Opinion article for Blues Talk by Gary Beckwith – football fan, guest writer and friend of Burnham FC – 29/11/2022
So who’s enjoying the World Cup? Who was looking forward to it before it started? I have to admit I wasn’t really. Not so much maybe not looking forward to it, but not quite able to get excited about it, if you know what I mean? There’s been loads written about the unsuitability of the host country with everything from the weather to their footballing heritage and culture to their questionable record on human rights being raised. There’s also been quite a lot of noise about keeping politics out of sport and focussing purely on the football. Then there’s the discussion that human rights are not politics and should be called out everywhere and anywhere that people feel they are not being respected. These are important discussions that should undoubtedly be had, but just not in this article.
So why was I struggling to get excited about the World Cup? Well there’s a few things. For me World Cups and Euro Championships will always be associated with Summer. Warm days and long evenings, pub gardens at half time, shorts and t-shirts, soaked in someone else’s beer and not caring, the dream of driving around in a flag draped car while tooting the horn endlessly should we ever win. Or is it just other countries that do that? At this point I should point out that I’m an England supporter and a season ticket holder of 30 years at an underachieving Premier League club. Not sure why that’s relevant but it might give you an idea why I dream a lot and let the hope kill me every time. I’ve also had my beloved Premier League season disrupted with no games until Boxing Day. So all in all I guess the run up to the World Cup just wasn’t fitting what I wanted or expected it to be and I’m just not flexible enough to accept any kind of change to the things I love. Yes, I love football.
Just like in many relationships though, once it got going it was difficult to contain my feelings. Something that I hadn’t expected, but then I guess you should never underestimate the power of love. Big wins, turnovers, shock results, VAR controversy, protests, missed penalties, fans with face paint, stressy coaches, diving players, signing national anthems, not signing national anthems, great goals, big misses, can’t predict anything, and everything else in between. I genuinely love it all and I’m now watching every game, even if I do sit on the settee “working” on my laptop and watching the game over the top of my glasses. Can’t wait for the knockout games to start because it’s just going to get better.
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