The Goblet of Football

James Proclaims (4)

This post is about football, so it would be remiss not mention yesterday’s Fifa election, which Sepp Blatter, won, essentially unopposed. Again.  This despite much public outcry and allegations of corruption. This is the world governing body of a sport is it not? Because it felt a bit like he had held onto power in an oppressed totalitarian state having fought off a rebel uprising. His victory speech was more than a little incoherent, I felt. But he did remind me an awful lot of Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars films. Maybe that’s how he holds onto power. He’s actually a Sith Lord…

Anyway it’s the FA cup final today. It’s something of a marital cliché to suggest I’ll be watching it ‘if my other half lets me…’

But then she doesn’t really like football and I do, so out of courtesy I’m going to ask if she doesn’t mind ceding the television for the duration of the match and as I hardly ever ask, she’ll no doubt agree. We’re quite a functional couple in that respect.

I didn’t used to like football, because I’m not really very good at it. As a kid I was always the last to get picked at games. Even One-legged Jake got picked ahead of me, Which was particualrly embarrassing because he was my imaginary pirate friend…

Then again he does now play for West Brom…

As I entered my late teens, I began to realise that being able to do something well is not a prerequisite for being a fan of watching other people doing it. I’ve never been a particularly talented actor (though few can forget my turn as ‘First Bow Street Runner’ in a school production of Oliver! back in the mid-nineties) but I enjoy watching talented actors perform. I can strum a few chords on the guitar, but that certainly isn’t a prerequisite for buying tickets to see The Arctic Monkeys.

Football is entertainment. And sometimes it is exceptionally entertaining. Who can forget the classic FA cup final of 2006, when Liverpool beat West Ham, on penalties after each team scored three goals apiece during the game? Remember Stevie G’s thrilling equaliser in injury time? Well ok I didn’t really see that one. I’d only just started going out with my other half at the time and I was still trying to impress her. Not watching the FA cup final was part of my wooing strategy. Clearly it worked cos she married me.  But I digress; the 2006 FA cup final is a fine example of an entertaining football match even if I didn’t actually see it.

Of course there are examples of boring football games, but then there are examples of really bad plays and films too – Baz Lurhman’s ‘Australia’ anyone? That’s nearly three hours of my life I won’t be getting back.

I suppose football is more entertaining when you actually support one of the teams that are playing, but I think the FA cup final is one of those times when you can forego your usual loyalties and pick a team on the day. Today is Arsenal versus Aston Villa.

I’m going to be a Villa fan for the day, mostly because they’re the underdogs, but also because I’m in good company given that Prince William, Tom Hanks and Ozzy Osborne are all self-proclaimed Villa fans. I expect they’ll all be sitting together.

Another famous Villan is of course our beloved Prime Minister David Cameron. He loves the Claret and Blues. Indeed he loves Claret and Blue so much that he has affection for any team wearing those colours, which explains his ‘West Ham’ gaff during the election campaign.

I think people were overly harsh on him for that. He didn’t actually claim to support West Ham as such; he merely encouraged his audience to do so and given that he was speaking in South London at the time he was probably thinking of their geographical convenience. As I say, it’s the Claret and Blue that really matter to Cameron and West Ham are London’s best known team sporting those colours. It’s certainly no reason not to vote for him or his party. I didn’t vote for his party because I fundamentally disagree with everything they stand for, which is a much more sensible rationale.

He was particularly mocked by Piers Morgan for the mistake. Piers Morgan is famously an Arsenal fan, which is another reason I’ll be supporting Villa today. I’d rather side with a Prime Minister I didn’t vote for than Piers Morgan. Obviously Piers is an easy figure to hate, but he’s also the kind of person to respond on Twitter to a slight like the one I’m making right now.

And getting into a social media war of words with Piers Morgan is going to raise the profile of this blog immeasurably.

So come on Piers if you think you’re hard enough…

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