The Beautiful Game?
While watching some of the games at Euro 2016, I realised that I wasn’t particularly enjoying the entertainment on offer.
I have been a football fan for virtually all my life, probably from the late 1940s, and an Arsenal supporter from my first ever attendance at Highbury in 1950.
At school I signed up for rowing, our boathouse, at Mortlake on the Thames, is the one used by the Oxford crew at the end of the annual University Boat Race. Later I played some football and cricket.
I retain an interest in rowing, I enjoy watching test cricket, the biff bang wallop of twenty20 leaves me cold, I also follow Rugby Union in the guise of Northampton Saints, I’m fascinated by the sheer guts of cyclists in the Grand Tours, golf is the most ridiculous game ever invented but football has up to now been my main sporting interest.
The “Beautiful Game” has, sadly, become considerably less beautiful as television has taken hold and money has gushed in. Owners, clubs, managers players and agents are all involved in a frenetic scramble for a share of the loot, oh and of course for the “honours”.
On the pitch players have become fitter, more skilled, more talented and much, much more willing to cheat. Diving, simulating injuries, shirt pulling, stealing yards at throw-ins, challenging officials over the most trivial of supposed injustices, and turning penalty boxes into tag team wrestling arenas.
There are, of course, wonderful moments in games, a superbly taken free-kick into the top corner of the net with the ‘keeper diving in a forlorn attempt at a save. A rapid passing movement resulting in a player put through on goal with a chance of beating the ‘keeper. A delightful dribble past a lunging full-back followed by a cross into the box and a late goal saving tackle by a centre back.
For every one of those moments of sheer magic, there will be a raft of sneaky, underhand acts of cheating and that’s what is destroying my love of a game that has given me years of excitement, pleasure and despair in equal measures.
Obviously I’ll continue to support my team but will I enjoy the experience of actually watching the games?
Posted by Norfolk Gooner