I almost got away with it. I was working on an important press release in my office but I had the door open so it wouldn’t look suspicious in case any of the big cheeses of my company walked past my door and had an inquisitive look. Being fairly new to the company and English to boot, I am something of a novelty so time bandits are always dropping by to pass on their regards. By time bandits, I of course mean fellow humans who are dragging me into their elaborate time-wasting schemes – not the delightful dwarves in Terry Gilliam’s underrated fable.
And while I usually would be delighted to welcome a bunch of diminutive, time-traveling thieves into my office, this particular afternoon I was not. Living in the States has introduced me to a whole new facet of football fandom – sneaking in a game whilst you are meant to be at work.
At least in the Championship, our games are rarely on TV, never in midweek so my options are more limited which is a blessing. If you are a fan of one of the bigger teams fans then the knots you must tie yourself into to either watch the match or avoid the result until you can watch it later, are positively gargantuan. One of the greatest pieces of TV comedy ever was an episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? Where the two main characters, Bob and Terry, spent the day trying to avoid the score of an England match and ended up taking sanctuary in a church to avoid contact with other fans. I sometimes wonder if fans actually do this anymore. I’ve lost count of the number of recorded matches I used to spoil for myself because I couldn’t resist sneaking a look at the score to see if it would be worth my while to stay up and watch the highlights. Nothing would make me more depressed than wasting two hours of my life watching a pre-recorded 0-0, even if it was the best 0-0 ever seen, and unlike those jerks at ESPN, we know there can be some good 0-0’s.
I digress. It’s bad enough trying to listen/watch soccer Saturday on line on Saturday morning with a boisterous two year old in tow, fascinated by whatever his dad is doing and a wife on the warpath, convinced I’m shirking my fatherly duties (and she’d be right). Watching at work falls into the same category as taking an extra ten minutes for your cigarette break (or even taking one if you don’t smoke), or as we did back in the day, sneaking a quick pint on your Friday lunchtime and spending the rest of the afternoon valiantly trying to stay awake. This afternoon was different. Although I had an important job, it was equally important for me to pay attention to Blackpool v Middlesbrough and my weapon of choice was the BBC’s live text commentary service. It’s like a throwback to the old Teletext we used to get – a digital upgrade service that divided the old division into three pages and would refresh of its own accord every five minutes, you had to sit in purgatory for that time waiting for your own teams score to come on, and then you would see the score updated and that you had conceded again four minutes ago. This is slightly more exciting in that it tells you when the opposition have had a shot, when they score and, bloody typical, when you miss a penalty.
Of course the rest of the office knew when the latter happened because I shouted “Oh fuck off!” too loudly and punched the top of my laptop.
Being foreign and exotic has its advantages because every day from now on I’ll have to shout “Oh fuck off!” at 4:45pm and be able to pass it off as a cultural thing like toasting the haggis on Robbie Burns Night in Scotland in January or pretending to be Irish on March 17th. Just another note in the debit column that has filled up considerably in the past 18 months of supporting an unsuccessful side. If shit performances were money, they’d owe me a Greek-sized GDP but I’d swap it all to be 14th in the EPL again.
I think I’m suffering from post-traumatic stress from relegation but that’s another article…
Guy Bailey is a staff writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.