Ever since I was a boy I have had a dream that one day I'd be good enough to finally get to Wembley Stadium and burn it to the ground. Simply put, I hate football. I think it's the worst thing that's ever happened. How can something that anti-social and violent be so paint-dryingly dull?
I have only watched one footsie match from beginning to end. I didn't want to, obviously, but I was persuaded to by my two footsie fan friends who were watching the match in a pub near my house. I wanted to drink. They were there. I had to watch a match.
It was Liverpool vs AC Milan in the final of the 2005 UEFA Champions League Cup. No. I don't know what that is either. I mean, I know what a cup is but other than that it was all a mystery. The only thing that I was certain about was that I hated football and I was guaranteed to suffer one of the most boring nights of my life. Oh, how wrong I was. My two friends are such fans of Liverpool FC that they were even born in Liverpool and at the end of the first half AC Milan had scored 3 goals and Liverpool had completely forgotten to score any. God, I laughed SO MUCH. Looking at these two stupid fucking thick cunts (my friends) getting really upset over a tedious game was brilliant. Maybe this is my sport? I can go to stadiums and watch men look sad over ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Or pay Sky a fortune to subscribe to their "Disappointed Lads" package of channels? For every tear, I let out a cheer! (Hey! That's almost a chant!) Then the second half started and I settled down with my beer so that we could both enjoy another 45 minutes of laughing at two useless awful twats (my friends).
Liverpool scored 3 goals and it was now a draw.
FUCKING HELL! I was totally sucked in. It was one of the greatest dramas I have ever seen. Liverpool, the underdogs, have turned the whole thing round. They had nothing, NOTHING, in the first half and now they're focused, they're united, they're a fucking force to be reckoned with and all that came from nowhere... FROM NOTHING. It was like watching an eagle having the bandages removed from its once broken wing and seeing it soar. It's gone from 3-0 to 3-3. There's a chance Liverpool could win, I thought. Liverpool could win! WE could win!
The game went to penalties. The final score was 3-3 but, due to a rule that I fear I will never understand, Liverpool FC won 3-2. Holy fucking shit. It was amazing. The pub cheered. It rose to its feet. I cheered and jumped around with them. I hugged my friends (the lovely cunts) and we drank and we cheered and we cheered some more. Both friends crying, they'd seen their team all the way to this match. This Champions League final. And they saw their men come so far to be kicked, battered and demoralised in 45 minutes... Saving the very best to last. I had electricity belting through my bones at the end of that match so I can only imagine how they felt as their team captain lifted the cup. OK, I admitted. I get football now. I understand.
They turned to me and said "Never ever watch another football match. They'll never come close to that".
And that was that. I had finally got footsie and already I was told to hang my boots up.
In the last 10 years, I've been firmly back to my position of hating football. My friends were right. Nothing will come close to that Liverpool win. Every time I see it, I'm bored senseless. I hate the money involved, the players, the fans, the sponsorship, the hatred of women... All of it. And with that loathing in mind, former comedian Mark Watson asked me to get involved in his 27 Hour Show, raising money for Comic Relief, and he suggested I tackle football. Watch a match every day from 1st Feb until Red Nose Day and blog/tweet about it. People like seeing me sad or angry so it might raise a couple of quid for a good cause. So, I accept the challenge. I am going to watch football every day until Red Nose Day. I will talk to footsie fans, I will learn the rules, I will watch it on TV, I will go to matches... Fuck it, I'll even play a game. I will hate every second of it but I'll do it.
So... to my first match.
1st Feb was a day I had to spend with my family so I decided to skip that day but start a day early also, just to make up for it. On Saturday, I watched Chelsea vs Manchester City.
As the day wore on, I started to feel a bit sick. A month of football? A MONTH? And it hasn't started yet. It hasn't begun and I feel sick and scared and alone already. Alone was OK though. That was actually the good part. If I'm going to get this horrible month to build then I better start small. Just me. Alone. Watching a... (dry throat)... Match.
I phoned my local pub to ask if they were screening the match. It was like I had decided to just call a random person in Japan and wing speaking Japanese to them. Fuck it, I've heard some of those sounds. I can do it. How hard can it be? "Are you showing the Chelsea match tonight?", I said in a voice that went deeper on it's own. It was like I didn't trust myself with those words so my voice just naturally compensated for my lack of manliness. The person on the other end of the phone let out a heavy sigh and said "Yes, we can do that for you".
I DON'T FUCKING WANT YOU TO. THIS ISN'T MY IDEA. IT'S CUNTING LENNY HENRY MAKING ME DO HIS FUCKING DIRTY WORK FOR HIM. I don't want you to screen the fucking match. Don't get arsey about it. Just say no and we'll both be happy and I can just lie and say I watched it and tell everyone how jolly exciting the whole thing was.
But I did watch the match.
It was tedious.
In many ways this really was the perfect start. Alone, watching a game I didn't understand with the sound off and no subtitles. It meant I had no choice but to just watch and try to figure it all out. It was impossible, like staring at a brick wall and trying to guess what it's thinking. Kick. Kick. Pass. Kick. Pass. Kick. Kick. Fall a bit. Kick. Pass. Kick. Flag. That was what I watched. For ages. I didn't know what was going on or who anyone was. Then, 30-odd minutes in, the camera closes in on a player's face and his name appears on the screen. "John Terry". Ah, John Terry. I've heard of him. So he must be a cunt. I've said it before but if it wasn't for violence against minorities, I'd never know a thing about football.
Years later, the game ended on a 1-1 draw and absolute indifference from the world. Basically, nothing happened. That didn't stop three men going into hysterical analysis on nothing after the match on Sky Sports, of course. But, hey, I can't let my first match of this torture month be a negative experience. The whole point of all this is for me to learn to love footsie. So, what can I say about it positively.
The gardener does a good job. He does, doesn't he? That grass was lovely and neat and green. Does the gardener ever get any recognition? To be fair, the sound was off so those three men getting excited on Sky Sports could have been talking about the grass and I don't blame them. It was lovely. So, if anyone knows who does the gardening for football, let them know I'm a huge fan.
Of course, I can't go much further with this if I don't know how footsie is played so today I'm watching Match Of The Day, a sort of Loose Women for pricks, today with my Dad. He can explain everything. One match done. Will I make it? I'm not completely sure. Still only 4 weeks to go.
RED NOSE DAY IS IN 6 WEEKS? Ah, fuck....
I set my target at £500. Although I've already hit it, please keep donating. It will be a horrible month for me so that should make you a little bit happy. So PAY UP: http://my.rednoseday.com/sponsor/michaellegge