I have a very dark history when it comes to football. I can still hear the strained wail of bloated dads with delusions of grandeur telling a bunch of seven year-olds to kick a ball to their completely unspectacular and equally delusional son.

I probably sound a bit bitter, but I’m over it. By the time I was in my teens, I’d put the horror of playing football behind me and moved onto more rewarding sports. Masturbation mostly. Well, exclusively.

Still, I do occasionally wish I was still a football fan. It would make conversing with fellow males mildly less awkward. Without the necessary football knowledge, male conversations are a lot like trying to construct sentences without vowels and full stops. In times of crisis, I’ve come up with one sentence that I believe makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about: “Yeah, you see, [Insert Player’s Name] might not be the most skillful player on the pitch, but hard work, determination and stamina make him a real winner.”

I can’t say it’s tried and tested, but I think it sounds good. Not that you’ll find much conversation during the world cup, when it’s temporarily replaced in pubs across the country by terrifying screams and roars. Nevertheless, I actually quite enjoy the world cup, perhaps because every football fan in the country unanimously supports Eng-er-land. There’s no risk of being ridiculed for supporting one of the popular teams like Manchester United, which in the world of footie, is the equivalent of admitting you own and enjoy Phil Collins’ …But Seriously.

As the world cup approaches, football adverts start appearing for products that have nothing to do with football and TV channels start depicting football as “the beautiful game”, with slow motion footage of football set to classical music, or if it’s ITV, U2’s Beautiful Day. ITV generally broadcast the best football coverage, not because it’s good, but because their commentators come out with the crappiest and most irrelevant analogies. Analogies like, “Zidane – the magician, mixing his magic once again here.” Or, minus the bullshit: Zidane – the football player, adequately playing football once again here.

ITV also have a secret weapon: Uri Geller, who regularly appears on GMTV, encouraging morons to start rubbing an orange dot on their TV screens and chanting, “England win! England win!” I don’t want to sound skeptical, but it hasn’t worked before, so if Geller makes the round this year, I’d probably give it a miss. Or rub harder perhaps.

Say what you will about the people of this country, but you have to admit that we love this place and everything it stands for. Well, the football team, at least – until we inevitably lose that is, then it’s time to quietly pack up the flags you gaffer taped to your house, wipe the white and red paint of our torsos and pretend football doesn’t exist for a couple of months.

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