March 13, 2004

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Today I went to my first football match in a couple of years. It's not that I don't enjoy going to football matches - I used to go to most home matches - I just couldn't justify the price. To see Hooterville United it costs 12 to sit in the stands.

I decided to go today for two reasons. First, it's nearly my birthday and I thought I would treat myself. Second, they were playing Accrington Stanley. Though it was one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888, Accrington had in recent years dropped all the way down to the Unibond League. With its fortunes on the rise, it is now playing in the Nationwide Conference. My interest in Accrington goes back to my time as an intern at Westminster in 1992. I worked for the MP from Accrington who was also a vice-president of the club.

I was hoping for a spectacular display of goal scoring by United, after their 9-0 drubbing of Dagenham & Redbridge. No such luck. For a long time I thought it was going to be a 0-0 draw. Then due to a nasty foul in the penalty area that resulted in a sending off as well as a penalty kick, the hometown boys managed a 1-0 win.

Despite the lack of goals, I had forgotten how much better live football is than watching it on the telly, even without instant replay. It might not be so good in the cheap seats at a Premiership match (I don't know, as I've never been able to afford the seats or the petrol to get to them), but on the front row of the stand - which is probably twenty feet above the pitch, as there is a terrace (standing area) underneath - I could see all of the action except for a tiny sliver of the pitch in the corner on my side at the opposite end from where I was sitting.

I'm planning to go back one more time before the end of the season. The last match is at home against Chester City. The scheduling couldn't have been more seredipitous. Who would have known last summer that United would spend the first half of the season in first place and the second half in second place, chasing Chester. All United need to do is make up the three of the five points by which they trail Chester in the standing - or even just two points if United keep their advantage in goal difference - for the final match to decide who gets automatic promotion back into the Football League.

Posted by david at March 13, 2004 11:33 PM | TrackBack