This time we have a guest post from ThirdRateHero about his view of football from a bygone era.
I don’t claim to have an in-depth knowledge of football. Not by any stretch. I can name the superstars of today, and even a few of yesteryear, but I’d struggle to name Leyton Orient’s number 5. I mean, I’m not ashamed of my mild ignorance—if anything I think it makes my football experience even better. Allow me to explain a little.
I can sit back and enjoy even the lowest level of football available to me, without any pre-conceived ideas about how good or crappy X player is, especially in comparison to player Y, who came through the youth team at team Z with him.
I have a friend who can name you the entire Rangers playing staff, from under 13 level to the first XI. It’s terrifying, and quite frankly, it’s boring to constantly hear him say “he was at Rangers until he was…”
I can only imagine that in his head there are hundreds of tiny little men comparing every statistic known to him to see if he’d be “good enough for the ‘Gers”. I’ve often asked myself why I’m still friends with him, he obviously knows less than me about football.
I adore the game. I’m a ferocious devourer of literature on the game. Back issues of FourFourTwo, World Soccer Magazine, When Saturday Comes, and others were among the clutter that had to been thrown out before I moved. I have books on the history of tactics(TACTICS!), and a fictionalized version of the level of corruption behind closed doors at FIFA.
And yet, despite this, I revel in my ignorance. For me, not knowing is better than knowing. I can’t predict which team is going to be put out by which manager (presumably there are careful formulas involved, factors like how long the grass is at Old Trafford, despite the game being played at The Emirates.) Sure, I can decide over the course of the game whether or not the players are shitty, but it could just be a bad day at the office.
I enjoy not knowing, because it’s like discovering the game all over again. If I were to sit there and say to the people around me that Crewe Alexandra should be playing a 3-4-3 formation against Morecombe, instead of the 3-4-1-2 they have actually deployed, I’d bore myself to tears.
Essentially what I’m trying to say is that, while the statisticians of the game—the obsessive types, those with large coats and glasses and the Opta Stats app on their phone—have their place, you still need to make room for the idiots. The fans who are passionate in their own way, who use the basic idea of the game as their yardstick (“can this clown actually kick the ball the way he intended? No? He’s useless, let him rot in the reserves, or better yet, sell him to the others”) also have their uses. They make the noise, they make up the numbers. We enjoy the game as nature intended. As a game, a sport, and an excuse to shout at the massive center back who has been kicking lumps out of the striker for the last 75 minutes.