‘Unseemly Expensive Football Adventure’ (UEFA)

The impending UEFA final is like the equivalent of a long car journey filled with a continual dialogue of, “Are we there yet?”

No. Not quite. But nearly…

Although to be fair, I am re-living the Amsterdam trip on a daily basis via his numerous iPhone footage and every bit of tv coverage from the match. (My Sky planner is full of it.)

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I swear he has re-watched this more than our wedding highlights.

“Doll, we were down and out. It was one of the greatest comebacks in European football.”

It’s like a broken record. And I know every song. (How do they all learn them? Who sits down and writes these ditties?)

It’s completely my own fault though. I knew what I was in for when marrying him (see earlier blog for more info).

Spurs is his addiction and who am I to stand in his way. (Trust me, he would throw me overboard faced with a decision of making it to Madrid or saving his wife.)

He comes from a family of Spurs season ticket holders. As does my dad, who regaled me with wonderful stories of going to matches. In 1946, my grandpa Davis bought up a row of season tickets for the men in the family, at the hefty price of five guineas each. Block L, High Road entrance. On match days, Grandpa, his brother, my dad and his three cousins would jump on the 102 bus from Muswell Hill to Angel Edmonton and then walk a couple of miles down High Road to the ground.

The first UEFA cup was in 1971 so there was very little European travel for dad, but a big memory for him would be the FA Cup semi final in 1948 – Spurs vs Blackpool. On a train packed full of loyal supporters, headed up to Villa Park to watch Spurs lose 3-1. If that wasn’t bad enough, he remembers his Thermos of tea leaking all over his cheese sandwiches.

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Top notch branded goods

Spurs have suffered some pretty dismal losses over the years, so hopefully they are on to a winning streak. When they made it to the recent UEFA semi finals, my husband had pretty much mentally booked the flight to Amsterdam before the first crestfallen Man City supporter had left the ground.

As a woman, I would have approached this process very differently: first, check for accommodation. Then look into flights.

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But no. Husband booked the flight first and where to sleep (if at all) came a very delayed second action point. He genuinely didn’t seem to care if he slept at the airport. There are grown men without accommodation, buying up blow up beds to take with them to Madrid. Lunatics.

And the tickets? You haven’t even got a ticket yet ffs!

“Doll. Relax. I’ll get one.”

To be fair, he had been in a similar situation before…

World Cup 2002. Japan.

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“Sayōnara doll”

He’s just as passionate about his country’s team and managed to round up two like-minded souls, announcing,

“Doll, I’m going to Japan for a couple of days.”

Oh, how I laughed. No-one does that. It’s lunacy.

But off he went. Filled with hope and ‘possibly’ some medication that his travel buddy had given him, to ease the pain of travelling in economy for eleven and a half hours. (He’s 6 foot 4 – the legroom situation is agonising for him.)

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They landed in Narita, exited the airport, stuck their bank card in some dubious World Cup ticket machine and crossed their fingers. It was a big risk – they had booked a package deal via their hotel which included flights, accommodation and apparently, tickets to the game.

As if by some FIFA miracle, their match tickets popped out! There was much celebration, but it was short lived. Michael Owen did his best, but England were knocked out after that first match.

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It’s not quite coming home

But back to the pending Madrid trip.

Fellow fans who didn’t make it to the ‘Dam are fully on board for this, the final leg. Once again, flights were secured before even worrying about tickets. Let alone what it was clashing with..

This weekend I know of birthday parties, sweet 16’s, weddings, bar mitzvahs… this is majorly testing many friendships. As a guest it’s hard enough, but imagine if it’s your own do!

I clearly remember a friend’s wedding.

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Jackie O’s chupah, by Birch Event Designs. Both fun Instagram follows

All that planning. The attention to detail. As the groom walked down the aisle towards the chupah, he looked so nervous and full of hope. As he reached his bride to be, leaned in to his best man and whispered, “What’s the score?”

FA Cup Quarter final Chelsea vs Spurs. 10th March 2002. Spurs got beat 4-0. It was still a great wedding.

So, as this weekend approaches, the lucky ones among them are flying direct to Madrid, but not everyone has such a simple route. There are different levels of superfan heading to Spain…

Planes: Flights to Malaga followed by a short drive.

Trains: Eurostar to Paris followed by a drive.

Automobiles: Driving from London. Without a ticket.

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I mean, good luck. Good f’ing luck to them. It’s an experience. And I quote: “the biggest club competition you can be in. Liverpool have won it five times. Spurs have been nowhere near.” End quote. (Husband dearest.)

‘Audere est Facere’ as the shirt declares. “To Dare Is to Do”.

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And while he dares, I will do. Making sure there is a celebratory/consolatory bit of grub upon return. I made this recipe when he arrived home from Amsterdam. And it went down well. I now call it my ‘lucky drip beef recipe’….

Fingers crossed it works second time round.Unknown-7.jpeg

x

 

 

Be a Good Sport…

On my first date with my husband (Silks & Spice, Camden), he casually mentioned in conversation that he was ‘into sport’. Alarm bells should have rung, but it was only through marriage and a shared custody of a Sky remote control, that I truly realised the extent to which ‘into sport’ actually meant.

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Silks & Spice sadly no longer open. Marriage still going strong. 

I’m quite aware that most of my life revolves around a sporting event. For example:

Me: “We’re going over to friends tomorrow for tea.”

Husband: “What time?”

Me: “Why?” (I know full well why.)

Husband: “(*insert seasonal sport here*) is on tv. If they haven’t got it on in the background, I’m going home.”

My social butterfly…

 

 

Thinking back, my first birth gave a clear indication of life as a sports widow.

Around 2am on the 14th September 2006, my husband found me at the foot of our bed, curled over a giant gym ball thingy, declaring, “I give up.’

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I think I was doing it wrong. Photo Credit: Rooted for Life

A couple of nights previous we’d had a false alarm, so once the hospital staff had finished prodding me and were satisfied that I was definitely in labour this time, husband decided we were in it for the long haul and proper arrangements needed to be made.

He even managed to schmooze the nurses into dragging a camp bed into the room for him. Tiring for the men, after all…Unknown-11.jpeg

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‘Comfty’, as my youngest says

Around 15 hours later, my beautiful daughter was born and whilst dizzy from both the epidural and the fact that she wasn’t a boy, I will always remember that soft green glow as I was wheeled back into the room…

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I always favour a v-neck

 

No. It wasn’t the staff in their scrubs.

It was the green haze from the football pitch on the tv screen as my husband held our daughter, experiencing her first game of many, whilst cradled in daddy’s arms, lying on the camp bed. (Ah, now I could see the urgency of the camp bed.)

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Not actual husband. Or daughter

I looked on in marvel at the thing next to me, peaceful, calm, content.

And that was just my husband. He even remembers the game. (Of course he does.Unknown-11.jpeg)

UEFA Cup – West Ham vs Palermo fact fans.

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Actual footage 14.9.06

I’m not a particularly sporty person, safe to say I’m not really sporty at all. I like the gym, Pilates, a friendly game of badminton or table tennis. Even basketball, but only if it’s at the funfair and involves winning a bag of candy floss.

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Yum. Get in my belly…

I just have zero interest in reliving my ‘wing attack’ days at school and joining a ladies league of netball.

No offence to those who do this pursuit for pleasure or professionally…plenty of my female friends are loving this release on a weekday evening – it’s just not for me. In fact, massive props to the England Netball Team who recently thrashed to receive gold at the Commonwealth Games.

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So emotional.. as I watch from the sofa.

Before I get trolled and bashed on social media for dividing the sexes, lots of female friends watch and attend just as many games as their other halves on a regular basis and have done since a very young age. (Even funnier when rival husband and wives are at the same match. You know who you are…)

But going back to base levels, I’ve been through alot recently. Alot.

Darts. Done. (He threatens to take me every year. FYI, I would go.)

Olympics. Done.

Cricket. Done.

Golf. Done. (Although I secretly quite like watching The Masters because:

A) the clapping and birdsong is so calming

and

B) my usually 9pm-watershed husband is actually still lucid at midnight

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So relaxing

So, to all of my football widow friends – we’ve performed really well this season, with limber checks on our phones for match updates and team support over whose evening will be the most ruined due to a match loss.

Just a few weeks to go and it will all be over  Unknown-9.jpeg

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…I’ve just been gently reminded that the World Cup starts in under two months.

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I think I might take up netball for the summer…

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ps. Good luck to everyone participating in tomorrow’s London MarathonUnknown-10.jpeg(I’ll be watching. From my sofa.)