Friday, 7 January 2011

Accepting three lost points: seven easy steps.


1. Frustration as you realise that, even though you paid a decent amount of money to get into the ground, you don't actually have control over every last move of the game. And so all you can do is irrationally shout directions at your players, and likewise shout directions at the officials/opposition players for where they can stick it.

2. Without an equaliser in sight, the full-time whistle blows and the frustration bubbles over into a few spare moments of anger.
Look at that opposition fan. Look how smug he is. He knows his team have got away with something. I think I'll give him a piece of my—oh wait, he's bigger than me. Not that I had anything to say to him anyway, of course. I'm not angry anymore. Never was, in fact.

3. As you make your way home, your special post-match analysis that you inundate your friends with is dominated by an overriding annoyance.
If that six-yard box didn't have such a big bump in it, that shot that hit the post would have gone in, rather than out for a goal-kick. Listen to our manager's pre-match thoughts, even he thought we'd win this, you can tell! God, they were jammy. Now we've dropped two places and need to play catch-up, our manager will have to prove his worth. I'm not one of those who lies the blame entirely on the linesmen/ref either, but if it wasn't for that penalty decision, we'd—eh, he was just shit. I hope he never officiates again.

4. Often as the first post-match drink passes your lips, a wave of apathy comes and goes.
I don't have to bother about this team if I don't choose to. Today was a waste of my time, a waste of my petrol, a waste of my money, and I didn't do any work on Friday looking forward to it. But eh. It's not like I don't support them after these games, I just try not to think about them. I try to not think about our diminishing position in the league . . . I . . . urgh.

5. You think you've budged the game right from your mind's eye. You go on and to your friends you seem enjoy the night as usual. But no matter how delicious the drink, the music or the women are, you feel at unease. Yet you can't pinpoint it.
It can't be about the match, I mean, you don't have to care when you lose, surely?

6. The night is over. You go home alone and decide to turn in. But as you do, in comes the black dog of melancholy and depression. You remember the game, you remember your players not playing like they should, you remember flailing around in the stands in frustration. You can tell the prescription of apathy wasn't sufficient and the whole day has simply amounted to pain.
Why am I tossing and turning in bed? Why am I alone in bed? If I didn't follow this team around I wouldn't be alone tonight. If I . . .
Your train of thought trails off incomprehensibly as you finally fall asleep.

7. Finally, acceptance. You've woken up, given yourself a scrub and have cooled down. A little later, you log on to your club's website and read the manager's comments. Whether they're dithering or have substance, you're at peace. Not necessarily with your club, but with yourself as a fan. Travelling half the country to be trounced, turning up to the game only to find the players haven't, or watching them play well but being outclassed, you come to a vital realisation.

This is what being a fan is all about. Being one of the few that travelled that far, or being part of the majority that will come back for the next home game. Being one of the 99.9% who didn't end up clashing with the opposition fans. Those are the moments you can say you've been a supporter of your team. You have tales to recollect that you don't necessarily want to. You may have seen the victorious local derby or the cup match against billy-big-bollocks like everyone else did, but you also watched the game that brought nothing but trenchfoot from standing out in the elements in the February rain for two hours. Even if you refuse to acknowledge that, you cannot deny that the losses make the wins feel better, provided you turn up to both, and keep turning up after both.

You also realise that you've experienced this series of emotions umpteen times before and can name each stage and decide to write all about how clever you are for remembering them.


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