That big day

With apologies to Jasper Carrott.

It was on a Sunday morning that to Hillsborough we did roam.
I hadn’t got a ticket, so I had to stay at home*.
I loaded up with tele snacks and several crates of beer.
I chucked a toilet roll at next door’s cat for atmosphere.

A nice, uneventful Sheffield United win would be perfect. But local derbies don’t always go that way, of course…

And just as a note, yesterday’s was an interesting evening. I’m just putting that here to remind me to tell you about it.

 

* Actually going to a friend’s house to watch it on his imax style tv.

Derby

And thus, I find myself in Sheffield at the time of the Steel City Derby. This, in case you were unaware, is the name given to any football match between The Mighty Sheffield United and our porcine neighbours Sheffield Wednesday.
It’s been a while since the last one, because the teams have been in different divisions in the football league. However, with United’s promotion last time out, the derby is back on, and it’s big news. And yes, it’s great for the city, but I can’t help but feel that the media frenzy around this particular episode has gone a bit over the top. As media frenzy is wont to do.

Obviously – obviously – I want United to win. But as time has gone on, I have to admit that the results of these sort of big games have become less important to me. I’m old enough to have seen many Steel City Derbies. I’ve seen us win some, I’ve seen us lose some, and – and hold onto your seats here, folks – I’ve seen some draws as well. Incredible.

And yet – no matter the scoreline in these games – football, life, friendships (even with those from the other lot), and the constant threat of nuclear apocalypse all continue.

It’s not that it doesn’t matter. Of course it matters. It matters a lot and for those 90 minutes, there will be nothing else on my mind. (In fact, there is a part of my mind that is nagging away at me, suggesting that maybe it actually matters too much and that’s why I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not bothered.)

It’s just that when it’s over, there will still also be other things that matter. Whatever the result, I will still support Sheffield United. Other (weird, misguided) individuals will still support the other team. Workplace banter, which has peaked in the run-up to the game, will slowly decline again. Life will continue.

And then in January, we’ll do it all over again (but I’ll be back in Cape Town for that one).

Mind the gap!

Early days (well, day) in the Championship league of English football, but the gap between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday is just about as big as it could be. And we’re the ones out in front*.

A Billy Sharp header 39 minutes in was enough to dispatch Brentford, and we’re now unbeaten since January 24th. Wendy lost at Preston.
You crow about these things while you can, because who knows what the future may hold.

Other, related stuff:
The original 6000 miles… Mind The Gap post.
Still none the wiser over my Fantasy League selections.

 

* obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. 

The best weekend

Football is back!

I’ve missed football. Hell, I miss it when there’s a week off for an international break, so the last few months have been tough. And after United’s amazing exploits last time around, the close season has been a bit of an anti-climax. I simply can’t get into these televised friendly “Sponsor Cup” tournaments – they clearly mean very little to the clubs involved, given that you find wholly different teams fielded for each half, never mind each game.

Sadly, that’s left me a little behind as we head into the Fantasy League season which goes hand in hand with the EPL. I have no idea who’s playing for whom, how well he is playing and if he’s likely to feature each week. These are important things to consider, as the leagues I’m part of take fantasy football very seriously. Draft night is coming up for the Togga league on Tuesday and while testing the system, I chose Goran Ivansevic and Mitt Romney as my central defensive pairing.

I’m feeling a bit out of it.

This may be the best weekend, but it’s also going to be packed full of me studying football websites. Or maybe I need to crowdsource: who would be your top 3 player picks from the EPL?
(Or top 5, or even top 11 if you’re feeling wild.)

Rugby is laughable

“My sport is better than your sport…”

So goes the playground-style oneup[person]ship on social media and at braais and even occasionally at the Molton Brown Curry Club.

I don’t usually get involved.

My sport is football, and I understand that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Additionally, I also recognise that football has its faults. I’ve been telling the authorities how to sort them out for years and years. Thankfully, it looks like they’ve finally begun to listen.

Finally, some progress being made to make football less laughable.

Meanwhile in rugby (so often the sporting bastion of the anti-footy pisstakers) they’re heading the other way.

Yep – next time some egg-chaser has a pop at my favourite sport, I might just bite back by showing them this… this… utter mess.

That’s the final Super 18 table for this season, and beagle-eyed readers will not amusing little cameos like the fourth placed Brumbies having 34 points and the fifth placed Hurricanes having 58.

That’s really not how leagues should work.

At least football is working to stamp out its problems. Local rugby bosses are compounding and exacerbating their troubles and generally trashing their sport, season by season.

It’s both sad and hilarious to watch (which is something that fewer and fewer fans are doing, unsurprisingly).

Schadenfreude isn’t just a river in Egypt.