Saturday, 21 August 2021

Remembering better times and Sean Lock

I haven't watched a single second of last week's season opening round of football. No, don't applaud me, there are people out there achieving far greater feats than that (yes really).  Truth is I haven't even been tempted, so it's neither a victory of willpower or self-sacrifice. I don't need it any more, I'm done.

Do I believe myself? I never have before so why should I now, but take my approach and response to Arsenal's result at Prem new boys Brentford on Friday night: just about to turn to my pillow to go to sleep I remember to have a look at the score on the phone. Brentford 2 Arsenal 0. I do a half-amused grunt, put the phone to the side and turn back to the pillow. Previous incarnations of first day defeat (albeit a night, a Friday night, which in itself lends weight to apathy) would have had me raging or sulking, but though I knew the result would lead to a mass outpouring of the former, I felt liberated not to be a part of it.

A journalist last week wrote of a "major tournament hangover" affecting the atmosphere at the Community Shield between Leicester City and Manchester City, but mine is an ongoing, self-inflicted bout of sickness due to an over-indulgence of tolerating greed and lip-service that has moved football as far as it possibly can go from a parent and their child kicking a ball about over the local field.

I could have gone to Arsenal v Chelsea tomorrow afternoon, because tickets are still available - even with a full house at The Emirates being allowed for the first time in 18 months - but I'll never pay £64 minimum to watch a regular game of football. I used to choose to pay £6 to stand on the north Bank, and then £11 when I could pick seats in the all-seated North Bank stand in 1993-94. Yes, not every match is minimum £64, but the category system they operate is flawed, as it suggests that the quality of opposition will guarantee a better match, which is simply not true. All fixtures are as important as each other, and £30 to watch every one of them would be a fair price.

One person who sadly won't be at the Emirates is Chelsea fan and comedian Sean Lock, who died earlier this week from cancer at the age of 58. Two of my favourite lines from him involve football. One is from 2006, when he narrated a World Cup free-kicks compilation in 2006 in the style of Harry Hill doing You've Been Framed. Watching David Beckham curl one in against Colombia in 1998, Sean remarked "And here's David Beckham...bending it like Stoichkov".  

The other comes from the same year on the panel show They Think It's All Over when he was captain of one of the sides. Speaking of Steve McLaren, then Middlesbrough manager, he claimed that his nickname was "The Chair". "Sometimes he sits down, sometimes he stands up...he's a bit of a character!"

Sean Lock was certainly a character, and even funnier than McLaren saying English words in a Dutch accent.                          

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