Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Matchday Experience - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Matchday Experience - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Matchday Experience

17:35 – Leave work – Depending upon your job a relief from the unrelenting stress and pressure of the working day or a blessed break from the mundanity and stultifying boredom of the tasks set before you.


18:20 – Arrive at pub close enough to the ground to be lively, but far enough away to be able to get served within an acceptable timescale, if there is anyone on the premises capable of changing a barrel, that is.


19:00 – Having squeezed in a swift 3 rounds leave the pub and walk excitedly and optimistically to the ground with mates all unswervingly convinced (on the surface at least) of the inevitability of a handsome win this evening.


19:10 – Nearing the ground and you wonder if the massed ranks of boys in blue and their mounted colleagues could not between them perhaps raise a smile, given the overtime they are earning and the complete lack of effort they are having to expend.


19:15 – Outside the ground and resist the temptation to shout “How much?” at the programme sellers. This is especially true at away games where you are offered a couple of pages of inaccurate, outdated drivel about your team and a lot of back-slapping, self-congratulatory nonsense about the club you are visiting in which you have little interest to be honest.


19:20 – Arrival at the ground and faced with the age-old dilemma of whether to eat outside or inside. The choice is clear, the burgers and onions smell wonderful in the cold night air, but neither the sellers nor their equipment look less than grubby and it is doubtful they are E-coli free. Alternatively, the stadium caterers will be reliably both disappointing and expensive, but given that work is on the agenda for the morning, generally a safer bet. 


19:30 – Inside the ground and having selected the official caterers, the wait is as usual not worth it, soggy chips and a lukewarm cardboard burger are served up with barely a smile. It is so expensive that you are reluctant to complain for fear that Gordon Ramsay will emerge from the kitchen in his checked trousers shouting obscenities at you for requesting ketchup.


19:37 – That wonderful moment when you get the first glimpse of the pitch and the green hue (particularly at a night match) that you never see replicated on any other occasion in life. The anticipation as you wait for the whistle is palpable. A dull game on the TV brings unconfined moaning, but even in a dull live 0-0 there is always something magical that you can take away from the occasion. Be it a sublime piece of skill, a ridiculous gaff, a memorable chant or even conversation. You settle in your seat and look around at the usual suspects in your vicinity.






These fall into 5 basic types….


1) The Martyr. This guy is doing everyone a favour by being there and reminds you constantly of the journey he has made to be here and how many years he has been watching this side. He enjoys complaining to such a degree that he seems almost to enjoy it when they are losing and is miserable when things are going well.


2) The One-player Ranter.  The object of his ire is to blame for everything, regardless of position. Depending on his victim of the day, the 5-0 defeat is the fault of the left winger because of his profligate nature or the 4-0 victory brings critical mutterings about the goalkeeper’s distribution.


3) The Smart Alec. Makes prepared quips and throws in statistics at the most inappropriate time. Is never wrong and will argue any point however trivial until his opponent gives in through lack of knowledge, but more often out of sheer boredom. Often wears a sheepskin as his hero is Motty.


4) The Constant Critic. Harps on about the old days, when things were better. Will never give anyone the benefit of the doubt, when injured or appearing less than fully fit. Slates the atmosphere and the lack of passion of the fans and compares with previous decades. He always knows the referee’s stats inside out and condemns his every decision with “Everyone knows he always does that”.   


5) The Eternal Optimist. The most annoying companion of all, as nothing fazes him. An early opposition goal means we have “plenty of time to recover” or an equaliser before the break means the manager will “have a chance to get after them” during the interval. On the contrary an early concession in the second half is the “kick up the backside we need”. This is unbearable, a goal for the other lot is a goal against us, there is no upside.  


20:35 – Half time arrives and heralds a dash down to the bar for a quick drink. As usual, upon arrival the bar staff are strangely unprepared, it is almost as if they did not expect a rush during the break.


20:48 – Get a drink at last, a tepid lager with a head of which Shrek would be proud is served at the instant that you hear the cheers as the teams emerge from the tunnel.


20:50 –  After slurping down the foul brew, you make tracks feeling rather nauseous back to the stand. The game has restarted and fellow supporters in your row look at you like you have farted at the opera as you return to your seat, feeling thoroughly ashamed for your tardiness despite the fact you are blameless.


20:52 – Another poor soul returns from the bar and you tut loudly before reluctantly moving your legs out of the way, feeling secretly delighted that you were not the only one to disturb everyone after the resumption of the action.


21:40 – The final whistle blows and the slow exit from the ground begins. You shuffle along slower than a pensioner in need of a hip replacement and if you have the misfortune to have a female in your group you wait 45 minutes for her to emerge from the Ladies.


22:35 – Eventually on the tube platform you watch with amusement as the bemused innocents already in the carriage look with horror at the hordes preparing to board. The train would be considered full at rush hour, but somehow fifty football fans squeeze aboard.


23:15 – Home at last and a text arrives from best mate who is still an hour from his bed.

‘GOIN NXT SAT?’  and you, of course reply ‘YEP DEFO’.


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