It starts the minute they’re born.
Grandad: “I bet he’s a little Villa* fan.”
Daddy: “No, he’s going to support the Canaries like his dad.”
Friend: “If he’s got any taste it’ll be West Brom for him.”
Other friend: “So long as he supports England it doesn’t matter.”
Daddy: “Yeah. And he’s not allowed to support Arsenal.”
And so it goes on.
All the while I’m thinking “God no. He’s just a baby!” You see whenever anyone starts talking about football I think of the marauding yobos, with their bums hanging out of their trousers, a butty in one hand, a tinny of Carling in the other, grunting instead of talking, yelling instead of listening, dragging their shabby unwashed selves through the turnstiles to spend 90 minutes shouting at the top of their lungs before stumbling off too a smelly noise-filled hole to do some more shouting there. Now I know that this image is only true of say 1% of football fans, if that, but since the World Cup started that’s what enters my mind.
And now I’m starting to realise why. It’s because I have a little boy. Little boys play football at school, they support a team and they go to the match on a Saturday with their daddy (I’m stereotyping). I can’t bear the thought that all that could lead to him becoming a yobo himself!
This is clearly never going to happen, but then what about all the other bad things? I don’t want him yelling swear words because some overpaid footballer was doing that on the pitch. Or what about someone going in for a two-footed tackle on James because they saw Suarez do it in the match last night. Oh it’s a minefield.
The whole thing has left me positively allergic to football! Don’t get me wrong, I used to enjoy going to matches, supporting England on tv, my heart has raced when it’s gone down to penalties and I’ve even been known to yell at the referee for a poor decision. All that seems to have been overridden however, by a protective instinct for my little boy. Sorry to anyone who will have to listen to me ranting about football. And please, gods of sport, keep him safe from all the yobos and ne’er-do-wells!
*Note – football team allegiances have been altered to protect the anonymity of any persons mentioned.