Editorial note: for “Football”, read “Soccer” if it makes it easier for you.
I’ve been a fan of Liverpool Football Club for as long as I can remember, so it must be at least 44 years. In fact, I can’t remember ever NOT being a Liverpool fan. When living in the city, attending games was never a problem, and there was always “Match Of The Day ” on Saturday night to give access to the highlights of other games, and eventually, in the mid 80s’ live games on a Sunday afternoon, so I never felt deprived of footballing action. Moving to the U.S. in 1992 changed all that. Our first computer, a 486/66 at least gave me access to scores and game reports, but nothing else.
I dwelt in this netherland for a couple of years until Fox launched a highlights show fronted by Mario Machado, and pretty dismal watching it was too, as poor MM seemed to have no real understanding of the game, the laws or the teams. Still, it was English football, and that’s all that counted. The expansion of cable, and then satellite gave greater access, and praise be, whole games, not just highlights, made all the easier to watch with the addition of a DVR to the home. The arrival of the kids made watching somewhat problematic due to the disappearance of all free time from the schedule as well as a permanent state of sleep deprivation seen only in those individuals singled out for special treatment at Guantanamo Bay. One bright note was the European Champions League final of 2005. It took me 3 days to watch the game,avoiding all potential news of the game, fitting it in around regular fatherly chores, and I still have the tape, but at least I saw all of the game, and the depression induced by the first half made for a pretty miserable day until I could find the time to watch the remainder.
When I moved to my first rental, I paid the extra $10 a month for a DVR and at long last, I could stretch out on the sofa with a beer or five and watch the games in all their high definition 64″ flat screen glory. Oh happy day! Leave aside the frustration of lacklustre performances and defeats against “weaker” opposition, I was again watching full football games uninterrupted. In April of this year I moved again, and had already decided not to pay for cable, as the cost just doesn’t match the value I would derive from watching T.V. “The Daily Show” is available online.
A friend pointed me in the direction of a free website that shows football matches not just from England, but from all over the world. “Great”, thought I, but of course, there is always a catch. That catch is that the games are streamed live, with no ability to pause or rewind, transporting me back to the early 80s’ of I.T.V.s’ “The Big Match”, sans Brian Moore.
Just in case you missed it, the games are carried LIVE. This means that a 1:30pm kick off in England means a 5:30am kick off for me. Yeah. Now, I’ve never been one to slip out of a young ladies’ bed before either she or the sun was up, but this is what I found myself doing one recent Saturday morning so that I could watch Liverpool take on their local rivals Everton in what is always a fiercely contested game – 20 players sent off in the last 20 years. At least my sweetie had the good grace to understand my need to see the game, having gotten up with me the week previously when staying at my house to watch her first ever football match, for which I appreciate her greatly. Still, I experienced a mix of emotions as I dressed in the bathroom and then proceeded to make coffee and set up the laptop in anticipation of the game.
It’s not the easiest thing to watch such an emotionally charged game under such circumstances, especially if you are the kind of person who still yells “YESSSSS!” at the top of his lungs when your team gets a goal, or something less polite at a poor refereeing decision, but somehow I managed to restrain myself and returned to bed 2 hours later slightly disappointed at a draw, but having seen a 6 goal game full of excitement, skill and passion. At least on that occasion I could return to welcoming arms and a bed kept warm. Not so this week. The need for silence remained, as the kids were with me, but knowing that once they awoke I’d have no opportunity to catch up on my lost sleep, I made the coffee just that little bit stronger. It’s a pity I only had coffee on hand, as a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Hull City needs something fermented or distilled to ease the pain.
Why the hell do I do this? Why the hell do I get out of bed at an ungodly hour on a weekend to subject myself to the possibility of said weekend being ruined before it’s even begun? Maybe there really is an element of masochism in being a football fan. Maybe I’m pining for my youth spent standing in the stadium with all the cameraderie, joking and sense of purpose that it entailed. Or maybe, my mother was right, and, as she used to say, that I haven’t got the sense I was born with. Only the remaining 25 games of the season will tell.