It's been one week since I launched this blog on the crest of a wave of NZ football success.
In that week I have made 8 posts, acquired 1
Granted about 30 of those views are me obsessing about my blog, and I did blackmail my football team with diminished game time next season if they didn't come and have a squiz, but the rest are legit- mainly, I think from the Yellow Fever Website, on which I am a regular poster boy.
Immediately after I launched the blog I did a google search for the phrase Foootball Tragic and came across this blog: http://thefootballtragic.blogspot.com/
(Why I didn't search before I named the blog escapes me!)
Like Mike Salter, The Aussie Football Tragic, the name Football Tragic was also in "within easy reach in my subconscious", a kind of shortcut to explain a life made complicated by the simplest game.
So as part homage, and part explanation, to Mike, here are my own credentials, or lack thereof, for being a Football Tragic.
Arguments AGAINST calling myself a Football Tragic:
1. I don't have a club.
When I was younger I'd tell people I supported Everton because I fell for football in the 80's, when the Toffees were a force. But I soon realised I knew f'all about the FA Cup Winners of 1984. The Hand of God Blog does a better job of describing the incongruity of being a football supporter in a time and place when there were no big local clubs to support, at least not on the goggle nor google box.
Now when people hear I like football they always ask me what team I support, and I shrug. I have to be honest and say I don't have one- I genuinely follow football for the sake of football. Sure there are teams I believe are more worthy than others, and of course I follow my local clubs such as Wellington United, Team Wellington and the resurgent Phoenix, but when Wellington secured an A-League Franchise my joy was more about the chance to see better quality football, to have the experience of banter and game-day rituals than the blind devotion of following a club which shares your postcode.
2. I know a truckload about football, but I don't really know anything about football.
I know things like club nicknames and how they got them, I know why they chose their colours, I know all about the 'miracle on grass' and the 'Battle of Berne' but I draw a blank when it comes to modern tactics, and the most recent signings of this club or that.
Before the recent World Cup qualifier every fan was talking about what formation Ricki Herbert should play, and how the weather would affect the match- I didn't really know, and I didn't really care. I suspect that most tactical discussions are at their heart naive, since football is a game of a mere 90 minutes but a full 90 emotions, where a gee'd up manager on the sideline shouting insights like "give it some welly!" and " put it back in the mixer!" is as influential as the logical stare of a sang froid 'tactician.'.
In my own humble opinion I think Ricki makes decisions with his heart anyway, and the gamble to play three strikers home and away against Bahrain was a master stroke of instinct over the accepted conventions of knock-out football.
Arguments FOR calling myself a Football Tragic:
1. Like I already said- I know a lot about football.
I am a jogging encyclopaedia of arcana- none of it useful and most of it football. But, unlike most trainspotters, I am always happy to be proven wrong and to learn from a mistake- like the time I told a Bavarian native that his club Bayern Munich was named after a pharmaceutical company, mistaking them for Bayer Leverkusen. Now that was embarassing.
2. I waste copious amounts of time on seemingly pointless 'football related' projects.
Like searching google earth for bird's eye views of football stadia, or even park football, to try and find pictures of actual games being played. (Don't tell me you haven't done this.) It's like a Where's Wally where Wally wears footie boots.
I compile stats from my own club games (yes, Capital Football Div 9- very sad) Stats like shots on and off target, corners conceded, corners won. Who cares? I do.
3. I really really really like watching and playing football.
I will watch it anywhere, anytime and in any format. From juniors to street football, from indoor to park kickabouts, I think I'd rather watch a mediocre game of footie than a very good game of Rugger such as Super 14 etc. (But never having been to a live All Blacks game I will hold fire on that one until I have seen my first All Black Haka in the flesh).
I try and take a ball with me where ever I go (there are two stashed in the car). If there are no kids or willing adults about to play ball I'll day dream cup winning volleys on an empty park till the cows come home.
I went on a holiday to Rarotonga and packed a size 4 ball (for the extra space). Once there I took off on a moped, and at Titikaveka School I found some boys playing Rugby. Once I pulled out the ball the game soon changed, though the island boys could not help the odd Henry-esque flourish of the hand or two, so deeply engrained was the Rugby tradition.
I was meant to leave the ball behind to plant a seed of soccer on that rocky Webb Ellis enclave but I couldn't do it. What if someone wanted to play with me at the airport?
Now that's tragic.