It's World Cup time and now is time to admit. I know nothing about football.
I can have a debate about football for hours and actually sound really knowledgeable, but in reality it's all absolute bullshit. So why's this? Well from the age of 7 I played rugby.
I played mini-rugby on a Sunday and school rugby on a Saturday. When I was 14 I started playing for Surrey and Southern Counties which meant I was playing 6 times a week pretty much for 4 years. In the summer I competed in Athletics and watched my first love cricket.
In short, Football passed me by. You can tell because my Panini sticker albums of which I have 3, are only about 2/3 full. Now, any little boy worth his salt completes his Panini sticker albums, even if it's just to satisfy the male collector gene, so this just goes to show how far off my radar it was.
It's funny really, my uncle was a Chelsea season ticket holder, but I didn't actually know that until I was 23. My Grandfather was a huge Arsenal fan, but my Dad was and is a rugby man through and through. So we spent our lives down the club.
However, once I left school my rugby playing days faltered. I had a gap year in which I played very little and then when I joined my university and went along to the club there, I was completely put off by the rugby boy element of it all. Funnily my home club wasn't a really 'rugby boy' type of club. I think it was probably because it was a very 'working class boys made good' type of club rather than the public school type atmosphere you tend to get alot of. Well in North Surrey where I played you do. So, when I met this bunch of wankers, I just thought, 'Nah I'll put it off for a year'. It effectively saw the end of my career.
That year I met a bunch of lads in two different houses. One from North Allerton, one from Sunderland, two from Chesterfield and one from Preston. Across the town in another house were my other friends, one from Northwich, two from Norwich and another from Leeds and then there was me from Lahhhhndon.
All of them were good Northern lads and what did we do. We sat and smoked weed and talked football for 3 years. Oh and cricket in the summer. I spent hours listening and gradually, by osmosis became an expert.
My Grandmother told me a story once. Shortly after she met my grandather they realised they had a mutual love of music. She had trained as a pianist at the Royal college of Music, he was a sheet music publisher at Boosey and Hawkes and part time boogie woogie session piano player.
My Grandmother was the youngest of 7 and the most cosseted (I have a story about that which I'll write one day) and spoilt child to walk the planet - something she freely admitted. When she realised she had piano in common she decided to play for my Grandfather. Sitting down she began her recital. After just a few seconds, her performance was met by howls of laughter. She was completely shocked. She'd been used to people telling her how, utterly fantastic she was all her life and here she was courting with a man who cried laughing at her piano skills. Indignantly she asked what was so funny and he replied 'You sound like you're playing all the notes in the right order, but you left your soul at the door'.
I don't know whether finding out about your relative's passions is a running theme in my family, but until my father and my uncle were in their late teens they didn't even realise my Grandfather played piano, he'd given the session playing up when they were young, to concentrate on the music business - something they both followed him in to - but they found out when they were at a party and someone asked him to play. By all accounts he was able to pick up any instrument and play and as i mentioned was the most astounding boogie woogie piano player. Unfortunately I never got to properly meet him as he died when I was 6, but he sounds like an amazing man. I digress.
I guess, my football knowledge is somewhat like my Grandmother's piano playing. I defeinitely know where all the notes are, but I just don't get the intricacies. I put it down to never having played and therefore not truly uderstanding the game. I have to rely on summaries and match reports to understand, who actually had a good game, unless of course it's blindingly obvious.
My contribution to the great striker abandonment debate, currently raging is somewhat useless really. I know what the options are, I understand the potential formations, but frankly I've no idea why it's a crap idea to have Gerrard playing just behind Owen in a 4411 and playing Carrick at the bottom of a diamond with Lampard at the top. However, if I had to argue about it with a 'died in the wool' footie fan I could sound like I knew what I was talking about for hours on end and I reckon I'd have pretty good bloke credentials at the end of it all.
All I really care about is us winning and I really think we've got a good chance.
Come on England!!
(Shit I've given myself away, haven't I)