Tuesday, February 02, 2010

An Open Letter to a Young Football Hater

Yes my love, I do see exactly why you might think football is a worthless game and with moral garbage on legs like John Terry, I can understand why you might think football players worthless.

But look what happened tonight. Crystal Palace are in administration. They were so skint that they couldn't play their star striker at weekend because the administrator wouldn't take the risk of him being injured before they sold him off.

They were so lacking in resources for tonight's cup game that they had to play a defender in attack - someone who had almost accidentally scored a handful of goals in over 200 games.

They were playing Wolves, who are in the Premier League - they're not a great team but they should have easily been able to have seen off this shower.

What happened ? Well, the stand-in striker scored a hat-trick in one amazing seven minutes of football that Roy of the Rovers would have struggled to match.

It wasn't just the goals - it was watching the contrasting emotions that made the experience special. And this wasn't manufactured fictional emotion like you'd see in a good production of Macbeth - this was real human feelings of the type you never see anywhere else.

Take a look at the Palace fans - team up for sale and in real risk of relegation - they turn out for a cup game and sing their hearts out and, blow me, something magical and improbable happens - a miracle beyond their wildest dreams.

Look at Danny Butterfield, who is so obscure that I've just had to google to get his first name. Yesterday he was a honest hard-working footballer playing for a team on the skids. Today he's got thousands of people chanting "Butterfield for England!" His reaction of puzzled incomprehension wasn't one that any gifted actor could have matched.

Look at Mick McCarthy's face. He's the Wolves manager and he cares about doing a good job. Really cares. And his expensively-collected team have just let an unremarkable defender put three goals past them. He's not just crying - he's crying what looks like blood out of his bloodshot eye and it looks like his head is about to explode. King Lear never felt quite this bad.

Football is drama, Stanetta - it's just that it's in a language you need to learn. Come over to the Reebok and let me give you some lessons ?

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