It is perhaps the most cliché phrase people use to refer to football, ‘the beautiful game’, but it can be true on so many levels. Football fans up and down the country witness their club go from high to lows, week in and week out as they strive to achieve their seasons goals, whether that be promotion, survival or just consolidating. Over the spread of a season, no matter how badly your team play, there are those moments of beauty and excitement that keep you interested. As a Southampton fan, there have been plenty of highs and lows over the past five years. Witnessing relegations, cup wins and promotion, my interest in football is at the highest that it has ever been in my life.
Sadly, my interest in football, my love of the drama and excitement just doesn’t stretch into international football.
Having just watched England play Sweden at Wembley, my opinion on international football has just become more solidified. I just don’t care about it and there are many reasons why.
Firstly, the tempo of the game. For some reason international matches, particularly the one’s including England, are played at such a slow pace. There seems to be no urgency to get the ball forward and no urgency to score goals. Even football puritans will admit that they watch football to see goals scored. Why would anyone want to watch a nil-nil draw?
It isn’t just the lack of goals though. Even in the highest scoring, supposedly ‘most exciting’ games, I find myself so bored by the build-up play that, by the time the ball hits the net I have lost interest in the game. Take Bulgaria vs England as an example. England were 3 nil up before half time, a scoreline that in club football would have me jumping for joy. I was bored.
Back to today’s game. I felt myself pulling myself away from the game. I texted, I played games on my phone and generally did anything to distract myself from the game. England took the lead in the 22nd minute thanks to an own goal from Sweden centre-back Majstorovic. Did I celebrate? Nope. England, in particular Phil Jones and Jack Rodwell, missed two clear-cut chances to extend England’s lead before the half time break. Did I grimace at the misses? Nope. Sweden had a clear-cut chance to equalise in the last-minute. Would it have bothered me if they did equalise? Nope, I probably would have been pleased.
I was offered a ticket to today’s game. I am so glad I didn’t accept. I couldn’t justify paying the extortionate ticket pricing to go and see a team play boring football and generally frustrate me. I don’t like Wembley as a stadium either. It is a “soul-less bowl” that can’t carry an atmosphere. It offers wonderful views from all around, but the lack of atmosphere is frustrating. I stood behind the goal during Southampton’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win, where over 45,000 of Southampton’s finest fans couldn’t build an atmosphere. This was perhaps the only ground I have been to where Saints fans couldn’t get a song going.
Fans that travel to England games are frustrating. You see them on the television, sat there doing a mexican wave after 25 minutes of football. It’s clear they are as disinterested as I am! I have never seen a club teams fans start a Mexican wave, even when 5-1 up away from home on a Tuesday night. You would think that England fans are the pinnacle of football fans. Almost the “United States of England”, with the best of each club going along to support the national side. Evidently they are not.
I have just accepted that England’s fate as an international side bothers me but doesn’t really interest me. It winds me up that England’s side and the international game is so much more dull that the club game that I follow so closely. I think this might be me giving up on international football…