I READ an article on The Guardian’s website this week, writes KATE FORRESTER. I have to do something to while away the long, endless hours until Liverpool play football again.
I’m not going to link to it (because it’s complete nonsense) – <Ed: Sorry, Kate – it’s here> – but the author was questioning whether it was ‘anti-feminist’ to watch the World Cup. She conceded that no, it wasn’t, as long as we women watched it while talking about women’s football throughout, to unsettle ‘the men’, and didn’t cheer on any of the players like “ladettes”. Lovely.
My ‘favourite’ assertion (and trust me, there were many to choose from) was: “Men’s football is loved in Britain simply because the players are men, and men like watching other men play football, and what men like to do and like to watch is, de facto, culturally important.”
That, and that basically these men spend the entire 90 minutes screaming in a cockney accent. The underlying message was clear: These football fellas are a bit loutish, aren’t they?
The fact this attitude is still so prevalent really concerns me – particularly when we’ve seen in recent years that its effects can cause lasting devastation to those pilloried as a result.
It would be naive, of course, to say all football fans are impeccably behaved. There are a small minority – as there will be among fans of many other sports – who fall short of the standards the vast majority set for themselves. I think most of us would bending the truth if we said we’d never met one.
Loads of people don’t like football because they’re just not into it. The vast majority of those people are happy enough to let the rest of us get on with it and enjoy ourselves. But there are a small number who are determined to shout their dislike from the rooftops – and qualify it by looking down on those who disagree.
Everyone who loves football can give their own reasons as to why IT IS important. Here are mine:
A family following of Liverpool FC has to start somewhere, and ours started with my grandad, Ron Forrester. I have just experienced some of the best months of my life so far – the second half of the 2013/14 season – ultimately because in 1949 a 15-year-old apprentice decided he’d go to Anfield to watch Liverpool.
“My dad wasn’t into it at all. It was just me. And if you wanted to be into football, you picked Everton or Liverpool. And I picked Liverpool, because I liked the look of them,” he said.
Ron went to Anfield from then on, week in, week out. He used to earn 25 shillings a week and walk from work on Dale Street up to Edinburgh Road, in Kenny, every night. He paid one shilling and sixpence to get into the Kop. He made friends behind the goal. When he reached his twenties, he started going to aways as well. He bunked into Wembley because he didn’t have a ticket. That picture of Shankly in front of the Kop? Ron is in it.
Then in 1968 he moved from Liverpool to North Wales with my nan. And he started working away and had to stop going. He’d still get there whenever he could. Always watched them on the telly at home. I used to watch with him. I liked Steve McManaman’s hair.
Before the 2011/12 season, he hadn’t been to a game since Graeme Souness was in charge. Time, money, nobody to go with, heart bypass. So I dragged him back to Anfield. He was made up.
And then things started getting really good. And this year me and Ron Forrester went to the Sunderland game together. Then we went to City game. I watched us beat City, I saw Anfield go off like that and I did it all with my grandad. Then we went for a nice tea and I went to sing songs with my friends.
“God, what a great day that was,” Ron said. “I was so glad we were there. It was so good to be there. I’d not seen Anfield like that since the Shankly days. It was great, I was made up.”
I was made up. I was made up because when we scored the winner, I could hug and scream with my grandad, knowing there was literally no way to better that moment, that shared experience.
Ron Forrester is 80 years old this week and we have shared some of the best days of our life together because of eleven men kicking a ball around. Because of Liverpool FC. Because of the choice he made nearly 40 years before I was born.
But that’s not a massively remarkable story. It’s important to me, but I’m not expecting it to be to everyone. But ask anyone going the game, at any football ground in the country, why they’re there. Chances are, they’ll have a similar tale. They’re ten a penny. Everyone’s got one. And that’s why football is important.
This was the best writing I’ve read on this website to date, congratulations. And thank you.
Your last paragraph uses the phrase ‘ten a penny’ which is exactly what that Guardian article is worth.
There are literally millions of writers on the net all trying to earn some sort of living. There are websites that require the holy grail to wrap around their revenue raising advertising , that holy grail being ‘content’.
Writers will write about anything to make a living and a popular and easy way to make themselves stand out from the crowded market place is to take a subject and then write a piece that comes at a subject from an extreme and / or inflammatory angle. Here we have the old chestnut – person who doesn’t like football writing about football – given a twist – woman who likes football doesn’t particularly like men liking football. Yawn.
It is to be noted that far and away the most popular comment at this moment in time is as follows in its entirety:
“I think men’s football is more popular because men play much better football than women. I do not think it has anything to do with sexism.”
There are excellent writers on newspaper websites along with brilliant articles however both are very much in a minority. I’d simply file this one under the majority pile, perhaps under ‘C’ for ‘crap’.
Ace piece! While your story about your grandfather might be ten a penny, I still really enjoyed it. Great articles lately. Keep it up!
I’m always amazed that people get paid cold hard cash for writing so badly about something they don’t understand.
By the logic of this article in the Guardian I shouldn’t like the music of the Go Go’s because of its lack of masculine input?
Football is a living, breathing entity. For those of us who ‘get it’ football is humanity in banzai tree form. The range of emotions experienced over the course of one match, let alone a full season is extensive. If anything I’d say your everyday common or garden match going football fan, one that has even a mild degree of intelligence is, wether they know it or not, capable of above average empathy. Of course some minds are narrow, while others are wider, but that’s not a concept restricted to male football fans. That’s just humanity in general.
Football is human. Liverpool FC threads me together with my dad and my brother in a way no other aesthetic aspect probably could, because as I’m the ‘out there’ sheep of the family, I in brutal honestly have awkward day to day relationships with both of them, but when we’re next to each other at Anfield and the ball hits the back of the net we can reach out for each other and bounce wildly. We connect briefly in the ether, then mentally lose touch until the next game. Football has great unseen power.
They get paid to bring in eyeballs, it’s not about educating or putting forward a well thought out piece. It’s all about selling ad’ space. Whether that’s a space on a page, or a panel on their web-site. The content is irrelevant.
Why do you think they have comments? It allows people to remain on the page and them to serve a lot more advert impressions than otherwise.
Why people even bother with “newspapers” and their sites puzzles me. It must be for entertainment.
Great piece Kate. Your story is what being an LFC fan is all about. The passion, the pride.
Ron Forrester sounds like a #top #lad
Top piece of writing. Thank you for taking the time. It’s so frustrating that the Guardian is purporting to support women but failing to do so by grossly stereotyping what women can be interested in. Roll on next season.
This was a great article, reminds me why the sport is so meaningful. Well done.
Wonderful article that. Angry feminists eh? who would have thought it.
Softlad, Steven Scragg and Silvia Murray Wakefield ESPECIALLY, read and learn. Below, is how you write a nonsensical article with the sole intent of offending football (soccer) fans (male or female).
Nice one big tits.
Seriously though…..Ive noticed that women seem to enjoy watching the England games in the pub. These same women wouldnt go near such a place to watch Liverpool or Evershite. Why is that?
Furthermore, there are plenty of women fans at the stadium. So why are they watching the England games in the boozer, going to the match but staying away from the pubs for an away fixture?
Are then any female fans out there able to tell us why?
For what it’s worth I think it’s because league football is much more tribal and agressive. That translates itself into the pub as not everyone in the pub will be supporting the team on the telly. Watching England getting humiliated, most people will be shouting in the same direction. Also, the stadium provides a safe environment for the more ‘vulnerable’ who would not have had the same experience stood on the old kop.
Do you ever watch any of the away matches in the boozer Kate? What is your experience?
….and your lack of response, and therefore your lack of respect towards your fellow forum bloggers sums up the female fan in male football = ignorance.