Wednesday, December 01, 2004

There is much futility involved in the life of a football fan, especially when you support an average team, playing at a below average level.

You waste lots of time and money, watching poor football, in cold and miserable conditions. Yet occasionally that moment comes along when something wonderfully exciting and enthralling takes you and your fellow sufferers to something approaching nirvana, or as close as we will ever get to it. Those moments live long in the memory. Most of the time we take our pleasures from the small insignificant amusements, which come our way. We all realise the futility of what we are doing, yet somehow that almost becomes the point of doing it, today was a marvellous case in point for me.

For the first time since my leisure period began a couple of months ago, Bristol City reserves were playing a midweek home match, giving me the chance to sample the deliciously ridiculous atmosphere of a meaningless match. The crowd, such as it was, mainly consisted of gentlemen of a certain age, taking enormous pleasure from berating the match officials after every slightly dubious decision, whilst trying to encourage the very young team on display. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The conversations were thick with references to players and events of a previous, simpler age. Good players were revered, whilst the mention of some of our lesser talents would bring forward gales of laughter. It was great to be part of one huge collective memory, where individual identities almost ceased to matter, the club and it’s fortunes (or misfortunes) were the thing that mattered. Along with a couple of friends, I chatted with several people I have never met before, discussing events from 35 years ago, in much the same way that you would do with a family member, when knowledge of issues is taken as read.

What a brilliant way to spend a cold afternoon. The match itself served as a mere facilitator for this splendid social club. The final score was 1-1, not that that mattered to anyone.


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