Date: 21st September 2007 at 6:36pm
Written by:

I was born by the Villa.

After the ecstasy, the laundry.

There’s a very good book called ‘The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time’, which is about the adventures of an autistic kid. Its really quite funny, especially the opening couple of chapters and it occasionally offers insightful observations, which reveal the reader to themselves. One such, is the character’s method of deciding what sort of mood he’s going to be in. Its simple, he looks out of his bedroom window in the morning and if he sees two red cars one after the other, he decides that he’s going to be unhappy that day.

It doesn’t take much of a genius to see the parallel between that method and that used by quite a lot of football fans. They don’t let the colours of cars decide these things (how ridiculous) they decide their moods, based on the latest results of their football team. Some even base their whole family planning scheme on such seemingly arbitrary events. But if the autistic kid counting red cars is the victim of some congenital disorder and can’t help himself, then football fans can and therefore must be counted amongst the real sicko nutters of this world. Well, at least I hope so.

Some fans, not only decide how happy they are allowed to be themselves but expect others to comply with that decision too and can be quite insistent about it. How nutty is that? How autistic is that?

So bearing this in mind, I decided not to get too miserable, as my two weeks of football joy was ended by a drab Villa performance, away in rainy Manchester. It was a typical ‘away’ performance and fell well within expectations of the players. The team functioned at about 95% and lost to a single goal, which was the measure of City’s home advantage. I assessed within my own system (one red car and one an orangey-brown) that a draw would have been sufficient to warrant a full-blown good mood but alas not.

I was disappointed but I decided not to indulge myself too much. I only played Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come, twice – okay, three times.

I was born by the Villa etc.

Distraction, consolation and insight arrived in the form of the Women’s World Cup, even if I didn’t need it.

Football at all levels is fascinating and whether it is the beer-bellied clodhoppers down the local park, or the game at its highest level (Villa naturally), it always has something to offer, even if it is just an excuse to raise my voice. Add in the chance of a bit of innocent lechery and it seemed more and more like a good investment of my time, to take an interest in the Women’s World Cup.

Apart from some egregiously bad goalkeeping the standard of the women’s game goes onward and upward. England have done really well and progressed to the quarter-finals with some stout defending against the German Valkyries and all out attack against the Argies. The tournament has been a brilliant success for the England women and has been marked by strong decisions from Hope Powell – the gaffer. The back-four has been marshalled magnificently by Faye White (the female Tony Adams), while blonde bombshell Katie Chapman has kicked anything that moved. But England would be nothing without the brilliance of Kelly Smith – the first name on anyone’s world XI selection sheet. A very fine bunch of gals all round. And not a preening moment of self-regard in sight, either – some blushed when they saw themselves on the big screen – how sweet is that?.

Sadly, the brain circuits which deal with the game, are quite antagonistic to those used for the delectation of the female form and at no point did I find myself breaking off from delighting in a passing move to yell, ‘Just look at the arse on that!’. The jiggle moment has been more or less totally eliminated, as every boob is strapped down like the hatch of a square-rigger going into battle, thanks (sic) to the wonders of the sports-bra. Only some extraordinarily humungous gazonkers in the ownership of a certain Scandinavian, posed any kind of challenge to this high-tech mam-harness. But that was more scary than erotic, believe me.

For once, in football, I think female sexuality is actually not being exploited like in other sports.

As every woman knows, if she doesn’t dress up and disport herself like a tart from the top-shelf of the newsagents, she is likely to invite the accusation that she hangs around with girls with sensible shoes. Even Alan Shearer who built his reputation on his goal-scoring rather than the perfection of his grammar, in his new role as BBC shoo-in pundit, couldn’t help but make some crack about the sexuality of England’s women. Even the guy sent to China to report on the team, manages to litter his questions with comments about the Germans not getting a sniff up front and the goalkeeper commanding her box. You don’t need to be a sexist moron to be a football fan but it certainly helps. Only Gavin Peacock has managed to avoid patronising the women’s game.

But despite the Neanderthal knee-jerk reaction from me and the rest of the unreconstructed morons, I think Women’s football is winning. There’s a lot to be said about the social impact of football and at present the Women’s game seems to be benefiting from its amateur status and every time I see it, I am left wondering whether it could be the actual road which will lead future generations of woman away from the ‘Beauty Trap’ (see Elaine Landau). But in the meantime, I only know that seeing Sweden’s Lotta Schelin in full flight, might not be an erotic experience but it sure is beautiful.

Not as though football has much to do with beauty and I think the real engine which drives it is actually hatred. This is why the departure of Mourinho from the Premiership was so significant this week, because he was hated by a lot of people and his departure means they must find someone else to hate, instead. I liked him but hate others quite enough to make it not good for me. Its unlikely that anyone with such a magnificent facility for inspiring hatred will easily replaced. As any devoted football fan knows, winners who call themselves ‘the special one’ don’t come along too often. The good thing about hatred though, is that it is easily transferred to someone else, unlike love, which you tend to get stuck with.

But anyone who hates Martin O’Neill, and surely there must be one, have just been provided with a rather good candidate to replace him.

And ever was it thus!


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