Love it or loathe it, Football of the English variety is an epic journey, a nine month jaunt that promises so much and delivers good fortune to the lucky few. I know a lot of you probably don’t follow the football and I don’t blame you as most seasons the flagship of our game the Premier League isn’t half as entertaining as it should be, especially compared to the divisions below.
What captured my thought processes in this instance was the way it was summed up on The Football League Show on Sunday morning. Picture the scene, it’s the last match of the season for 72 teams across three divisions, it’s been long, arduous, thrilling and challenging all at the same time. and on that Sunday last each division had set up some fascinating duels between teams looking to avoid the drop or make it to the play off matches for the right to join the automatically promoted teams.
The football fan is not to be envied, following a team through thick and then, travelling for hundreds of miles to miserable places like Bolton only to stand in the cold and rain of a Tuesday winter’s night, when their team typically loses and they have to then travel back through the night for work the next morning. It is a tortuous life, one of hopes and dreams for a season constantly adjusted as it runs its course.
It’s the last game though that I love the most, fans listening to radios or checking the internet for the scores, passing the word around, the rollercoaster of emotion as goals fly in everywhere, places change hands rapidly, it’s a heady atmosphere for thousands of fans on the cusp staying on the division or heading to the next. Melancholy and joy emanating out of stadiums some over 100 years old, just another layer of historical weight.
You have to salute this type of person, each one adding to the seething mass of hope and despair…feeling the tension as the season goes down to the wire, every point mattering, every pass even. And then it’s over, passions spent and euphoria or devastation etched into the faces all across the stand. Thoughts going immediately to the chances for next season and the rebuilding of a team.
Even as a neutral, watching with interest to see who would come out victorious, it was hard not to root for certain sides, taking into account the histories of the teams or underdog status. Fervently hoping a team would stay up and then the highlights flipped to another game showing goals and missed opportunities, the whole thing really was compelling viewing.
With such emotions rolling around the thousands of grounds that host football every weekend, from the millionaire players to the pub teams that resemble a collective hangover on legs, it really is something to be shared and seen. Last weekend was football at its best and with the world cup coming up, I can only hope it is as exciting as this years regular season has been in England, roll on next year.