It’s amazing how things can pass down through generations, isn’t it?
I remember some strange feelings towards football as a formative teenager and many of these pecularities stemmed from simply being at a game on a Saturday afternoon. I was at home when I went to football and being part of a collective group mattered to me.
The thought of actually missing games filled me with dread. There was a feeling of self-loathing and guilt that used to follow me around in the days leading up to a match that I knew I couldn’t get to.
It is a feeling that has never really gone away.
I was never going to be able to do Tranmere away on Tuesday. I hate missing away games simply because work dictates that I have to do so but I have little choice at the moment especially as I’m now working for myself on a fully-fledged basis.
So when my son called me on Monday night and asked what time the coach was leaving, I had to explain that we weren’t going to be on it.
“Sorry – Too much work on, Son. We don’t miss many. You’re just going to have to swallow this one.”
“It’s Tranmere, Dad. They’ve got that nice pub and it’s the best away end in the league.”
Yes! I felt guilty. But I didn’t budge.
“I can’t do it, Son. I’m sorry.”
I could almost hear him trudging away from the phone after he hung up. I felt awful, but needs must!
I settled down and looked at the gathering mountain of paperwork in front of me and then it suddenly dawned on me. My lad was going through that feeling I had previously experienced when I couldn’t make games at his age.
He’d be going through the turmoil of knowing fellow supporters would notice his absence. He’d be aware of the fact that the players would just KNOW he wasn’t there when they came to clap the fans at the end of the game. He’d know that an incomplete season with a black mark against ‘Tranmere Away’ would make the other 50-odd games he was likely to attend completely irrelevent.
My son was turning into what I used to be, and I hated myself for it!
I buried myself in work for the next day and a half and tried a couple of calls to my lad just to check on his well-being. His phone continued to ring unanswered throughout this period.
At 8.30pm on Tuesday evening, I left my desk to check the latest score on teletext. Still 0-0. At least it looked like we weren’t missing too much! A few moments later my phone rang. It was my lad.
“Still 0-0, Son. We’re not exactly missing a classic!”
“‘I’m in Tranmere, Dad. I’ve met up with Brian and gone on the coach with him!”
UNBELIEVABLE! I’m sat with the equivalent of Mount Everest in front of me and my lad is at the game with my bloody mate and nobody has bothered to tell me!
It turns out that my lad and one of my best mates are friends on FaceBook and talk to each other regularly. While I’m grafting myself into unconsciousness, my lad and my pal are sneaking around behind my back going to games that I simply don’t have the time to attend.
But I’m grateful. I now know that his unblemished record, for this season at least, will continue. He’s delighted to be there and my mate is apologetic for not letting me know sooner. It was a late decsion and I never answer my phone anyway! The feeling of betrayal soon made way for the fact that I was at least being represented by proxy and my lad was there giving the team some support on my behalf.
I went back to work at least half-happy, but felt gutted when a text arrived telling me that Jabo Ibehre had put us one-up on 81 minutes. It almost felt as if my wife had just been given the ultimate orgasm by a close friend and ally while I’d been too busy to notice through my own neglect. I will be having words with both parties before the Colchester game on Saturday! I’m just glad she hates football and my son never talks about orgasms anyway!
So my son is stll a 100% attendee this season, including several low-profile friendlies that he just had to attend! I’m now just a bit-part player in a season that will always have that black mark of ‘Tranmere Away’ against my own record.
Friends and kids! Who bloody needs ’em?