Recently my teenage son said he had not realised how much I loved football before. It is funny how much they miss when they are little and focused so much on their own desires and pastimes. I cannot remember a time when footie did not feature in my life in one way or another. It is true to say that I have had fifty years of loving football.
Tot to ten
My adoptive father had played football as a hobby and was on the police team during the 1950s. I remember him encouraging me to play outside. I have very fond memories of him teaching me how to dribble. I loved how impressed lads were in the neighbourhood when I had some basic football skills. These were the days when football was not really associated with women and girls.
Eleven to twenty
This was the period when I would collect football stickers with great enthusiasm. My brother knew a girl who babysat for Emlyn Hughes. This was very exciting for me as I supported Liverpool Football Club. I got sent lots of merchandise and loved the vibrant red of the team colours. Or course, this was also the period the Hillsborough Football Disaster happened. I remember watching it unfold on the television and bursting into tears. The incident had quite a personal impact on my family and also one of my college friends. How terrible that what what was envisaged as a fun day out turned into such a tragedy.
Twenties and thirties
These were the jam-packed years where I was trying to build a career and later parenting my 3 children. I remember my boyfriend setting up a barbecue and me complaining that I did not want to miss the football game on the television. To his credit, he arranged things so that I could eat my burger in the garden and watch telly at the same time. I fondly remember playing football with the children and my son having a little tumble when playing in our yard. I was keen for them to have a healthy and active lifestyle. Busy days meant I would catch up online with football facts, fixtures and statistics via sites like 888Fixtures Sport news.
I found myself living in France during this period. I was in a French bar when France won the last World Cup. I remember the bar going wild and singing “I Will Survive!” by Gloria Gaynor for some strange reason. Tractors paraded up and down the street draped with French flags. Someone treated me to a mojito to celebrate the victory. Another bar that was like something out of the 1800s said if England got to the final they would put a television in the bar. Of course, that sadly never happened.
Fifty and onwards
I am aware in my middle years that I have not pursued some of my interests whilst juggling work and parenting. I am determined to live out my remaining years having fun. I have plans to visit a football match soon probably to watch Swansea City. One thing I really enjoy doing these days is watching women’s football. As in so many areas of life, women and girls were capable and just needed sexism to get out of our way.
What do you love about football? What role has it played in your life?