Real Life

By Kite, Melissa | The Spectator, May 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

Real Life


Kite, Melissa, The Spectator


'We hate Tottenham!' If they had shouted it once they had shouted it 100 times. I wasn't sure why, as we were watching Chelsea v. Basel. But I knew enough about a girl's place at a football match not to turn to my male companion and ask what would no doubt turn out to be a stupid question.

I love going to Stamford Bridge, just every now and then, you understand. I know nothing about any of it. I have never claimed to understand the offside rule. But every so often, when a male friend invites me, I dust off my Chelsea shirt. I find the action on and off the pitch affords one the most fascinating glimpse into human behaviour.

In the past, I have had to sit in the corporate seats because that is where the ex-broker boyfriend always sat. I would grin and bear it but it wasn't up to much. Tired businessmen in suits used to walk out after 20 minutes if they thought the game wasn't going their way.

Now the broker boyfriend is long gone and I get brought to games by a friend who has season tickets for the Matthew Harding Stand.

This is more like it. It is frowned upon here even to sit down. At kick-off, an enormous flag gets passed back, covering about a hundred heads at a time. When we disappeared under it, I suppressed the urge to complain about claustrophobia. 'Also, ' I wanted to say, but didn't, 'this is obscuring my view quite a bit.' But the flag passed over eventually and we could see the pitch again. And before long, all the men around me were shouting comments I didn't understand. 'Poor ball!' yelled my friend. 'Poor!' I shouted. 'Oh great ball!'

he yelled a few minutes later. 'Great ball!' I agreed.

Every time a player from the opposite side fell down we had to yell 'Get up, you (insert insult)!' Every time one of ours fell down we had to shout: 'Book him!' 'Book him!'

I yelled. I think I would have yelled 'Hang him!' or 'Crucifixion!' or 'Release Roger!'

if that was what the others were yelling.

In the seat behind me, another girl was not doing so well: 'Why do we keep shouting, we hate Tottenham?' she asked. Her boyfriend and the man standing next to him burst out laughing. 'Well, it's not obvious, is it?' she persevered. 'I mean, I don't have the context. …

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