That Difficult Conversation

Dear English Football

Sorry for the note. It’s just sometimes easier to write things down than to tell you face-to-face.

Don’t worry, I’m not leaving you. I love you too much to ever do that, but I am also seeing someone else – the Danish Superliga – and we’ve been spending quite a bit of time together and I’ve a feeling we’ll be spending quite a bit more too.

I have to admit, I might just be falling in love with them a little bit.

It’s not just because they let me drink in view of the pitch (before you say it) but because of several other things that they do that just make me feel….I don’t know, a little more loved, I guess.

Let me try to explain.

Sing When You’re Winning

You know how you have that tendency to go really quiet, especially when your team is losing? You know how you get onto the manager’s back when he doesn’t make a substitution quickly enough for your liking, or how you can turn on your own players if a pass or two goes astray?

Well, they don’t do that.

If I’m honest, I’d convinced myself that all football clubs did it – that it was the way it had to be, but I’ve now realised I’ve been wrong all this time. They encourage their players and try to raise their players, even when it’s going badly. They keep singing throughout the game – regardless of the score – and it works. You can really see the extra motivation it gives their players.

I Can Feel It In The Atmosphere

I’ve always said you’re too quiet at time, haven’t I? A bit too reserved and too…well, a bit too English. I know there is a difficult balance between being supportive and wanting to be entertained but I just wish that you’d let yourself go a little and show a bit more passion.

Look, I know you can’t just light fireworks and have smoke (in club colours) billowing into the stands because of the strict UK laws. But do you have to greet your team with a light ripple of indifferent applause instead? Last year, I heard some of you boo the home team onto the pitch at the start of one game. In Denmark, they have some fans positioned on these little podiums and they conduct the crowd, get everyone chanting and singing. You should try it, it’s amazing, and I think you’d quite enjoy the experience if you’d give it a go.

Under New Management

You know how I always say that your directors want very little to do with me and probably don’t even like me? You know how they are always too busy and can’t make time to get to know me a little better?

It was so different in Denmark. At the weekend, I was outside a stadium and (instead of the usual cold shoulder that I’m used to with you, where you don’t even acknowledge that I’m there) one of their club directors came outside to greet me, show me around and was even wearing the club shirt instead of a shirt and tie.

Why can’t your directors do that? Even if it’s just once in a while.

Players Only Love You When They’re Playing

You often walk past with your big ‘leave me alone’ headphones on and ignore me on occasions, even if I scream your name or wave my arms wildly in your direction. It drives me crazy at times.  All I want is a bit of your time and attention as a reward for being there for you, come what may: week in, week out.

They don’t ignore me in Denmark. They take the time to speak to me, to fans, media and they are open, honest, self-deprecating and have a GSOH. They seem to really value the community, the local people who give up their time and money to cheer them on and there seems to be an unbreakable bond. They appreciate the sacrifices we all make, and they acknowledge it.

Doing It For The Kids

Whatever happens between us in the future, we can’t lose sight of the children. Their needs have to come first. They are the future, after all. I know you try hard at times in that respect, but I’ve always said you could do more.

What about the odd kid’s tournament before a game? If that’s too much, what about letting them go on the Xbox once in a while, or having players they can meet and chat with them before a match; or even just letting them have their face painted? We can’t ever lose sight that, in ten to twenty years’ time, it will be this generation who we’ll need to keep things going.

I know this might have come as a shock to you. I know you think you’re really good, and you are in many ways, but you can’t keep taking me for granted and expecting me to always be there. You have to keep working at a relationship for it to grow.

That’s what they are doing in Denmark.

They aren’t perfect. They might rely a little too much on sausage and beer a wee bit. Their smoke bombs and pyrotechnics can be a bit of a shock at first too, but it’s part of the way some fans do things over there.

And hey, It’s not their fault so don’t blame them. They didn’t ask me to fall in love with them. They are just trying to compete with other sports, other leisure activities and entertainment  just like you are.

Maybe I’m guilty of seeing it all through rose-tinted spectacles, the way we do in a new, exciting relationship, but there is so much that you could learn from them, if you really wanted to.

You might have to. If you want me all to yourself again anyway.

Yours, for now