The belief, the faith, the joy. It was all oh-so overwhelming and thrilling. It was beautiful to behold but sadly England’s World Cup campaign came to something of a crescendoing close this Wednesday. It wasn’t a bitter or enraged defeat, it was fair. The better side on the day won as they say. There was no crazy VAR decision or cheated moment for us to blame our commiseration’s on. Never before though have I sat after an England game heavy hearted but contented as the sinews of pride repair the heartache. We played well. We lost. Such is the nature of sport. Such is life.
Before I continue and as you’ve likely perceived the following post will be pre-dominated with football chatter. With such a statement my readership has likely quickly depleted so allow me to make a final announcement I am a Spurs fan (aka Tottenham Hotspurs, a north London side for those out of the know). Now with my readership whittled right down to a spacious fistful I will continue with my somewhat, hopefully, followable pondering’s.
Football has been a constant in my life. At times I’ve loved it. At others I’ve hated it, loathed it even. I watch it. I play it. I follow it. I try to ignore it. I push my wild superstitions upon it. I watch my team from the corner of my eye, within my peripherals unwilling to devote my heart to the heartache that is likely to come but it is already devoted and lost within the void. I believe. I have faith. I have resolve. You need it when you team stumbles at that near final hurdle with Spurs crashing out of the F.A. Cup at the semis then only for England to go and repeat the process a few months later in the World Cup. I love it though.My brother loves it. My father loves it. My fathers father loves it. I believe from the moment my father was able to walk there was a football at his pudgy little baby feet. Just like his father before him. Who on a separate note and occasion was called up to the ranks to play for Arsenal. Something he dutifully denied as the family legend goes. So I could just be as easily be wearing the reds of my rivals instead of the cool clean whites and blues that adorn me on match days. While my fathers and his fathers amateur and oh-so nearly professional careers collectively sprawled nearly sixty years mine lasted little more than a tenth of that span. Mine came to a close as I discovered other interests such as comics, movies, magic and writing. Namely interests that required only my solitary self within the sheltered confines of my childhood bedroom.
During my brief boyhood career my team, The Worthing Dynamos (B team), and I took home a variety of accolades and awards, winning tournaments and bagging trophies both personally and shared. We of course partook in our fair share of heartbreak and defeat and upsets. Including making it to the final of our county cup only for our wayward manager to decide to play the ‘A Team’ in our place. Whom invariably lost the game and with it our ultimate achievement. Even nearly 15 years later the memory is still a bitter one, more so even for my father who still harbours the moment disdainfully within him. In those early years I truly loved it, the thrill of a chilly Sunday morning game, the long commute and cheerful pre and post game chats with my dad. The loses and the wins, the determinations, the last ditch efforts, it was all beautiful. As my age crept ever slowly onward my disinterest and disdain grew. I enjoyed it all less and less, I played less, my urge to do so pallid. I became more frustrated and tired of the game on and off the pitch. I went down easier under challenges that years before I would have dug my heels in against and struck back hard with, racking my slight frame. I feigned injuries to play less on occasions of true despair. I know it all sounds awful after everything my parents had given to nurture and indulge my interests. Sadly those interests were changing, people change, I felt the game had changed and so had I. I cannot remember when I metaphorically hung up my boots but I know unlike my father it was an easy decision.
Years passed in which other interests were personally nurtured as I receded further into my own little solitary world of pulp heroes, masked avengers, escapists and tricksters. In my fortress of solitude filled with pencil greased shirt sleeves, reams of defiled paper by my illegible scrawl, of worn loaded decks and towering toppling mountains of dvds. Then one day out of nowhere my dormant passion for the game erupted, I could feel it’s joys burning inside of me again. And without further warning I found myself with a ball at my feet again, playing on a weekly basis, at the park relishing a kick about. I found myself checking stats, learning players names, watching the comings and goings of the transfer markets. My love for the game was back. Now as I write and peruse this deciphering of my history with the sport I can feel an odd burning in my chest of pride and pity. Of love and shame haunted by the thoughts of what if I kept going. Why did I let it all go. I never had the talent to grace the grasses of White Hart Lane, I knew that. Still though I am a fantastical romantic about these things, I think of all the absolutes, all of the whats ifs and there are many. So why did I let it go.
Then again is tainted with the knowledge that none of it matters, all the what ifs and absolutes. I didn’t want to be a footballer when I grew up at times I wanted to be a Lego designer, an artist, I just enjoyed playing the game. Most of all though I wanted to write. To be a creator and a writer. My footballing career was always doomed it would seem but that’s all life is it’s about finding your path. Taking the helping hand down one path only for you to forge another all your own. I love my mum and dad for all the time and effort they put into making my desire to play football a reality. I love them even more though for allowing me to push back, to try, to fail and to find and forge my own path in this life.
As they say it begins with the kick of the ball and ends only upon that final screeching whistle. While I thought that the whistle had already been blown on my passion for the game long ago it is in fact a long way off. That’s what a passion is. It isn’t something that dies, it can come and go. It weathers the storms of change and the indecisiveness of youth and age. Ever patiently awaiting your return, open arms thrust forward. Thats the mark of a true passion and I’m glad football is one of them in my life.