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).