Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blogathon: Why I love football

Here it is then. The end.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed here and on Twitter.

Thanks to everyone who had donated to Alzheimer Scotland and/or the Homeless World Cup.

OK.

It's been quite a 24 hours. I've confused myself with some of the debating angles I've taken.

I've celebrated five happy Hearts memories and I've tried to sell Hearts to potential new owners.

And I've been left genuinely bamboozled by the support I've received on Twitter, by email and, of course, for the Homeless World Cup and Alzheimer Scotland.

(Donations still most gratefully received so please keep them coming.)

So I'm rounding off with some positivity. @Linton1388 suggested this as I approached the final furlong.

Why I love football.

If I've not shared this story before then I'm amazed. If I have I apologise.

When I was eight I played in goals for very bad football team. I was coached by Airdrie legend John Martin. Who was, in the nicest possible way, aff his heid.

One day I saved two penalties in one game. I would barely call myself a moderate footballer. But saving those penalties felt fantastic.

So good that I still speak about it today. And conveniently forget I let in seven goals.

Things like that are why I love football.

Standing at Hampden as Murdo McLeod lifted the League Cup and all the agony and anguish of a shitty couple of years lifted from us Hibs fans.

Watching as Hibs beat Dundee United at Tynecastle to reach the 1993 league cup semi final. The last game I went to with my grandad.

Memories like that are why I love football.

Missing a great chunk of a derby day defeat at Tynecastle because we were, frankly, having a better time in the pub.

Waking up with the hangover from hell the day after Hibs beat Kilmarnock in the League Cup final and the hangover lifting as I remembered just why I'd got so drunk.

That's why I love football.

Because this is Scottish football and we know we're crap and people laugh at us or ignore us.

And yes, we have problems, we have bampots, we have hatred, we have incompetence, we have neglect.

But, you know what, they're our clubs, they're our players.

They're our memories of Gordon Smith and Laurie Reilly, Dave McKay and Willie Bauld, Jock Stein and Jimmy Johnstone, Matt Busby and Dennis Law, John Greig and Jim Baxter, Ally McLeod and Archie Gemmill.

That's why I love Scottish football.

Because Hibs are Hibs. And they're frustrating. And they win some and they lose some and sometimes they treat us like crap.

But I can still go with my mates and my family. We can moan, argue, think the referee is an idiot, the manager a plonker and the chairman a miser.

And then we can go to the pub and drown our sorrows, remember it's just a game, take a trip down memory lane and pick ourselves up and start again.

That's why I love football.

Because I worked at the Homeless World Cup in Edinburgh in 2005 and I saw football taking hold of imaginations and people's confidence and respect returning over the course of a few games, no matter if they were won or lost.

That's why I love football.

Because we can - most of us - support different teams but still have a laugh together and be mates.

That's why I love football.

Because sometimes you see a player like Franck Sauzee, or Russell Latapy, or our own Chic Charnley and think that this is a simple game when you have the skill to master it. A simple, beautiful game.

That's why I love football.

Because I can still remember getting my full Scotland replica kit for the 1986 World Cup.

Because I can still see John Collins wheeling toward the crowd as that penalty hit the back of the net against Brazil in 1998.

Because I can still hear the singing of the crowd before the 1999 play-off game v England.

That's why I love football.

Because football is the "thread that binds us." And when you see the work of Alzheimer Scotland's Football Memories project you will know that phrase deserves to be more than a glib marketing slogan.

That's why I love football.

Because people I know and people I've never met have given their time, effort, support and money to this blogathon.

Because they've bought into a simple idea. That football can change lives.

That's why I love football.

Click here to make a donation to Homeless World Cup or Alzheimer Scotland - your help is really appreciated

Donate to the blogathon's Homeless World Cup fund by text: just text DXVR87 and the amount you want to donate to 70070

Donate to the blogathon's Alzheimer Scotland fund by text: just text APJB49 and the amount you want to donate to 70070

Join the blogathon on Twitter: #fitbablether