Backchat With Cat­boy

What's On (Abu Dhabi) - - CONTENTS - Cat­boy hosts the 92 Morn­ings with Cat­boy show, Sun­day to Thurs­day, 9am to noon. dubai92.com

Our man on the ra­dio has de­cided he likes foot­ball

FFoot­ball. Just the mere men­tion of the word makes some peo­ple baulk. Yes, the World Cup was fan­tas­tic. Yes, it was com­ing home, then it wasn’t. Yes, it was a mar­vel­lous in­ter­na­tional spec­ta­cle and prob­a­bly one of the best World Cups since 1966 but it’s over. It’s done. Get over it. Well, I can’t. Why? Be­cause I loved ev­ery game. The joy, the anger, the ex­quis­ite pain at los­ing and the jump­ing out of my chair and curs­ing at a 65inch, elec­tronic de­vice.

And so, at the ten­der age of 46, I have de­cided to be­come a foot­ball fan. Although I want to do it prop­erly. Dur­ing the World Cup (when Eng­land played Bel­gium in the lack­lus­tre fi­nal game of the group stages) I was at a party and the only free seat was next to a Liver­pudlian guy with an en­cy­clo­pe­dic knowl­edge of ev­ery sin­gle player on the pitch. The teams they’ve played for, their height, their per­for­mance record and how much their last three trans­fer fees have been.

At the same time, I’m sit­ting there like a speak­ing potato, yelling things like, “pass it… pres­sure… go, go go… come on lads…” It was a gos­samerthin dis­guise and I’m sure this guy knew I was a fair weather fan. It didn’t feel good.

So my mis­sion is to spend the forth­com­ing foot­ball sea­son learn­ing the ropes and be­com­ing a bona fide sup­porter. And the good news is I’ve got two teams to fol­low, both in dif­fer­ent, erm, leagues. Sh­effield United are the team I au­to­mat­i­cally say I sup­port for two rea­sons. Firstly, they’re the team the “real” men in my fam­ily (dad, brother, uncles) sup­port. And se­condly I like the colour red more than blue.

The sec­ond team I feel I can throw my weight be­hind are Southamp­ton. I’ve al­ways loved their jaunty badge. They play in red (bonus), their kit oc­ca­sion­ally looks like Sh­effield United’s and, most im­por­tantly, my wife is from there and is a proper fan, so she’ll gladly let me watch the games.

All I’m say­ing is I’m ready. I’ll be there in Barasti with my scarf, rat­tle and flask of Bovril when Satur­day comes.

I’ve asked var­i­ous “real” men in my con­tacts for ad­vice on be­com­ing a foot­ball fan. Here are the (gen­uine) tips I’ve re­ceived:

“Ei­ther sup­port the team near­est to where you grew-up or be­come a glory-hunter and go for one of the big ones.”

“Be a hip­ster fan and sup­port a team no-one else has a clue about, such as Dul­wich Ham­let F.C. or Colo-Colo in Chile.”

“Play the of­fi­cial EPL Fan­tasy Foot­ball league. It’s the best way to learn about play­ers and teams.”

“Be ready for week­end af­ter week­end of dis­ap­point­ment.”

“Cram on your his­tory. Know­ing about the cur­rent game is vi­tal but know­ing about the back­ground of teams is just as im­por­tant.”

“Read the sports news. It seems like a for­eign lan­guage at first.” “Talk to fans.” With those sparse words of en­cour­age­ment and ad­vice, my odyssey be­gins. So… What ex­actly is the off­side rule?

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