Kick Off: Moggies Beware.
It was almost a year ago from now. Having switched off the telly with a far from pretty jab by my peevish index finger to the top left-hand corner of my remote, I launched it carelessly towards the adjacent sofa in which I was sitting on. After ricocheting off a nice, furry cushion I reached out for my brew in a naïve attempt to calm down my nerves, only to be flung back into a state of frenzy as the aforementioned cushion released a howling cry of distress, for it was not a mere accessory of the couch but my little tortoiseshell Tilly. Without trying to condone my belligerence I must explain that my beloved Wales Rugby team had just lost their final six nations game against the French and, despite valiant efforts by the team accompanied by a cohesive scrummaging (excuse the pun) against the ref’s Froglike tendencies, we had to settle for an undeserved 4th place finish in the table.
As John Inverdale simpered and salivated at the thought of the English getting their grubby mitts on the trophy, albeit in bittersweet circumstances, I couldn’t help but think that domestic pets are just not safe in the vicinities of our houses come match day. With emotions running high, blood intoxicated, unmitigated idiocy and disposed inhibitions, sport provides everything that a few pints of the frothy stuff can- and a bit more.
Karl Marx once remarked: ‘Religion is the opiate of the masses’, yet these days, with faith being pulverised under layers of scientific hypotheses and atheism as rare as sliced bread, it isn’t too ticklish for us to substitute ‘religion’ for ‘sport’. Try it now? Fits perfectly, doesn’t it?
For years and years have gone by where men (and women) have watched sport, from the likes of Football to Bowles, enduring at least one of the only two emotions ever felt when watching your team- euphoria and melancholia. As much as we’d like to experience the former for the most part, sport is never quite that forgiving. Like an untimely whack to the ole crown jewels (Gentleman, I’ll give you a time to recover from wincing… ready? I’ll continue…) there is something rather unpleasant about the pain and misery suffered when watching sport. No matter how much we tell ourselves that ‘it’s just a game’ in a feeble attempt to numb the hurt, there is something scarily real, something that blinkers our eyes from real life when watching the ‘beautiful game’ for example. I’ve run out of fingers (and nails incidentally) to count the amount of times that my family (in particular my equally steadfast mother) have told me those four aggravating words that I can’t bare to hear when cavalierly thrown at me in a cynical tone as the underdog I’m enthusiastically supporting falls to his Goliath. I mean, do they not realise that it’s more than just a game?!
Don’t get me wrong though, all forms of sport (except Golf which, out of personal opinion, I don’t deem to be a sport) can provide us with that one moment of ecstasy that helps us to exorcise any demons that haunt our minds from previous experiences as, like screaming into a pillow, it is a great cathartic release. We’ve all seen the light at the end of the tunnel, the beacon amidst a macabre mist, as I wax lyrical over the much-loved exultation encountered on a Saturday afternoon. I mean, the highs and lows are all part of the ‘game’ (oh dear, I’m becoming as bad as them now) and without them, as is reality, then life would be terribly insipid, resulting in us living our lives like Tilly herself whereby the biggest worry is which seat would be best suited to rest her fluffy little derrière on (usually the one which I have most recently vacated!).
Which brings me to my conclusion- life with sport can be painful at the best of times (I’ve lost track how often a cuppa has been dispersed over my loins) but life without the thing is even worse. So gather round comrades, rejoice and enjoy the game for what it is… unless you’re a cat, then you’re probably best taking a stroll in the back garden for the next couple of hours or so.