HUGH MACDON­ALD

Hell is other peo­ple: How to en­joy the beau­ti­ful game while avoid­ing ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - ON MON­DAY Matthew Lind­say

Ten guys you should not go to the foot­ball with . . .

B EEN watch­ing a lot of telly lately. This is mainly be­cause I have a smart TV in my bed­room. It is cer­tainly smarter than me and I have so far been un­able to switch it off. It is the only ex­pla­na­tion for me watch­ing such pro­grammes as My Face is Made of Cheese and I Am Dan­ish. And My Wife The Chee­tah. It may be cheater, but it is on at 4am so who re­ally cares?

There is also a strange pro­gramme called I Fell for a Psy­chopath. The Mil­ngavie ver­sion is now in pro­duc­tion, named I Fell on a Cy­cle Path. The tele­vi­sion has been a calm­ing in­flu­ence be­cause I re­cently went to the foot­ball with a mate and I re­alised that go­ing to a game should be a soli­tary pur­suit given that the foibles of your pals can make a trip to the stand a try­ing event.

Here are the 10 guys you should not go to the foot­ball with… 10. Do not go with the guy….who de­cides on a visit to an away ground to use his new sat­nav. Never mind that one has been to Sten­house­muir more than one has been to the brink of de­spair. He in­sists the sat­nav will show a quicker route. This is why one does not reach Ochil­view but sits at 3pm in Ochil View, a small street in Denny. 9. Do not go with… the guy who wants to leave early to avoid the traf­fic. The match must be watched in its en­tirety. In Scot­tish foot­ball, it is called do­ing your time. And if he wants to avoid traf­fic, tell him not to come to the game at all.

He ca­reers around to lo­cate that space that has been left va­cant for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Th­ese in­clude it barely be­ing in the same city as the game

8. Do not go with the guy…who ba­si­cally does not want to sup­port the team. This guy shouts abuse at the play­ers as if they have slapped his mother and dis­hon­oured his sis­ter. His fran­tic out­bursts are ac­com­pa­nied by such out­pour­ings of spit­tle that once, I swear, there was a half-time in­spec­tion of a wa­ter­logged pitch. 7. Do not go to the match with the guy... who has one line and it is not coke. This is the punter who once came up with a re­mark that caused some­one to smirk. He has thus been en­cour­aged to re­peat said line ev­ery five min­utes at ev­ery match. This guy says: “He has a touch like an ele­phant.” He then waits for ap­plause de­spite the fact that a) this is the 4012th time he has said it this sea­son and b) we have all plugged our ears with sod­den bits of pro­gramme. 6. Do not go with the guy…who wants to go to the pub be­fore­hand and in­sists on choos­ing The Sal­mo­nella Leap be­cause “you can get served quickly in there”. He is im­mune to protests that one can “get served quickly in there” be­cause no-one in his/her right mind would ven­ture into a pub so dirty that I al­ways wear my Break­ing Bad cook­ing out­fit and sip my sparkling/cho­leric wa­ter with my breath­ing mask on. 5. Do not go with the guy…who al­ways has to go some­where at half-time, even if some­one else is fetch­ing the pies, even if he has gone to the toi­let two min­utes be­fore half-time. It is as if there is some se­cret en­ter­tain­ment be­hind the main stand, a sort of Frank Si­na­tra sings The Scot­tish Foot­ball Song­book that he must at­tend. And now. 4. Do not go with the guy who… al­ways has to wear the same stuff. This, at first, is gen­tly amus­ing. It is a trib­ute to the epi­demic that is foot­ball fan su­per­sti­tion. This faith in­sists that if one does not wear a scarf so filthy that it spends its week in an iso­la­tion ward then one’s team will not win. Strangely, one’s team can find a myr­iad of ways to lose, whether scarf is present or not. Its only tan­gi­ble pur­pose is to at­tract so many flies that the at­mos­phere at the fitba’ is, in­deed, buzzing. 3. Do not go with the guy…who has his own spe­cial park­ing space at a va­ri­ety of grounds. He, of course, shuns the spots near the ground where one has to pay a fiver. In­stead, he ca­reers around side streets to lo­cate that space that has been left va­cant for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Th­ese in­clude it barely be­ing in the same city as the game, be­ing in front of what ap­pears to be a fully func­tion­ing crack house and be­ing sur­rounded by so much bro­ken glass that one would think it was an in­stal­la­tion nom­i­nated for the Turner Prize. 2. Do not go with the guy who… has a pal who comes along oc­ca­sion­ally. The rea­son this guy is not a reg­u­lar at­ten­der has some­thing to do with the rig­or­ous de­mands of his pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer. He nor­mally picks a fight with an­other sup­porter. Inevitably, it is you. 1. Do not go with the guy... who al­ways says af­ter a goal is con­ceded: “I told you that would hap­pen.” Yes, but he has also run through so many pos­si­bil­i­ties that the only time he did not say “I told you that would hap­pen” was when a Mino­taur ran on to the pitch and burst the ball with his horn. This hap­pened in Al­loa. Twice.

BE­WARE: I wear my Break­ing Bad cook­ing out­fit and sip my sparkling/ cho­leric wa­ter with a breath­ing mask on

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