It’s going to be a beautiful weekend. The sun’s gonna shine, the sky will be blue. I think I’m going to head to the gym, pop into the supermarket on the way back home, make myself a gourmet fry up, potter in the garden, then on the pop for the rest of the day. Yes sireee it’s going to be a great weekend. ‘Why is it going to be so fantastic?’ I hear you ask. Well here’s the answer: West Ham are not playing. That’s right a weekend of no football.
There’ll be no worrying about playing catch-up with the team who got an early win in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off. No chewing nails as we scrape to a nervous away draw then hoping the 5:30 kickoff goes our way too.
What about Match of the day? I can’t bare to watch that if we’ve been turned over (is Jimmy Hill still on that?).
Then there’s the Sunday morning autopsy in the papers and the gearing up for the Sunday double header. It goes on and on. Then there’s the absolute worst of the worst: the MNF, the Monday night football. Whilst your nearest rivals have crept three places above you the pressure is heaped upon you. Oh, I can’t stand it.
You’ve waited all weekend for this. Nil points, zero, zilch, nada, absolutely jack. So that was it.
Remember the good old days when we all kicked off at 3.00 on a Saturday afternoon. This was the highlight of your weekend. The ground packed to capacity. A week of grafting behind you and time to shout, sing and hopefully roar your team to victory. Fans screaming at opposing players and supporters. Industrial language aimed at the referee if a decision went against you. A chorus of “the referees a wan!” – and that was just the women!
At halftime you’d all watch the score man put the current score lines up on the A to K board.
You might get lucky and be within hearing distance of someone with a wireless (small transistor radio), who’d relay scores as the goals went in. As the final whistle approached, people left to miss the crowds and others snuck in to catch the last few minutes.
It was only when you got back home that you’d finally get to know the full results. The real joy would be to make it to Match of the Day without knowing any result other than your own. When was the last time you’ve done that? When was the last time you’ve gone the whole day without watching the telly or checking your phone for the scores? Your neighbour approaches and you have to put your fingers to your ears singing la la la…
When we played Leicester on a Friday night last November, I knew I had my chance. I decided to decorate the bedroom. I put the iPod on shuffle with brush in hand and painted away. I didn’t look at my phone all day. I avoided the news on the TV and radio.
It got to 10:30ish and I am pleased to say I did it. I watched MOTD in peace and watched each and every game. It was amazing and a real achievement to survive the day without knowing anything in relation to the Premier League.
That’s how it used to be, a few column inches in the paper on Sunday morning and the odd snippet in the Evening Standard during the week.
Everybody had an opinion but nobody heard it. You’d find out who was playing when the team was read out before the players came out of the tunnel. 12 good men: the 11 who played and the sub.
Kilometres ran and assists hadn’t been invented yet. The only thing I knew about possession was when my dad said a bloke in the pub was caught with a sawn-off. The referees all looked like they were tax inspectors and were treated accordingly. There was no fourth official, floodlights regularly broke, pitches were either waterlogged or covered in sand, and the only way a sub came on was if a teammate had a foot facing the other way than it should be at kickoff.
You knew where a player was playing by his shirt number on their back. Goalkeeper number 1, centre forward number 9 (usually unable to see due to blood, mud, or both at the end of the match).
A manager was for life, not just for Christmas. The owner, a local businessman who’d stood on the terraces as kid cheering on the team. The only foreign player I knew was Sevie Ballesteros and he played golf!
So seeing as we’ve got the weekend off and we’ve no reason to get the hump, let’s try to switch of our phones and go old school. FA Cup weekend MOTD without knowing the results. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.