My father Martin lived and breathed football. Between the ages of five and eleven I went to nearly every Spurs home game at White Hart Lane. I saw, yawningly, every apparent so-called master of the game from 1963 till 1969. My dad was also in a Sunday league club whose stupid name I cannot remember and played down the Hackney Marshes and practised it at the London Fields in Hackney every Thursday evening. I was at every match, helping with the kit, fetching balls and cutting up and handing out oranges.
I remember the smell of sweat, liniment and the heat that came off my dad and his mates. All this boredom took place crazily in mid winter, when a fall meant a bloodied gash on your legs from a frozen solid ground. I recall 22 men creating a fog of steam on the pitch from breath and body. I was immersed in football, a grounding in the game that would make other kids jealous. But, I fucking hated football. I didn't get it then and I am in as much in the dark about it now.
Kicking a football seemed such a mind boringly dumb thing to do. At the Spurs ground one Saturday, Jimmy Greaves nearly took my face off and knocked me over during a heavy tackle that pinned him to the fence I was leaning over. Why didn't I move as this herd of power grunting and cursing came hurtling towards me and nearly took my head off? I wasn't paying any attention. I was looking at the green grass. We didn't have much of it around the towered hamlet that was the cockney cultural centre I lived in called Bethnal Green. A stupid name for a worn away permanent bald patch of a scabby part of London.
I missed this final poignant little tribute to my Dad, a footballer and lifetime fan of it. I was looking away staring at the wind making shapes in the green grass, reminiscing
Someone recently asked me in the Cab what I thought of Spurs, and to deliberately stupefy this eager and drunk football fan I told him I had no interest in horse ephemera, he paid me, called me a cunt, and got out. All that happened when I deliberately antagonized this fan of overpaid footballing playing egotists was to enforce my belief further that punditry and fandom for football is at best a distraction to their sorry little dramas in their lives.
I miss my Dad, he hadn't been to Spurs in many years. He couldn't afford it and to my eternal shame I couldn't afford the time. I should have taken him. I should have stood with him in the same spot we occupied faithfully come rain or shine all those years ago. I never did.
Recently, sadly, my brothers, sister and family members were standing outside the City of London crematorium by the hearse carrying my father. It was resplendently covered with flowery footballs, personal tributes and the Spurs insignia, all faithfully crafted and recreated in carnations. One of those inexplicable moments happened that can never be explained in life. Spurs manager Harry Redknapp walked on by to visit a loved one, he looked over, clapped and saluted my Dad and then continued on his walk to his own private destination of remembrance.
I missed this final poignant little tribute to my Dad, a footballer and lifetime fan of it. I was looking away staring at the wind making shapes in the green grass, reminiscing...
I hate football...
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