As I’m guessing you are aware, this year ends with an odd number. This is always bad news for a football fan, its natural consequence being no summer football. As a fan of the world’s most popular sport, football becomes part of your life for nine months of a year. As a Manchester City fan, I will have seen my team play just under 60 games this season, which is a game every 5 days or less on average. If there was a week when City weren’t playing, then at least England were.
The end of the domestic league season does not usually mean the end of football viewing. This season, the FA Cup has been squeezed into the regular season, but as a football fan you can still look forward to the finals of the play-off games and a Champions League final.
Whereas a break is usually welcomed by the end of the domestic season, international football is always a welcome and exciting substitution until August. So now what do I do? Follow a bit of cricket, finish off that Sopranos box set, maybe get that oven cleaned at last. I could take up gardening perhaps. All I need is a spade, some seeds, a hoe, and a garden.
If you look hard enough, there’s still some football. I will try and find some interest in the Euro U21s finals (11-26th June). You can bet Arsene Wenger will be glued to the television, praying Jack Wilshere doesn’t do himself any damage. I will occasionally scour Eurosport to see if there’s a game on somewhere. Maybe the Russian or Finnish leagues will have some hidden charms. Or maybe I’ll just do the Australian pools instead to keep me going for a couple of months. There’s always the Copa America, no doubt in the middle of the night.
Because something as simple as a football result shapes my mood for much of the year (certainly many weekends), the summer will hopefully bring a period of stability and calmness, and the end of the mood swings.There are other dire consequences though, things I will miss. There’ll be no shouting abuse at the Sunday Supplement panel. No head in hands as Paul Merson tries to pronounce the name of West Brom’s right-back. No twitter arguments with Ollie Holt at the Mirror, or telling Stan Collymore to shut up. There’ll be no shaking your head at The Sun’s player ratings, no long-odds bet coming in and paying for your weekend. No praying for a good game for Luke Young because you’ve put him in your Fantasy Football team, or checking the papers to see if Ricardo Fuller has shaken off that niggling thigh injury. And worst of all, for a few months there will be no chicken balti pies heated to the temperature of lava.
I will count down the days until the pre-season friendlies, and then follow a scratch side v Bury with interest, for reasons that will always escape me. Then there’s the release of the fixture list for next season, to be studied as intensely as if I was trying to crack the Enigma code.
And let’s not forget the endless transfer speculation- there’s always one story that drags through the whole summer, and I will be dragged along by the constant rumours started by a selection of wind up merchants on a football message board that something big is just about to happen (needless to say, they are always sworn to secrecy). When your club has just won the lottery, the first transfer window after that is a whirlpool of excitement. The novelty soon wears off, and two years down the line they are insufferable ordeals, and you prey for the end of 31st August, and a return to some sanity. And this summer, without football, will mean the rumours will be worse than ever.
But if you can avoid the newspapers and message boards, there are endless opportunities. Weekends are different in a football-free world. You can go away without having to check fixture lists, go on holiday, escape, and take a break from the constant stress following a sports team brings with it. The sun will hopefully be out, and life can be enjoyed without events completely out of my control ruining it for me. But soon you miss it. You miss the excitement, the roller coaster ride, the office discussions, the arguments and debates.
And behind all this, behind your yearning for the start of the season, is the universal driving force, whatever team you support – you always go into a new season with hope. This is the one – the season where every player performs out of his skin, the football resembles the 1970s Dutch national side, and the season ends with the hiring of an open-topped bus and a civic reception for your heroes in blue/red/white/yellow. However bad the previous season, whatever barrels your team managed to scrape, logic goes out the window, and you go into August tanned, refreshed, and ready for glory. It will be a long summer.
FootballFanCast.com WORLD Exclusive, Robbie Savage Face in a baby Scan