I’m here but I should be there

13 07 2012

This the time of the year that a fan like me looks forward to because this is the time of year when fan like me should be doing certain things.

This is the time of year when I should be enveloped in a happy stress. I should be comparing the prices on 8 or 9 flight websites. I should be encountering exotic street names as I look for accommodation. I should be finding wonderfully unexpected facts about the foreign city I’m about to visit. I should be looking at currency exchange rates. I should be getting excited by the prospect of another trip to Europe, I should be, I should be, I should be.

I should be doing all that but I’m not. I’m not doing any of those things because I happen to work in a job that has holidays at fixed times of the year. Even though the blow was cushioned by the fact I knew that I wouldn’t be going I still wasn’t clear of discomfort; I knew that I had to face hearing about everybody else’s travel plans, I knew that I was going to be hearing excited voices.

Consequently I avoided the internet, websites and travel agencies. I also thought it prudent to avoid people.  I hated doing this but it was the only way that I can protect my fragile ego. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge people their anticipated trips, it’s their fault I can’t go, but unfortunately their excitement just amplifies my sadness. I wanted to be excited but I couldn’t, I wanted to join in with everybody else but I couldn’t.

I avoided a friendly versus Cefn Druids, in a ground I have yet to visit, in order to avoid the stilted conversations that avoid the elephant in the room. (That’s the wonderfully humane thing about Bangor fans, they can feel my pain.) It’s often easier to avoid people because I still haven’t developed a foolproof system for dealing with the painful conversations that skirt around elephants in rooms, even though I’ve tried several methods;  sometimes I avoid the subject, sometime I change the subject completely, most of the time the masochistic side of my brian takes over and I actually force the conversation down the road of the European trip, just so I can get it out of the way.

Anyway, thankfully I dealt with the sorrow of not being able to experience a new culture yet again. However the problem hadn’t ceased; before the trip you’ve only dealt with half of the problem. The second stage is trying to deal with hearing about what happened, and in today’s social media driven world it’s incredibly difficult to avoid elephants in rooms. For example by midnight yesterday somebody had already posted photos from Moldova on facebook. This was graphic reminder that I’ve missed out.

In this environment the sorrow soon comes back when the realisation of certain things hits home; I won’t possess a charming anecdote , or tall tale to tell, about what I got up to in Moldova. I won’t have in-jokes to share for years to come. Some stories began appearing on Bangor message boards by 7pm this evening.

I know that I can never feel complete as a football fan this season as I’ll have missed the most memorable trip, even if I go to every other match there will still be a gaping hole in my experiences of this season. The inescapable fact that I simply couldn’t go  is neither here nor there, knowing this doesn’t make up for the fact that I’ve missed out. I may be used to missing Bangor’s trip to Europe ( I haven’t been able to go since 2008) but that doesn’t cushion the blow, nothing ever makes up for missing the trips.

This side of being a football fan doesn’t garner too much publicity.  The show-offs hog all the limelight with their cheap flights, face paint and comedy headwear and cheap flights. We have to be content with lurking in society’s background, obscured by the fact we lack a story. TV directors never show our smiling faces because to them we don’t exist., well we’re not in the grounds for a start. They don’t put cameras in our homes and pubs to see how we react to match action. We don’t exist.

We’d like a story, we’d like to be on TV in the comedy headwear but we’re can’t have those because we can’t go. We don’t moan, we just get on with our lives. We deal with things even though the sunshine fails to fall on us by embracing our sadness, getting on with life and hoping that out turn in the sun will come one day.

There must be quite a lot of fans like me, we are the silent major minority.




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