Monday, 28 September 2015

Arsenal in Crisis?

With Arsenal set to resume their Champions League campaign tomorrow, here's a piece I wrote about their 'crisis' after losing their first match against Dinamo Zagreb.

Where Does Arsenal's Champions League Fate Lie?

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Perils of Taking a Four Year Old to Football

This season I have started to take the boy to football matches. We’ve been to a few local non-league clubs so that he can get a feel of what going to the football is like. I felt it was important that he grew up thinking that football is something you go to rather than just watch on TV. I have already convinced him to be a Forest fan so I also see non-league football of a good way of showing that football isn’t just about the likes of Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo.

Our latest match was a visit to Middle Road – or as it has just been renamed, The Taxi Link Community Sports Ground – home of Shoreham FC aka the Musselmen. This was our second time watching Shoreham but this game had the added glamour of being in the FA Cup. The visitors were Eastbourne Town who had beaten Shoreham earlier in the week in a league cup match so revenge was surely in the minds of the home side.

Another reason why I have chosen to take the boy to non-league matches first is that at four years old it is unlikely that he would want to sit still for 90 minutes, whatever the standard of football on show. One of the many attractions of non-league football is that you can move around the ground. You can also drink beer on the terraces all through the match. These two plus points make both me and my son very happy.

As far as the match was concerned, Shoreham didn’t start very well and an awful goalkeeping error saw Eastbourne take the lead fairly early on before adding another before half time. Apparently it was another defensive mistake that led to the goal but I am unable to confirm that as I was taking the boy to the clubhouse toilet at the time. This wasn’t the last piece of crucial action we would miss.

After a half time break spent watching the latest scores in the bar we emerged for the second half not that confident that Shoreham would be extending their FA Cup journey this season. But the team seemed reinvigorated and soon scored a great goal with an assist from man mountain Melford Simpson who had come on as a sub (apologies to the actual goal scorer whose name I don’t know yet – it’s only my second game!). Shoreham were looking far more threatening with the young – make that VERY young – left winger posing as much problems as anyone for the Eastbourne defence.

With only minutes to go – and after repeated earlier questioning – the boy revealed that he desperately needed the toilet again. Under duress we went back into the clubhouse. While we were there we heard a cheer. Shoreham had scored. “How do you know its Shoreham daddy?” the boy asked as he sat on the toilet. At this level you don’t get many away fans so any kind of cheer meant that Shoreham had scored I explained. My point was doubly proven as we went back onto the terraces. It looked as if Eastbourne had scored again as Shoreham were restarting the match. We had heard no cheer but thanks to a couple of toilet trips we had managed to miss three goals and Shoreham were out of the FA Cup, losing 3-2 in added on time.

We have also been to see Southwick and plan to visit Whitehawk soon but I do have a bit of a soft spot for Shoreham now as the home of the boy’s first football match. Hopefully next time we will plan the toilet breaks better but we will be back soon.