Inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
Newborn boy of season 2013/14,
If I could offer you only one tip for your life watching football, a battered sausage and chips before a match would be it.
The benefits of this have served me well over the years, seeing as they are handily consumed on your walk to White Hart Lane and warm cold hands in the winter months,
Whereas, the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own curmudgeonly experience.
I will dispense this advice now:
Enjoy the heroes of your youth;
Oh never mind, you will not understand this until you see your heroes battle alcohol addictions or promote popular potato snacks.
But trust me, in twenty years you’ll look back at old footage and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how beautiful they were on a football pitch and how they had the power of fuelling your dreams.
You are not as bad at football as you think, no matter what other kids tell you.
Don’t worry about predicting outcomes of matches; or worry that you need a certain amount of points to avoid relegation,
But know that worrying is as effective as spending hours of your life obsessing about grown men chasing up and down a field after a hand-stitched ball manufactured in a Chinese sweatshop.
The real troubles in your club’s history will be things that never crossed your mind anyway; like having ten points deducted for financial irregularities at four o’clock on some random Tuesday afternoon.
Watch one YouTube clip of Diego Maradona every day.
Sing when you’re winning. But more importantly, sing when you’re not.
Don’t revel in other club’s misfortunes, even if it’s Arsenal. Don’t put up with people who revel in yours.
Marvel at the sight of a well-delivered cross.
Don’t waste your time being jealous of other clubs’ successes,
Sometimes you’re five points clear, sometimes you’re fifteen points behind…the season is long, and in the end it’s only about how well you can do as a club.
Remember the laughs you have with rival supporters, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old matchday programmes, throw away your old Sky billing statements.
Stretch before playing.
Don’t feel guilty if you still want to be a footballer at the age of thirty-five, the most interesting sixty year olds I know still want to be footballers.
Drink plenty of milk. It’s what Ian Rush drinks. If that means nothing to you ask that sixty year old. They’ll explain.
Be appreciative of truly great players, even if they don’t play for your club. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Be critical of your own club’s ineptitude.
Maybe your club will win trophies. More often they won’t.
Maybe you’ll be on a ten year season ticket waiting list.
Maybe you’ll dance in Tottenham High Road at the age of seventy-five after Spurs win the Champions League.
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate your club too much or berate them either – victories are always half chance, so are defeats.
Love playing football – do it as often as you can…don’t be afraid to try extravagant backheels, shoot from distance or devise ridiculous goal celebrations.
Dance when your team scores – even if you’re the only away supporter in the stadium and it’s the consolation goal in a five-one defeat.
Listen to the tannoy instructions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do NOT read tabloid football columnists, they will only make you feel angry.
Get to know the people sitting in the seats around you, you never know you might make a friend for life.
Be nice to your sibling, she is the best link to your past and the most likely person to laugh at you for getting a club crest tattoo on your shoulder.
Understand that players will come and go but for the precious few you should always remember.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because remember, we all essentially love the same sport.
Visit Old Trafford once, but leave before it makes you complacent.
Visit Stadium mk once but leave before it makes you cynical.
Never leave before the final whistle.
See the San Siro or Camp Nou.
Accept certain inalienable truths, ticket prices will rise, footballers will be overpaid, you too will get old and when you do you’ll fantasise that ticket prices were reasonable, footballers were noble and fans respected referees.
Don’t let anybody tease you for sharing your initials with John Terry. Whatever you achieve in life, you will always be the better person for the very fact that you are who you are and he is who he is.
Don’t get too swept up in styling your hair like footballers. Today’s must-have is tomorrow’s mullet.
Find out who Chris Waddle was so that you might understand both joy and tragedy.
Be wary of people who offer you opinions on football but be aware that there are many ways of replaying the same incident.
Know for a fact that regardless of where your path takes you, whenever there is a football match on the telly, there will always be a place on this sofa reserved just for you, my beautiful boy.
But trust me on the battered sausage.
Further reading: For Bonnie: Spurs’ Latest Number One Fan (May 2011)
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