Inspired by Airbornevillan’s piece, I could only agree and also add my own take on what has already been said.
Whether it’s from quite a few years of being depressed (and not talking about it to anyone), I’ve found I forget things incredibly easily. Sometimes a name, sometimes a face so blindingly obvious, it’s just ridiculous. Sometimes it’s a little scary when that information finally pops into my brain.
Yet football. Well. I’ll remember scores, players, refs, fans, who I went with, what we did, all down to smallest detail. All over the last 35 years of going to games.
I often refer to the Cleveland Browns guy in the “Factory of Sadness” video. Everything he says rings true, especially when you’ve witnessed the majority of garbage served up over the last ten years. But despite everything, the last thing he says is “I’ll see you Sunday”. Because no matter what, as a loyal football supporter, you go back if circumstances allow.
I remember sitting at work in April 2015 when things were getting unbearable. It was the time when that van was inches away from wiping me off my bike, followed by me realising that actually it wouldn’t have been a bad thing for everything to have ended right there. For four years now I’ve lived with these thoughts and still do so, daily.
I received a call at work. I was told that me and my lad would have a ticket each for the Cup Final against Arsenal, even though we didn’t have Season Tickets that year and had only been to about 15 games. The emotion was overwhelming. When so much was going against me, I had a guy looking out for me, someone who had almost been a father figure growing up, replacing the one I never had a chance to grow up with.
That is football. It’s what it can do. I live it all, the highs and the lows. Sometimes if I’m struggling during the week, I’ll focus on who we are playing next or relive some of the stuff that happened at the last game. I’m lucky my lad has stuck with Villa, because until recently, all he’s ever known is us being absolutely awful.
Now, on the back of a ten game winning streak, the whole club looks in a really good place, everyone is smiling, and my boy is enjoying it with me. The atmosphere at games is just brilliant. When Dean Smith walked in, and the club revealed we now actually had a plan, I knew things were taking a turn for the better, even through the tough days of January and February.
Whilst football can’t solve everything for me (or anyone else) I know it’s a big psychological help when I really need it. After a wonderful football break last weekend, the reality of a week back at work, and a couple of work colleagues started to take its toll. I just kept it positive by thinking of everything we did over that weekend, the two wins, people we met, everything that was good.
The power of football, and especially the Villa. Hopefully thats the case for other fellow Villans too.