Hiraeth is a Welsh word meaning a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, or a home which maybe never was. I’m not sure it has an antonym, but if it did, that is what I experienced on the last Saturday in August, 2021. Standing in uncharacteristic sunshine, looking over Blaenau Ffestiniog Amateurs’s Cae Clyd ground towards the mountains of Eryri – including the peak of Moelwyn Mawr which I’d been stood on just three hours earlier – I felt a pleasingly strong sense of finally returning home to a place I’d never previously lived.Continue reading “How I watched football: 2021-22”
Going to watch football in 2020-21 wasn’t easy. Professional football was a lockout. And as local and national lockdowns came and went, so too did differing restrictions on was accessible. Even when I found games I could attend, navigating my way into them wasn’t always easy.Continue reading “How I watched football: 2020-21”
This felt like a season of 0-0 draws. Which is hard to explain given that in reality I saw only one. But stick with me, whilst I thrash this out. I saw 31 football matches and though all of them offered me something, none really stand out. All of them – even the six-goal thriller I saw at Penrhiwceiber, even Wales qualifying for a major tournament – felt less like games I’ll one day tell people I was there for, and more like matches I will be reminded I was at. Continue reading “How I watched football: 2019-20”
A Friday night in May. The Valley is packed. It’s the 87th minute of the second-leg of the League One play-off semi-final and Charlton Athletic lead 3-2 on aggregate.
“Well, whatever happens it’s been a great season,” says James above the din.
“Aye,” I reply, “but it’d be nice to have half an hour more of it”.
About 90 seconds later Andy Butler got his head on a corner, the ball found the net, and the two of us, along with a thousand or so others, were lost in a wave of seat-tumbling stranger-grabbing sky-punching scarf-twirling collective bedlam. Continue reading “How I watched football: 2018-19”
‘What the hell are you doing here watching this?’
I was asked that question by an assistant referee on a freezing late February afternoon at Holmesdale. I couldn’t answer it then. I’m still not sure I can. What possesses me to get on a bus and travel for the best part of an hour to the fringes of Bromley, the outskirts of the outskirts, to watch twenty-two men really test the boundaries of what can be defined as a game of football? Continue reading “How I watched football: 2017-18”
Where do you go after football has finally given you all you’d ever dreamed of? After the joy unbounded of following Wales at Euro 2016 last summer, there was always a danger that watching football, any football, would feel decidedly anticlimactic. Continue reading “How I watched football: 2016-17”
Hundreds of miles from home, fenced in on a crumbling, open terrace. Cold. Soaked through. I’d just watched my team lose 2-0. It was the best night of my life.
In October, Wales qualified for Euro 2016. The only dream I’ve ever allowed myself to have, realised in front of my eyes. In a football sense, nothing that followed was going to come close to topping that, nor frankly, was it going to matter. Continue reading “How I watched football: 2015-16”
When you get in the habit of watching live football, any live football, to the point of consuming live football, every season runs the risk of stumbling to a conclusion. A desperate scramble to watch tenth tier league cup finals and rearranged reserve team play-offs in order to get one last hit before the reality of the football-free, barbecue-smoke backed summer months hit home. For me, and 33,279 others, there was no danger of this season petering out in such a way. That’s because, ahead of us all the way through, firmly in our calendars since last summer, our end-of-season boss level awaited; Wales versus Belgium… and it didn’t disappoint. Continue reading “How I watched football 2014-15”
Convention tells us that the seasons in which your football team gets relegated are the worst seasons you can ever experience. ‘Despair’ is a word that’s thrown around a lot. ‘Hapless’ is another. This past year I watched Doncaster Rovers fall from the Championship, but neither of those words come close to fitting what I experienced, because, you know what, I really enjoyed it. I know I’m supposed to be in a permanent despondent funk as I mooch about the house toe-ending household pets, but the truth is I can’t look back on the 2013-14 season anything other than fondly. Continue reading “How I watched football 2013-14”
I’m not a photographer. I don’t even own a camera. So this is neither a portfolio nor an exhibition. But I do like photos, so when attending matches last season I made an effort to take at least one, using just the camera on my phone and the instagram app. These are they; a collection of images representing all the football I saw between July 2012 and May 2013. Only one game is missing – Doncaster Rovers’ 2-1 win at Crewe in April – as I had my phone stolen on the morning of the game, but the rest are all present and documented below, some it has to be said, much better than others. Continue reading “How I watched football 2012-13”