I can see no reason at all for this rather odd sight of spectators at today’s football match turning their back on Newcastle United women’s no. 21, Maisie Cole. Except that there was a game on the other pitch below. Mind you, as the game between Newcastle and Brighouse was 0-0, they didn’t miss much.
Going to see a football match is such a simple, harmless thing, and no one is compelled to do it. Our Glorious Leader and some associated bureaucrats, desperate to deflect blame away from the fact they’ve all been promoted above their level of competence, are desperate to take this pleasure away. Region is being played off against region, town against town, neighbour against neighbour even, and simple, harmless things are suddenly not so simple any more. What a farce all this has been, and a no-deal Brexit still to come.
This is about half an hour before kick off at Atherton Collieries’ very fine little ground, by the way. The hosts were smiling at the end — the scoreboard read 5-0 by full time.
I’m not a ‘mask shamer’. There are plenty of people out there who for one reason or another can’t wear one, particularly not for any length of time, and everyone else just needs to live with that fact. But all the same, this signage did make me laugh.
I like straightforward signage like this: though as should also be apparent, in this case, it was giving false information. The football ground, with its backdrop of very heavy industry, is that of Runcorn Town.
Travelling abroad may be curtailed at the moment but there’s still plenty of my own country I haven’t seen and going to football matches on Saturday afternoons is, as far as I am concerned, as good a way to see it as any. The village of Steeton, near Keighley, provides a picturesque backdrop to the warm-up exercises of the visiting Avro FC. I like the contrasting colours and the impressive house that pops up above the trees at the top.
Everything has become so messed up during the Great Fear that standing in a field on a glorious, sunny day with a couple of dozen other people is now considered less ‘safe’ than, say, driving down the M1 or operating heavy machinery. But I still welcome the return of some level of competitive sport, something this country (and others) misses more than it realises. My first football match for 147 days, or 21 weekends, and the first pre-season friendly for Oxenhope Recreation FC, the guys in orange, against Keighley Athletic. I guess it’s about a 50/50 chance whether the season to come will actually be finished, but for now, I don’t care.
For most of the teams in England, this weekend should have marked the end of the football season. For me, this started back on June 21st in Anglesey, but seeing as the only anti-COVID strategy anyone could think of involved killing off most of what gave life meaning, it was ended, along with everything else, after March 14th. What remnants of grass-roots sport will be left when the paranoia finally lifts and we realise that in the long run, for our survival as a functioning society, we have to get outside again — that is still to be seen.
I said a few days ago that when one is imprisoned, the arrival of the mail assumes a new significance. I greet the arrival of this magazine with pleasure every month, but this one is particularly poignant: it’s 32 days since there was last any football played in Britain (my last game was at Blackpool on March 14th) and who knows what state the local game will be in when all this is finally over. When Saturday Comes has been going for over three decades now, so let’s hope it survives, at least.