The True Price Of Football

Today the BBC published their annual ‘Price of Football’ survey. It told me how much watching Watford costs me. (¬£500 a year, it said.) The calculations involved tickets, shirts, and pies. But they left out some other important things. Here’s what else watching Watford has cost me over the years.

My education. I went to an away cup tie at Stoke the night before an A-level re-take. The Horns progressed. I never have.

My voice. I used to sing like an angel. Now, after years in the Rookery, I can only bellow like a rutting moose.

My fashion sense. I live my life as if yellow polyester is acceptable. Even at¬†my daughter’s christening.

My front window. I blame Troy Deeney. Watching online, I punched the air after his late winner in the 4-3 win at Bolton last season. My coffee mug ended up in the street.

My first marriage. I came home from an away game at Cambridge to find a note from my wife on the kitchen table. She’d left me. I didn’t mind too much. We’d never won at Cambridge before.

My judgement. Just ask my daughter Mooney.

These kinds of thing are the true price of football.¬†The BBC survey doesn’t even¬†scratch the surface.

But right now, following Watford in the Prem, it’s a price I’m happy to have paid.

“If you want entertainment, go and watch clowns”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Football’s much better when there’s a team that really gets on your tits. So thank you, Bournemouth, for being all over mine. Yesterday afternoon¬†would have been so dull without you.

Let’s deal with the dull bit first. Lots of teams play with¬†a defensive¬†midfielder shielding the back four. We have two. They¬†and¬†the back four¬†stick together like a chain gang in leg-irons. It’s why we’re hard to beat. And why we’ve got 10 points from 8 games. But it’s dull to watch.

Which is why, as fans, we need comedy villains like Bournemouth. And, boy, did they deliver.

Since we last played them, the smug schoolboy who runs the team must have been taken to a circus.

—¬†Mummy, who’s that funny man with the red nose who keeps falling over his feet?

— I think his name’s Artur, darling.

— Buy him for me. And tell him to bring his bucket of confetti.

To be fair to the schoolboy’s judgement, Boruc is a master of physical comedy. A lesser clown might have pantomimed¬†his¬†indecision with a finger on his chin before¬†passing straight to Ighalo.¬†And to follow up with a¬†slapstick dive into thin air, as Ighalo quietly scoop-turned him, was genius.

— Mummy, why’s¬†that¬†tall lady got¬†a beard?

— I don’t really know, darling.

— Buy her for me. I want to see if she’s man enough to¬†take penalties.

It would have been funnier if Murray had changed into a pinafore dress before pat-a-caking the ball towards Gomes. But not much.

So, in the end, it was an entertaining afternoon. I was expecting the referee to reach for¬†a red card from¬†his back pocket and pull out a fat wad of Russian roubles by mistake. Presumably that’ll happen¬†in the return match at Vicarage Road.

But I’m worried that, by then, Bournemouth won’t still be on my tits.¬†Yesterday,¬†they¬†failed to beat us when they received¬†their regular gift from the referee. And, with four¬†knee injuries and four defeats, they’re beginning to look a bit pathetic.¬†They’ve¬†come up to the Prem, and they’re getting their come-uppance.

So I guess¬†we’ll have to start looking elsewhere for entertainment.

After an admirably solid start to life in the Prem, Quique, it’s over to you.