Let’s start today with a controversial thought.
I like football.
I know. As I have said before, I think a Venn diagram intersection between football and poetry would have just me in it. But I do, I like football. In the past, I have said Keri saved me when we got together. This is quite true. When I was single and living on my own, I was a little bit sad.
Picture this. Saturday night. I’ve made myself a curry, got some stout from the local Bargain Booze and sat down in time for Match of the Day. This is the perfectly traditional Saturday night. Let’s add some colour to this picture.
In my living room I had two televisions. On one of them was Match of the Day. On the other, I was playing FIFA whatever-the-year-was. We could say this is a little excessive but this is just the background colour wash. Let’s add the detail now.
I also had my laptop open next to me. I had two windows open on my laptop. One was Twitter with the feed for #MOTD. The other was Football Manager whatever-the-year-was.
Four different football thing-type-stuffs. As I said, I was a little sad but Keri saved me. I still watch Match of the Day (when she lets me) and play FIFA every now and again (when she isn’t home) and that’s good enough for me.
Now, I like football. I don’t really see anything wrong with liking football. True, it is just 22 people chasing a ball around some grass, trying to kick it into a net for 90 minutes but I enjoy watching it. Particularly when the players involved are talented. In the same way that I like watching the Olympics and parkour videos and listening to phenomenal guitar solos and so on. Anything where human capabilities are at the highest they can be. I appreciate talent. I like watching football matches proper but I also enjoy the sorts of adverts they used to do for various products. Like the Nike ones with the 3-a-side football tournament on that boat with Cantona and all those other folks. Or the one with Thierry Henry in his house being chased by all sorts of footballers and it turns out he was just playing with his dog. Footballers like that have a real sense of humour about themselves.
I am also aware that a lot of top footballers are over-paid, over-pampered and have egos that far outweigh what they actually do. But that is just the way of the world now. You find those sorts of people in everything now. Music, politics, banking. Unless there is a major, major world-wide revolution (which I do believe needs to happen), things are not likely to change any time soon.
I have been to a few poetry events in the past where football has been brought up in conversation. In the conversations, there is usually someone is is quite well-respected speaking vividly against football. I am often tempted to speak in its defence, saying I like football but I think that would lead to the room turning on me and, to be honest, I just do not have the energy to defend my preferences, especially when you know that not a single word you say will have any effect or even really be listened to.
I am also aware that there is an ugly side to football and in most cases this comes from the supporters. Racist chants, violence inside and outside the stadia. While football can be a great unifying force, it can also be divisive to the extreme. This has been highlighted this week.
The Chelsea team travelled to Paris to play PSG in the Champions League. After the match, a lot of Chelsea fans were travelling to hotel rooms or trains or bars, whatever, and were waiting for a tram in a metro station. They were quite…worked up, shall we say? When the tram pulled up, they all piled on. A black man, who I think lives in Paris, tried to board the tram as well. A number of the Chelsea supporters blocked this man from getting on the tram. They started chanting ‘We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.’ (I think that’s how the chant went.)
This is the darkest part of the underbelly of football. It is abhorrent to think that people like this still exist today. I hope Chelsea do the decent thing and ban these people from all future games, rescind season tickets and that all clubs follow suit. It has no place in any walk of life. What is worrying is there are people who take kids to football matches. I went to a few when I was younger. As a child, it is an exhilarating experience, seeing your heroes in the flesh, surrounded by people who love the sport too. They could easily be witness to some of the disgusting behaviour that goes on and, combined with the context of being overjoyed to be at the football, associate this behaviour with that feeling. It can be very damaging.
Let’s hope these Chelsea supporters get exactly what is coming to them.
And not just because they support Chelsea.
Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘stitch up my emptiness’ from DarkSideOfPoetry
Sausage rolls, cream cakes,
buns, muffins, pies, pastries,
No sides touched.
Stitch up my emptiness
and make me full.
Here is another poem. The prompt is ‘sealed’ from VerseReversal
the final teeth-kick.
They drew my madness,
My lips are sealed,
silence the friend of the sniper.
The final one for today. The prompt is ‘Take a line from Enter Sandman by Metallica’ from LIPoetry.
Ideas race past light
as soon as darkness falls,
brain screamed awake.
Tomorrow, yesterday I will dream of
heavy thoughts tonight.