I never really got into following sport. As a child I could see that it was clearly important to many people: adults would talk about the local football (soccer!) team; other children would talk about national football teams; and Saturday afternoon’s television scheduling was devoted to Dickie Davis and Des Lynam discussing scores, performance, tactics, division standings, and so on.
I tried to get into football, as that seemed to be the most popular sport among young boys. At the age of 7 I decided that I should support a team. I picked Liverpool, as they seemed to be (a) very popular, and (b) doing well at the time. I think I asked my mum to buy me a Liverpool holdall for my school bag. My little brother, in contrast, was much taken with the young Gary Lineker and became an Everton follower. This gave us both someone to argue with about who was best – another key aspect of being a sports fan. In keeping with my status as a Liverpool supporter I decided that I really ought to watch a match on TV. So one Saturday afternoon, at 3 o’clock (or whenever it was that kick-off typically occurred), I sat down in front of our wood-veneered TV to watch the beautiful game. Within about 30 minutes I realized that I was utterly bored. I think the next time I watched a game was some 30 years later, when Chelsea played Bayern Munich last May. I watched this match in Maggie Miley’s, together with a couple of friends and my dad; it was really about spending time in a pub with people I like, not the game. Plus it was one of those farcical matches that ends on penalties.