Anything but COVID

Thank you, once again, for all your efforts of the past couple of weeks in supporting the schools and college in ensuring that we could open safely and, importantly, completely and in full. There is nothing that can replace face-to-face, in person, teaching and learning.

I fear that through these messages, if I’m not careful, that I could, week in and week out, just be discussing the COVID crisis and the governmental responses to increasing or decreasing infection rates. I need a bit of a break from that, I’m sure you do too.

And so…

We have football season to look forward to. You may not yourself follow a particular team, but I am sure that most, if not all of us, do take some interest in our national sport; football. It does offer a wonderful distraction at this time.

I know that in my role it’s important that I don’t show favouritism, bias or display my personal leanings, and professionally I hope that is the case, but in respect of football I am happy to wear my colours very openly. We are all wired up and should take a stand in supporting a team. I really don’t understand it when, very occasionally, I meet people who claim to have an interest in football but don’t express a passion for a particular team. For me it’s Middlesbrough Football Club. And the mighty Boro opened the football league season on Friday with a game against newly relegated Watford.

For me there are three reasons why we might support a particular team – just don’t get me to comment on David Cameron’s alleged passion for Aston Villa, or was it West Ham? – I guess he just likes claret and blue. Some of us will be able to tick all three as the reasons why we support that particular team.  For some of us it’s two or even one but there can be no other reasons than these.

Reason 1. You were born within spitting distance of a particular team/ground. You may not have spent long there but that’s your heritage. Even though you may have moved to a different region now you cannot deny your roots.

Reason 2. Your family have always supported a particular team and you have inherited that team from your parents or grandparents. You may not live in that area but the likelihood is that previous generations did and that’s how the affinity originated.

Reason 3. You live in a particular area and have done so for a great chunk of time and, as a consequence, you have, through osmosis, taken that team into your being.

Those three reasons should mean that very few people in our area support Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, the list goes on. You can admire the football, or the club, or even like the kit (that’s why I had the Coventry City kit circa 1980 – for those of you who remember it’s the Admiral sky blue kit, with the two vertical bands on the front of the shirt). I hope that many people do support our local team(s) – that’s right and proper.

Live sport is a wonderful distraction and allows for channelled passion and emotion. It also prompts desperation and disappointment. But that’s what being a sports fan and particularly a football fan is all about. Usually it means long periods of irritation, melancholy and even depression, interspersed by short bursts of success, emotional highs and occasional delirium. Supporting a football team should not be about complaining when your team has lost one game in twenty or that they hadn’t won the league / cup that year. Supporting a team should be about the emotional rollercoaster, the distraction and the feeling of belonging to something which ties you to others, into your community.  

‘If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work; But when they seldom come, they wished-for come, And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.’  William Shakespeare 

Come on Boro! Come on The Millers, The Blades, The Owls, The Tykes! * delete as appropriate

Enjoy your live sport this week.