by Brent Stuart, Operations Manager, Ceva Logistics
“That’s it, come on we’re going, im not watching any more of this” I said to my brother after the 5th goal went in. Losing at home 5 nil to Peterborough after 60 minutes; being an Oldham fan is getting harder every year.
We stand up and our Gary rounds up his kids. All 3 have come to watch this farce of a football game and I have genuine pity for them having wasted their afternoon.
As we’re walking down the steps of the stand to the exit I’m cursing to myself and my thoughts are racing….
‘im not coming again’……….
‘what a waste of money’………
‘what a waste of time’……….
‘ruined my day’, ’ruined my weekend’………
‘they always let me down, I don’t know why I bother’……….
rudging towards the exit with what seems to be the weight of the world on our shoulders my brothers eldest two children, a 14 year old called Amy and his eldest son Tom who’s 9, have the good sense to hang back a bit and say nothing; fearing the wrath of their father and uncles now terrible mood.
His youngest son, however, a 4 year old called Harry in his first year as an Oldham fan is charging up and down in his usual energetic manner. As we get to the gates he runs between me and my brother and stops a few yards in front of us. He raises his arms in the air and shouts at the top of his voice:
“I’ve had a FANTASTIC day!”
I look at our kid and for a moment we’re both dumbstruck.
“What’s he been on?” I ask
“He’s always like that, he just loves being out and about, as long as he’s not stuck in the house he’s always having a great time”
As we walk through the car park back to the car we keep talking. We both agree that although the result was as bad as it gets the day wasn’t a total loss.
You see, we were introduced to football by my dad and it’s always been a family thing that the men go to the football with the kids to give the wives a bit of ‘time off’ every other Saturday. We meet other friends in a local pub a couple of hours before the match and watch a game on sky sports while we have a couple of pints. We have a catch up which invariably involves a few laughs. The kids get the treat of being taken to the pub by their Dad and Uncle Brent and can have a coke and a bag of crisps before we walk up to ground for more treats; a pie and a hot chocolate.
It’s become a tradition.
What me and my brother failed to realize was that the kids don’t come with us to watch the football, they come with us because they want to spend time with us. They don’t care what the result is; and to be honest, does it really matter?
As we get the car I say to our Gary;
“You know what mate, it was great to see you guys today and I enjoyed the couple of pints before the game. The banter and chat in the pub was brilliant and I can’t criticise the pie either! If it weren’t for the football I’d have been stuck in the house this afternoon or worse still out shopping with the wife!”
He says, “when you put it like that, I guess we’ve all had a fantastic day!”
We drive home in an upbeat mood and before we know it we’re laughing and joking again. He drops me off and when I get in the house my wife is surprised by my mood; she says “I thought you’d be in a terrible mood, I was dreading you coming home”;
“No love, I’ve had a FANTASTIC day!”
When Harry goes to the football with his family he isn’t interested in what team the manager has picked or what decisions the ref makes or how bad or good the team play because his script hasn’t been written yet. That cold February afternoon in Oldham made me realise that I was one of Harry’s scriptwriters and that all the negativity I felt as I was leaving the ground that day would eventually leave an impression on him if I carried on showing those emotions in front of him.
Harry understands that going to the football is not about watching football; it’s about social interaction and feeling part of something bigger; sharing experiences, highs and lows and enjoying every moment together. It’s about family, friends and the wider community pulling together and sharing dreams. That’s why football is such a fascinating, additive game to watch and it’s why we keep going back for more year in year out.
Oh to be a four year old boy again…………..