Football Focus

Minette Marrin has had a lot of coffee this morning.

It seems she’s had it up to here with the recent coverage of football-related stories. All proletarian spectator sports attract corruption, greed and beastly behaviour. for obvious reasons Not only that but the girls who are attracted to footballers are silly little slags

If you can get past her quite pungent snobbery she does have an interesting point to make. That football has recently gone from being a mainly working-class sport to something approaching a national religion that we must prostrate themselves before if we want to be considered of the people.. This is how she puts it:

Somehow we’re all supposed to toe the same line about this damn game. You must know about football. You must care about football. You must think football is really, really important. Otherwise there must be something wrong with you. Worse than that, you must be an out-of-touch toff so no one can possibly take you seriously.

Declaring your love for football is these days tantamount to declaring your love of humanity, your deep belief in things that really matter. Of course you may admit you’re not an active supporter, you may not go to matches, but you care. You understand. Failing to declare your faith is deeply suspect.

I first became aware that some strange new ideology was growing up around football about 20 years ago. I was talking to a group of young men friends, all aspiring writers like me, and foolishly let it slip that I knew nothing about football and cared less. “What?” cried one literary Young Turk (now well known), in shock and contempt. “You want to be a serious writer, you seriously want to write, and you don’t know anything about football? I can’t believe it! ” Neither could I.

I think I know what she means. I’ve noticed that it’s now considered neccessary among some members of the upper-middle class to invent a completely bogus personal footballing hinterland as if it somehow confers authenticity on their existence. People who went to school in the commuterland of South East England now profess a lifelong devotion to Liverpool FC and publicly-school educated chaps talk unconvincingly about the recent form of the Gunners.

I’ll leave the last word to Minette Marrin who suspects fooball has become a substitute for something lost and that it is a poor substitute.

In the absence of any real religious sense, or national sense, or feeling of shared identity, there’s something very shabby in trying to create a false one out of a game.

She’ll not be asking Santa for a Chelsea scarf then.