Down in the Valley

23 01 2010
Llanrwst United 2 Llandudno Junction 1
Welsh Alliance

Shouting seems to be vital in football, but then it would be difficult to make yourself heard for 100 yards using a pleasantly lilting voice. Today’s match offered the occasional visitor a profane eisteddfod; “Fuckin’ ‘ell Ref!!”, “Jesus Ref, you must be blind!!”, “Refereeeeee!!!!!!!!”,”You’re having a laugh man!!!!”, “You’re a fuckin’ joke man!!!!!” etc etc. “Fuck’s Sake” was heard roughly once every 4 minutes. I come for the cheap football but I stay for the industrial language.

As you may have guessed the recipients of these critiques were the officials. Half Man Half Biscuit sing that  without the ref we’d have zero (The song’s below) and that’s true. If there were no officials the game would have been called off and the chance to play the local hero would be gone. The moaning bastards should actually thank the officials for allowing them this opportunity. 

You have to feel for the officials. They have to be there yet they never do much right. Today the comments came from every direction; most players, both benches, the crowd. What do the officials get in return? A pittance in petrol money, a plastic cup of warm orange squash at half time and the chance to become the target of post-match bitterness in the clubhouse. You have to ask is it worth it?

Then I asked myself why the players were doing it? It may have been a local derby but does it matter that much? The result’s not going to change anyone’s life. It may mean a night of happiness but the joy will fade and work will be calling again come Monday morning.

The match actually felt quite entertaining once your ears had adjusted to the ferocity of the shouting. Both sides were capable of playing football, they could both pass the ball well and construct nice moves. Take Llanrwst’s first goal; a nice pass to the striker, then a quick turn and a soft touch into space and he was past the clingy defender. He was in the area but a defender was homing in on its target, he coolly slotted the ball home under this pressure. The second half saw Llanrwst in the lead. Junction tried and tried to equalise, they played some more nice stuff, but they didn’t really get close enough. When you saw the  football on offer it makes you wonder why both sides didn’t concentrate on playing a bit more.

We left to a  sound we hate; the know-it-all in the crowd. You’ve seen, or more likely heard, him (it’s usually a middle-aged man). He’ll be the one trying to wind up the opposition via a one-way conversation. He thinks he’s an oracle, he’s been coming to football matches for years after all, so he will utter something like, “Played of the Park they were!!!! Played off the Park….” . This like will be spoken  as if they’re talking to their friend but it’ll be slightly too loud for polite conversation. Of course he’ll be dead wrong with his analysis but worse than that he thinks he’s funny. All he’s  actually doing is annoying everybody in the vicinity. More importantly, for his safety, he’s annoying young men who are at least 30 years younger than him and fit. Why does he bother?

Upon reflection the know it all is the perfect metaphor for this afternoon’s match; noise obstructing a good game.

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