Time was when rushing and kicking and screaming around the football field was the activity for the national winter sport. When the cricket season began it was a signal that summer had arrived and the howling mobs of winter soccer fans were relegated to quieteness for a few months whilst the flannelled fools established that unmistakable click of leather on willow followed by polite applause.
Sadly, with the advent of the Packer Test Cricket Matches the screaming fans have found their way onto the summer terraces echoing their winter counterparts.
What still distinguishes the two sets of fans, however, is the dress.
Winter scarves in the livery of the football team together with a bobble hat in suitable colours created a sea of colour from which the songs, many based upon hymn tunes, and chants would rise before giving way to throat-ripping screams as a possible goal approached.
Sun hats over a ruddy complexion from the beer consumed, together with the essential accessory of an umbrella, is what the avid cricket fan sports.
In a year of a football World Cup our relatively peaceful summer is hijacked by the screaming hoards. Everywhere is evidence of their presence; the flags draped around shoulders; the fluttering flags on cars and the unmistakable renaming of this fair land, now called, ‘Ing-ger-laaaand’ until the 10th July when cricket is permitted to return, and the football population pontificate about how, ‘We was robbed’, of victory.
What I find utterly bewildering is the number of players who comprise a team. In my childhood each team had 11 players and some reserves. Now the streets and pubs are full of players in England team shirts. Observing the physique of most of the these ‘team players’ explains why England seldom win the world cup. They are some of the most unhealthy couch sloths imaginable. It has been pointed out to me that they are not team players but 'supporters'. I am led by this information to ponder the motivation for the ‘dressing up’ and the thought that these sad fans could ever be mistaken for a Beckham or a Gazza.
When I entertain at children’s fancy dress birthday parties I have been known to dress up as a character, in the line of duty of course, and certainly the little ones play at being Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Buzz Lightyear.
Recently, whilst purchasing a military costume for a performing job, the Army Surplus shop assistant informed me that his biggest sales were at Christmas and New Year adult fancy dress parties.
What is the emotional age of these adults who parade themselves in England football kit I wonder? Moreover, what is going on when these most unfit people sport the name of a particular player upon their shirt. Just who do think they are kidding? I can understand hero worship amongst the young, emulating a pop or sporting idol. The young still have the potential to become like their hero, but the lumbering beer-gutted middle-aged man??
Please . . .