It’s simply going to happen. And yet every time it does we get the same old outcry as if the Pope’s just used divine power to resurrect Princess Diana then, on a whim, killed her again just because he could.
But no, Fulham may not lose.
It’s always been the way. I know that fans booed in the sixties golden era and had scapegoats then, too (Steve Earl played a bit later than that but talks in “Match of my life” about how he hated the home crowd and the way they treated him). It’s part of life, part of some deep herd instinct to do something or other that makes us feel something or other. I know that. It’s just becoming really dull to me. Perhaps it’s perspective. Perhaps I don’t care enough (this is almost certainly true). Perhaps my life is changing too much for me to hang onto 11 year old style ideals. Or perhaps it *is* all becoming a bit rubbish.
Trouble is, there’s nothing else. It’s in too deep. Rugby doesn’t do it, cricket’s great fun to play but I haven’t the time to watch it, and in any case, I don’t know who anyone is anymore. Perhaps the Olympics will renew some kind of thrill-of-sports spark inside me, but it’s more likely that repeated viewing of Sebastian Coe’s face will have entirely the opposite effect. Perhaps horse racing is the answer.
It isn’t though, is it? We’re stuck with football, f*cking football.