December 8 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
London24.com’s non-league blogger Matthew Wilmot on the magic of seeing the ball hit the net, and what every football fan can learn from it
The goal: the single most important event in any game of football.
It may only be eight foot by 10 foot, but it plays a significant part in all our lives.
When you next see the ball hit the back of the net (for your team, obviously) just think about the emotions that are washing over you in that moment.
The joy, the relief, the pure ecstasy and release that the goal gives is brilliantly unique as feelings go. And our reaction as fans is dictated by the importance of the goal.
To paraphrase a section from Fever Pitch: ‘why is it that adults are never supposed to go crazy?’ If you do, you are seen as immature, that you’ve never really grown up.
Well, who decided that? I challenge anyone to watch an extra-time winning goal curled into the top corner from 20-plus yards, having been 2-0 down in the first 15 minutes and then down to 10 men to feel anything other than joy. Co-incidentally, that was a goal that I, myself, watched recently at Royston Town as Wingate & Finchley booked their place in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.
But football does that to you doesn’t it? Especially at our level. When you can number a few of your team among your friends, seeing them score makes you feel an extra sense of pride.
Last season, one of our players was out of the side and playing amateur football on a Saturday morning in a park in Highgate, so we went to watch him and cheer him on.
Then, late in the season, a Tuesday away game, miles from home, 2-1 down in the pouring rain with seconds to go, you’d have thought we were dead and buried.
A scramble following a corner and the ball was turned in by the same man who we had watched in a park back in November. The absolute joy that then coursed through the supporters at that moment was amazing. We ran to the corner flag to join the celebrations and ended up covered in some of the mud from hugging the players.
Maybe the way forward is for everyone to let themselves go once in a while. Maybe losing control and letting your emotions take charge is a way to be happier.
Children do everything on the edge; they run as fast as they can, they jump as high as they can and they seem to enjoy themselves all the more for feeling everything at its maximum level.
With increasing levels of depression among adults, especially in these austere times, maybe we should look to the children as an example to us. Should we celebrate with everything we have?
Not over the top, obviously, and not in a derisive way toward the opposition.
But the clinical point is the joy - enjoy the goals your team score and applaud the opposition when they score, show them the respect that you would expect them to show you and then surely football will be all the sweeter.
Arrogance and smugness are two of the worst traits exhibited by some Premier League fans I know, but if we can just focus on our own team and be gracious and polite to our opposition then our sport can reach the standards of spectatorship that it used to have in the sixties.
Because, be fair, you can’t call it a sport if half of the people involved aren’t very sporting.
Follow Matthew Wilmot on Twitter @cheese34mvw