Even I know today is the start of the World Cup in Russia. I say that as football isn’t my thing.
Also, we live between two pubs with big-screen-sport coverage. From fans’ cheers, or silence, we know who’s winning without turning on our telly – at least when England’s playing.
As a lad I practised footy against the invitingly high wall of a neighbour, who would puncture my ball when it went over. I also played soccer and cricket games on the local park, though with soft rubber balls.
At school it was a different story and hard learning curve: facing a bruising ‘corkie’ at cricket, then a brain-damaging, leather football on water-logged pitches, with goal-mouths a muddy quagmire. It was miserable, specially as I showed no natural talent – except for physically knocking over those flashy, big-headed forwards.
I also hated that terrifying gym equipment and the exhaustion of athletics, though I got by at putting the shot and throwing javelins (which I always aimed at our sadistic games master).
Tennis became my sport, with soft balls, grass courts and, later on, attractive female co-players. Rugby was all right in practice but brutal at adult club-level. Squash, however, was just the thing to work up a sweat during our cold, rainy months. As for watching football, well, when I first went to see glamorous United at Old Trafford (supported purely in rivalry to my older brother’s enthusiasm for Manchester City), all you could see was fog. The next time there I lost a slip-on shoe at the Stretford End then had to hop to the bus stop.
Even on telly, the excitable commentators get on my nerves and most players, well, they’re grossly over-paid, mostly foreign and cheat, at least by our old-school standards.
Still, I’m not a spoil sport - may the rest of you enjoy it!
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