The Close Season – Purgatory For the Average Football Fan
We should look forward to and enjoy the summer in the UK. It might not last long but given that there are some who think there is nothing better than a lazy sunny afternoon, drink in hand with the sun beating down on pale flesh it is worth waiting for.
On the other hand, however, there are some people who would rather be huddled in a cold stadium with freezing toes, yelling their disapproval at 11 men running around a muddy field.
Each to their own of course.
We can safely ignore the ones who call themselves sun lovers and leave them to their unhappy, peeling skin existence and concentrate instead on the plight of those of us who dread this time of year and shudder uncontrollably at any mention of the close season.
For us, games played in the snow, ice and rain after a nine-hour trip to Plymouth are to be enjoyed just as much as any package holiday to Lloret de Mar.
Everyone deserves a break of course, it gives us time to recharge our batteries and plan for the future. For football fans, however, the period between the FA Cup Final (the traditional end of the season) and the first Saturday of the new season is a yawning chasm that never seems to get narrower. There is the distraction of the World Cup and European Championships of course but, there is always the nagging doubt that you may have missed a rumour on Twitter about Oldham’s new centre half while you’re watching Peru v Namibia at 3 in the morning.
Any small snippet of news from your club is eagerly pounced upon, even if it’s an announcement about who will be sponsoring the club lawnmower when the new campaign begins. Those who are short on patience are harbingers of doom if the club hasn’t signed at least six new players by June 1st.
The new fixture list (20th June folks) is poured over as if it is a missive from another world. Away trips are planned and there is some comfort taken from the discovery that the Grimsby game, doesn’t clash with your daughter’s wedding after all.
However, this is only a brief hiatus and cannot put aside the horror that the new season is still an entire month away.
Eventually, there is an audible sigh from around the land as clubs post photos of new signings holding up scarfs inside empty grounds, and even though you’ve never heard of the player, for a brief moment he is everything you’ve been waiting for…The new season.