Tutti Footie

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“Pass the bally ball, Smithers!”

Ah, football. I’m one of those sport loons that discovers a passion for the required sport at the required time – Wimbledon, Olympics, World Cup etc – and then forgets all about it until the next time. Fickle, maybe. Enthusiastic, definitely. Wide-eyed with the theatre of it all: a hundred and ten percent, as the football managers say.

Saints v Spurs, Sunday 28 October. The anniversary of my first date with my first boyfriend, incidentally. I didn’t think of him once. There was far too much else going on at this, the first Premier League match of my life. Rude chants by large men with indeterminate tattoos. The life-affirming vigour of male heartbeats like a dash of Lynx-scented smelling salts. Red and white striped bobble hats, intricate rhythms drummed with passion on the great milky plastic windows that cinch the St Mary’s ground. My two boys accepting the gracious apologies of a Spurs fan, who stopped mid-song on realising the age of his knee-high neighbours. The only thing missing was Terry Venables saying something splendidly fatuous along the lines of:

Love despite triumph:
Gareth Bale salutes his former club

“I felt a lump in my throat as the ball went in.”

But we can’t have it all.

It wasn’t Saints’ day, and the beast of defeat trod on the swaying red-and-white doormat of home fans. They took it in good part. From what I can gather, they’ve had plenty of practice.

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