Missing The Match Day Ritual

Covid19 has robbed us of going to see Spurs play live. It’s also robbed us of the journeys to games which are mainstays of our lives. Steff laments the loss and counts down the clock to a return.

There’s a wise old phrase, it’s either deep scholastic philosophy or I read it on a fortune cookie, whatever, it is golden; it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. In the case of many of us, never were truer words expressed.

Going to football is quite simply about so much more than the 90-plus minutes watching the team. Of course that’s the main attraction, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (well, more so under Poch but there we go), however that rainbow carries it’s own vital arc in the day.

The alarm goes off early on match-day morning, and getting dressed is a little easier because you spent the previous evening choosing the right clothing combinations. Home games will usually involve some sort of track top, t-shirt or more overt set of colours whilst away games will offer the merest hint of affiliation. Most of us are hopefully too old for anything close to Full Kit Wanker territory, yet most of us still try to remember the t-shirt, socks and underwear we wore last time we saw a live game win. It’s then all about exiting the abode ASAP to catch the train to meet up with your mates.

Said-train journey will always involve a paper or two amidst some low-flying butterflies, and you’ll also be slowly stewing in that wonderful marinade of all-enveloping focus on the forthcoming game and seeing the gang. One thing about matchday; it’s your time to escape the boss, the build-up of work, the commute, the squawking kids, the persistent missus, the grumpy neighbour and that annoying prat from the floor below who always thinks you’ve got time to banter with them about stupid shit. They all vanish as the train, bus, car or whatever wheelage is transporting you arrives at the first destination, which for home games will be your local of choice.

Admittedly the new stadium is a fine place to spend pre-match time, however it is undeniable that nothing beats meeting up with your mates at the local. It doesn’t always have to be in the pub, it can just be at a coffee shop, for some it might even be the Chick-King on the High Road across from the ground, the point is you’re with your people and immediately, the chat is about players, form, positions and a myriad of Spurs-related matters. Smart people have already turned ringers off, switched off any alerts and deactivated the silent buzzer on their smartphones because this is not the time to be interrupted about a dirty dish left by the sofa, or one of the kids ripping their pants on the playground. No. This is your escape, your holiday, your joy and your therapy.

Away games are a little different in so much as you’re either in the car or on a train, which carry their own tremendous joys. I personally love the motorway caff coffee and sandwich enroute, or the buffet car trip, and perhaps the added advantage of away games is that you’re with your mates for a considerably longer amount of time. Either way, by the time kick-off is upon you, squad issues have been solved, managers second-guessed with confidence, a few drinks enjoyed and your throat is in the process of emitting all sorts of choral terrace tunes (you think you sound like Tom Jones but you probably don’t even sound like Tom Thumb).

The game? Of course it is an epicenter, and of course it will dictate how your post-match goes (a bad defeat will lessen the social after-hang, a big win and you’d best be sure that phone stays in silent mode because you won’t want to answer the missus at 11pm from the local Ruby). But the journeys, the social side, the pure joyful ritualistic escape of match-days are every bit as much what we’ve all missed as the pitch and players. Even that tosser two rows down and three seats across who screams globs of nonsensical abuse for 90 minutes is missed at this point.

Still, soon we’ll be vaccinated and this normal service can resume. By God I cannot wait, and I know you can’t either…

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