Stopping in Midstream: Coping with the Half Season Break
Half season breaks are a good idea. Pitches can rest, teams like Buriram and Chonburi can catch up on fixtures and tournaments like the upcoming Under 22 Asian Championship can be properly prepared for. Lower league games continue, allowing smaller local clubs to get bigger crowds and swell their coffers. But it’s purgatory for the fans. Football seasons create rhythms within rhythms. The fixture list offers days to be hammered down and negotiated with long suffering Significant Others, whilst match days contain routines and timings of where to meet, where to eat and where to greet opposition fans. These routines evolve incrementally through the season, creating ever lengthening match day rituals. A stadium coffee shop stop becomes a prelude to the beers and cheers, making arriving at the ground two hours before kick off appear an act of treason by a part time fan.
The First Football Free Saturday. Made worse by a rocking Wednesday night game to end the first half of the season, only seventy two hours later the chasm opens. The question is; how far will you go? I always try to support my sons, but the tournament this Saturday has a strangely psychiatric function of coming down from the previous games. Watching a game but stripped of the pre, mid and post match beers (well, the first two at least) helps to go through the football motions. Then, filling the half season gap with friendlies, charity games and watching training is tempting. But whilst convincing a sceptical wife that a visit to a heaving stadium for a big match has merit, requests to assess how your club’s under 12s are shaping up receives a sub arctic reception.
Some take a complete break from the game, throwing themselves into family adventures, long put off chores and exciting new experiences. This is a brave and ultimately futile gesture. You become short tempered and inconsiderate, forced to vocalise sentences you’d rather keep silent. ” The trial match started ten minutes ago,” whilst enjoying a candlelit dinner or, “I could be at the stadium in my favorite stand watching that lacrosse game.” The beauty of these sentiments is their utter indefensibility. The trial match will be a gentle kick around without officials and lacrosse is a game I have no idea about. It’s better for the family to leave well alone, especially with sound advice like, “you always complained about the traffic from games. Now you won’t need to.”
The constant drip of Twitter feed, Facebook and texts are pin pricks preventing full recovery. Someone Tweets from their bedroom that Raul is arriving to sign for your local club and the fact there is no basis of truth becomes irrelevant. You need to pursue the story to its ultimately futile conclusion as, like a fisherman with no bait, something has to bite by the law of averages.
Walking around a stadium in a half season break is like a school during its holidays. Robbed of all the energy and movement it was designed for, it becomes somehow less than the sum of its parts. The noise and movement were the smoke and mirrors that distracted you from dodgy building specs and half finished projects. Now in silent ignominy, it becomes just another building, only a little sadder. But then a rogue fan walks by, notices you share the same madness and, with the exchange of songs and knowing looks, the facade is gleefully restored.
My advice? Follow Oscar Wilde. Resist everything… except temptation.