Match of dismay
11 April ~ We're up to 1990 in our 25-year retrospective. In WSC 35 Harry Pearson recommended how to recreate an authentic matchday atmosphere while watching televised football in the comfort of your living room
1. At least 3 hours before transmission, switch off the central heating and open all doors and windows. Alternatively, move your TV set into the garden or onto the roof.
2. Place a length of railing in front of the screen. If no railings are available, a clothes horse covered with chicken wire makes a good substitute. Watching from inside a rabbit hutch will do at a pinch.
3. If the match is during the festive season spray the room with Brut 69 and Blue Stratos for that post-Yuletide "Guess what I got for Xmas" ambience.
4. If you have a clock in your living room make sure it isn't showing the correct time, or, better still, replace it with one that doesn't work.
5. Why not try some "corporate hospitality"? Erect a small greenhouse in your sitting room and invite your workmates round to watch from the comfort and luxury of your "executive box".
6. One hour before kick-off, place a tea bag in ten gallons of lukewarm water. For added realism, stick a label reading "Coffee 30p" on the side of the pan. Lay in a supply of Wagon Wheels and Yankee Bars.
7. Place signs saying "Members Only" on all the chairs in the living room except the one with the leg missing that's hidden behind the sideboard. You can't fully appreciate football if you are sitting down.
8. Before entering the living room, ask a friend to search you, while saying "Let's see what you're hiding, son, hur hur".
9. Put on a Sisley sweatshirt, Pepe jeans, Timberland loafers and half a pint of hair gel. Older viewers might prefer to wear something a little more stylish. A blue nylon snorkel parka with orange lining is one of those items of classic English tailoring that never go out of fashion.
During the match
Once the match is underway the following actions will ensure a real "in-the-ground" feeling.
1. Ask a friend to phone up during the match and inform you that a car is on fire in a nearby street. "And its registration is buzz crackle fizz Awayawayaway." It all helps add to the tension.
2. Tip a bucket of water over your head. You can't really enjoy the game unless you are soaked.
3. Ask your partner to rush into the room five minutes after kick-off, shouting " Out of the way. you bloody part-timer" before pushing in front of you and obscuring your view. As a variation, encourage them to drink ten bottles of brown ale and stand close behind you, belching loudly. If they can be persuaded to shout "What a load of shite!"; "Compete" and "Get rid of it!" every 30 seconds, then so much the better.
4. If your team are playing, ask your partner to say "Here's a goal" every time the opposition gets the ball.
5. Ask your partner to select a player at random and hurl abuse at him throughout the game no matter how well he plays. The abuse should be as irrelevant as possible. Shouting "Get stuck in you big poof" when the ball is hovering fifty feet above the centre circle is a good start.
6. In the unlikely event of Liverpool being one of the teams featured, you might like to indulge in a spot of nostalgia. Recreate the golden age of the Kop by taking off your jacket and pissing in one of the pockets. If you are a Liverpool fan, remember to regularly yell "Penalty!" when your team is attacking; "Offside" whenever the opposition approach your penalty area and "This refs given us nothing!" at regular intervals throughout the entire match.
7. At half-time: Ask your partner to parade around the living room dressed as a panda while waving at the furniture and repeatedly patting the goldfish bowl on the head. Put a badly scratched Bananarama single on a 1950s Woolworths record player and turn it up to maximum volume. Give your next door neighbour a megaphone and ask him to pop his head through the window and bellow in a stupid voice: "There's a sale in the club shop today and knickers are reduced. Yes, knickers are down in the club shop…" Get yourself a plastic cup full of the specially prepared "coffee" and pour it all over your shoes.
8. Always remember that a football match is the only place where you can talk loudly to yourself in public without people staring. Establish the same liberated atmosphere in your living room by directing a few pithy remarks about the state of British football in the general direction of the cat.
9. The Second Half: Repeat as for the first, but with ten minutes of the game remaining say "Let's go away now to avoid the rush" and switch off the set. If the timing is right, you should miss at least two goals. Followers of the away team might prefer to "Keep yourselves in for your own safety". Switch off the set and stand in the dark for half an hour.
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