A word in your ear - September 29, 2011

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MY son learnt an important lesson last Saturday – men, beer and football – it can be a worrying mix.

That’s right my plan to get my lad interested in the beautiful game called for direct action – well the mighty and largely misunderstood Tranmere Rovers were down the road at Deepdale, so it was too good a chance to pass up.

Regular readers will know I have bemoaned for sometime my son does not, so far, share my love of football.

At five he is still too engrossed in such innocent pleasures as Balamory, furry monsters and an increasing knowledge of the song and dance greats.

Less said about the whole daisy-picking incident when he volunteered to play in goal earlier in the summer the better.

Now I’m no alpha male dad, but I would be lying if I said I’m just a tad heartbroken when I put the re-run of Match of The Day on, my lad runs a mile.

I can’t wait to have my first father-son chat about the complexities of zonal marking versus man-to-man, or why Ian Muir was a bigger Tranmere legend than John Aldridge.

So Saturday was a great chance to head out to watch Rovers as a family. A 17,000 full house at Preston ensured the atmosphere was lively, and he could not fail to get caught up in it. By the end I was quite glad he didn’t.

Given kids went free, and adults only had to pay a tenner, the place was crammed – no chance to gradually introduce him into the delights of spectator sport.

Oh yeah, and the PNE fans were just a few yards away - only a few rather rotund stewards and a line of nylon sheeting separating us.

It started fine. I had my afternoon with my lad at the match, he had his full bag of Haribo. Then Neil Mellor, the PNE striker, fell over after a Rovers defender breathed on him.

The place erupted. The language would have made a docker blush, and the zombified teenagers three rows in front, who had until then appeared to be held in some 1,000-yard stare alcoholic trance, awoke with hand signals my lad is never going to see on Tikabilla.

Grown men around me resorted to safety in numbers by appearing to ask everyone from stewards to the visiting fans to step outside and get the whole thing sorted.

What is it about men in their 50s who look every bit the bank manager they probably are, that when you get them in a football crowd (or behind the wheel of their car) they confuse themselves with Jake La Motta?

It was an uneasy feeling for the next fraught hour, an emotion I had never had in a football ground before.

Maybe because its the first time I’ve really been so protective.

In my eagerness to get my lad interested I’d forgot just what being a visiting fan means. Thankfully, given his disinterest in what was going on on the pitch, my lad still had a big smile on his face – well he had just found the last cola bottle in his bag of Haribo.

I think a kickabout in the garden – daisies and all – is more for us, that’s if it doesn’t clash with the X Factor.