It’s been about 17 years since things got serious with you. I discovered that I liked you the most when you were hanging out with your mates at Liverpool FC and I decided that’s where I would come to visit you most.
We’ve had our ups and downs, but I’ve usually been able to put the bad times to the back of my mind and focus on the good. For every loss at home to Blackpool, there were the memories of the Champion’s League final in 2005 to see me through.
As a 28 year-old woman, my days of going to the circus are pretty much behind me. I’d much prefer to watch sport over soap operas, too. In our house, the dive for the remote if the opening credits of Eastenders are heard coming from the TV makes Alan Partridge closing that drawer look nonchalant. I have no tolerance or time for ‘reality’ TV shows like TOWIE and my own life has had enough crap in it.
So, Football, you’ve been my little escape from all that, haven’t you. Until now.
Where did it all go wrong? In the early 90s, you had your head turned by some money offers, and I don’t blame you for that. The outcome could only be good for both of us, surely?
The Premier League was formed and players were earning more in a week than the average person would earn in a year. As modern technology developed off the pitch, you remained true to your roots, preferring to keep yourself moving and relying on those who were your match officials to make the right call.
At first I supported your decision, but these days when the TV studios spend approximately 12 days replaying the same frame-by-frame footage in super slow motion in order to support or disprove a referee’s decision on whether it was or wasn’t a penalty/foul/dive/the assassination of JFK, I can’t help feeling it’s all pretty pointless.
But still, I have persevered and remained loyal. I still come and see you in Liverpool, and when I can’t, I watch at home – despite the fact that watching you on TV is like watching a really shite chick flick on the Hallmark Channel, not the sports channels supposedly dedicated to you.
So much money has been put in your hands that you no longer know what to do with it. You’ve whored yourself out so much you make Moll Flanders look like a nun. A really good, well behaved nun.
You’ve taken every penny thrown at you, and breeded the ugly bastard that is the modern day football fan. They all want their club to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, yet happily ignore that he has been in charge at Old Trafford for over 25 years and was about to be sacked before he turned things around all those years ago with a win over Hereford United.
How can I make you understand that this need for instant gratification is no good for you, for us? Look at Stamford Bridge, where the ‘fans’ are given plastic flags to wave in the desperate hope of creating an atmosphere. Keeping up with who is manager at Chelsea is like trying to keep up with who Katie Price is dating this week, as Roman Abramovich desperately tries to achieve the same success as S’rAlex, yet doesn’t follow the business plan.
I’d feel sorry for the fans who were there before the money, but if someone unquestionably supports a team with John Terry in it, pity is a difficult emotion to muster.
The thing is, Football, I’m sorry, but I think we’ve hit a dead end. These days, in addition to the pre-match build up, match coverage (obviously including the constant replays), and post-match analysis from experts on TV, your fans are also blessed with the ever-faithful opinion-peddlers in the papers and the newer, exciting, social networks. Between them, they create more than enough hot air to heat every home in Britain until the end of time, and probably Hell beyond that.
The people who seem to know everything about you as they spout their opinions on Twitter are probably the kids who got picked to play last and never even played for their school’s first team, let alone had any top-flight experience. I doubt they would manage to dress themselves independently or cook a meal, let alone manage a football club. But of course, they do have years of experience playing Football Manager on their PC, and the two can’t be that different…can they?
I suppose there were always going to be two sides to the Internet Terrorists; the people who love you. In simple terms, the ones who helped save Liverpool Football Club from destruction from Gillett and Hicks were the good guys, like the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars. Although the dark side of the farce are a minority, they are ever vocal and annoying; wading their way into online conversations in ways they wouldn’t dream of in person, ever ready to abuse anyone who doesn’t agree with them as they spew their bile and hatred over what is essentially 22 lads kicking a ball around.
It would seem that winning the first trophy in six years and securing a place in Europe after a season without is no longer progress. An FA Cup semi-final on top of that isn’t good enough either. I feel sorry for anyone who is related or married to these people. I’d imagine that living with them in real life would be more traumatic than Eastenders on Christmas Day.
Fans of other teams regularly tell me what I should think about you; what the ‘facts’ are. They know, because they obviously take the time to read the papers and swallow the spoon fed opinions of others.
My own thoughts are often dismissed because they don’t conform with what the cool kids are saying. I’m told I don’t understand because I am a girl, and I have never played the game (often said without asking me if I’ve ever played)…but of course, Ladies Football will never be accepted the way that you were by those who claim to love you, and female fans will continue to be treated as though they don’t matter by clubs and male fans alike.
The more I think about it, the less I like what you’ve become. It’s not me, it’s you. The other day, Sian Massey was trending on Twitter because she made the right call during match as an assistant referee.
People were more amazed that a woman can work with you and succeed than they were that the away team’s striker in that match cost more than the ground he was visiting. The other night, so-called Liverpool fans were trying to get ‘#KennyOut’ trending, as they show a total lack of respect to one of the greatest ambassadors in the history of the club they claim to love. You’ve allowed this to happen, football. You’ve changed.
I’d still like to come and see you at Anfield, where I can enjoy a game without the soap opera and plentiful opinions of those who are the experts. But I refuse to feel guilty for not wanting to watch you embarrass yourself on TV anymore. I will more than likely avoid those sharing a single brain cell between them on Facebook and Twitter after the match.
The sad thing is, I’m not on my own in feeling like this, but I doubt you even care whether I, or those who feel the same way, like you anymore or not. You’ll just keep counting your money and enjoying the attention from the others.
Football, it’s been emotional.
Republished with the kind permission of Dee. First appeared on her blog, here