Friday, August 20, 2010

Football

I notice that Wyn Davies left Newcastle in 1971, so I must have seen my first game before that date, because I remember him.  I remember Derek Dougan playing against us for Wolves, and Billy Bremner for Leeds.  I went to a lot of games during that era, and stopped going after the 1975/76 season, when I started A levels and my football going mates started apprenticeships, and we lost touch.  I went again a few times as an undergraduate, during the time of Jackie Charlton's management.  So the last Newcastle game that I went to see would have probably been around 1984/85.

In the 90s I lived in Carlisle, and would sometimes go to see them play.  My mate Mike Broadis was a journalist and I'd accompany him into the press box.  Frankly, watching Carlisle was not an experience for which you would easily part with hard cash.  That was the last contact I had with real football, though, at least thirteen years ago.  Until this year, I didn't really follow it in the papers, or on Match of the Day.  As a Geordie male, most blokes would expect me to know all about Newcastle and the Premier League in general, and not wishing to appear too remote from my roots I learned to bluff my way through most conversations on the subject.  My bluff was only called once, about ten years ago, by a fellow teacher, a Coventry City fan, who suggested (in the nicest possible way), "you know fuck all about football, do you?"  I had to admit that he was right.

At some point last winter, I began again to take a genuine interest in football.  I read up on the history of tactics, and devoured the match reports and the gossip in the sports pages of The Guardian and elsewhere.  Much to Herself's dismay, I eschewed late night French language films for Match of the Day.  I watched Newcastle's Championship 2nd Division triumph from afar, noticing how much they fell off the radar once out of the Premier League. I began to realize that understanding properly the shape of a team as they played could only be done by attending the match, that, despite the amount of money at stake, television football is like telephone sex. Besides, I'm not going to put a penny into the pockets of the bastard Murdochs.

And so here we are into the 2010/11 season. I plan to get to at least three or four Newcastle games, but mostly I'm going to be following Celtic.