Sunday, May 3, 2020

Girls just don’t understand football

Quite a few years ago (I just looked this up and it's 29 years ago - how time flies) my older brother took his girlfriend (now wife) to our football club for her first ever game. She didn't have fun. She spent the entire time not being able to see (she's quite short and people were standing in front of her) and our team suffered its worst home defeat for quite a few years. She's not been back since so a family joke is that she's effectively been banned from the ground ever again.

I've been going to watch my team since the mid 1980s and the cost centres love going to watch as well but it's a bit of a pain as we're 2 hours drive away and they get bored in the car. I usually take the kids a couple of times a year but I often go with my grown up nephews, but we usually take the train which means we can grab some beers and relax before having more beers before the game, more beers on the train on the way home and the football plays second fiddle to a day's drinking. It's also fun going to away games when we are playing in London as the reduced travel time means these are effectively home games for us.

But I've had awful experiences taking girlfriends to games - we've never won a game when I've taken a girlfriend and I even had one try to start an argument with me at halftime then act surprised when I told her she could make her own way home (we both lived a 2 hour drive away and she'd not thought ahead enough to actually think this might not have been the best of ideas).

But a few months ago Mrs AC decided she wanted to go to a game. Brilliant. It's been lovely knowing you Mrs AC but I'm not sure our relationship is this strong - the last time we'd watched a match together was at 8am in a Vegas hotel room where we suffered our worst home defeat in 10 years. Plus she banned me from drinking at 8am so it wasn't the best of omens. What is the world coming to when you can't open a beer whilst still in bed?

It's also an absolute PITA to get tickets - our capacity is only 27,000 or so and we have over 20,000 season ticket holders meaning tickets are rarer than hens' teeth. But I managed to get 4 - not quite adjacent but we managed to switch seats with our neighbours and all managed to sit together. 

Before the game Mrs AC got her own team shirt plus other paraphernalia from the club shop - it looked like she'd been covered in glue then rolled through the shop. We all had our usual pre-match ritual of a meat pie (you really have to be British to appreciate this) and Mrs AC "borrowed" my favourite scarf (which is actually only 3 years younger than she is) - a scarf being the only item of the club shop that hadn't stuck itself to her when she was in there. 

Mrs AC is not one to watch sports in ignorance so she's constantly asking questions about the game. This isn't so bad when we're watching on TV but live it's pretty irritating. Luckily my oldest cost centre is a bit of a know it all so regales Mrs AC with each player's statistics, rules of the game and even teaches her the words to our songs (we actually have the oldest known song in world football at our club,_City). 

Now if this were a Hollywood movie we'd have won the game and we'd all live happily ever after. 

We didn't. We got thrashed. We were awful. If they had announced that they needed substitutes from the crowd my boys would have volunteered, with the exception that I'd have said my boys were too good for this standard. The score line of 1-3 flattered us, we conceded 2 penalties (both of which were missed) and we only scored our consolation goal in the last couple of minutes when the game was already dead. 

To be honest we were never expected to win - the prematch odds on us were +300 as we were playing Manchester United. Now even if you don't follow English football you've probably heard of them (they've won the Premier League more times than any other team) but our mood was sombre on the way home (on the flip side I took a Man Utd supporting colleague to this game about 15 years ago and he sulked all the way back to London after we'd pulled off a shock 2-0 win). 

Our mood is lightened by hearing this story of a Southampton fan on the radio - having travelled 4 hours to his first ever game they got thrashed 9-0 at home

I dropped Mrs AC at home before driving the boys back and as she said goodbye to the boys she told them to look on the bright side as at least we'd seen them score. It's on the short drive back to the boys' house that we discussed the game and the youngest piped up with "that's exactly what mum is going to say, what does it matter that we saw them score or not if we lost? Girls just don't understand football". I told Mrs AC about this comment when I got back and she laughed whilst promising to give my youngest a friendly telling off next time she saw him. 

So now fast forward to New Year's Day - we spent the previous evening with friends in a town called Torquay which is about 200 miles south west of London. We were staying for another day so after a pub lunch and a couple of drinks we decided to watch my friend's local team - Torquay United. This is as far removed from the glitz and glamour of the Premier League as you can imagine - they play in the 5th tier of English football so the footballing standard is not overly great whilst the grounds and facilities can only be described in one word - spartan. Most clubs at this level have old school terraces where spectators stand rather than sit (these were banned in the upper leagues about 30 years ago following various incidents but most famously at Hillsborough stadium where 96 Liverpool supporters were killed during a crush in 1989). Quite a few of these terraces are also uncovered so you're open to the elements - luckily it's quite a mild day so we're not getting cold and wet but that didn't stop the girls from moaning that we had to stand. We jokingly told them they weren't worth the extra £2 ($2.60) it would have cost to sit but I actually prefer to stand at these sorts of grounds as it adds to the atmosphere. For the entire match they chatted to each other and they didn't talk to us apart from offering to get some coffees during the game. My friend is a semi regular here and never usually brings his wife but she agreed as she had someone to chat to. The opposition had a man red carded after 10 minutes but that didn't stop them from beating the home side 2-0. It was only at the end of the match that my friend told us that they'd lost 6-2 to the same opposition only a week or so before. After the game we headed back into town and as we sat in the pub Mrs AC asked a question about the match "what was the score?"

Now we've all been at the same match so we just looked at her for a bit before my friend's wife said "oh, I wasn't paying attention either so I can't tell you" before my friend tells them the score, shakes his head whilst turning to me and saying "girls just don't understand football". I chuckled at this and Mrs AC told my friend that it's not the first time she's had that said about her - but that the last time was by a 12 year old boy! 


  1. When I go to a pro golf tournament, I like to walk around a lot and catch a glimpse of different players and different holes. I think, girls can manage a sporting event where they sit and watch (or choose no to watch) the action. I don't think live golf would be enjoyable for the opposite sex.

    1. I think golf is more about the atmosphere than the action - would love to go to a Ryder Cup sometime. They’ve just announced that golf courses can reopen here so I suggested that Mrs AC could caddy for me to spend more time outside together - her answer involved threatening to put my clubs somewhere painful and more expletives than I could possibly repeat here. I think it’s a maybe - I’ll ask her again later!!

      I can’t envisage being able to go to live sports for a while though - we had originally planned to get tickets for the Giants v 49ers game but I think it’s highly doubtful that I’ll even be able to travel by the end of September.

    2. Haha., soccer, and basketball will be hard to bring back with fans.