I hate this. Really, I do. We’re standing on the edge of the precipice now, FA Cup final done and dusted, and even the Spanish league all settled. There’s nothing keeping us from tumbling into two months without our dearest friend, the game of football.
But there is, if you look hard enough, a safety net. In fact, there are several. Here are five methods I suggest you use to cope with the close of the season. Notably, I’m excluding going shopping with the missus, getting drunk in Ibiza and watching cricket.
The football season is over, is it? Someone should tell our penguin-dodging friends who live by the fjords. Whilst we may be finished in all the major European footballing countries, our Scandinavian friends are just getting their seasons up and running. Thanks to the wonders of PvP streaming technology, ardent supporters of Inter Turku or Stabaek need never miss a game.
A quick visit to one of several websites to check the digital schedules, a quick download of some software and one can be, not entirely legally, watching Vikings kick lumps out of each other on a laptop whilst drinking Magners in the garden, high on melatonin and the matchday atmosphere.
Alternatively, there are still further websites out there that give instructions on how to manhandle your sattelite dish and hack your Digibox to enable you to watch the Copenhagen derby in HD on your widescreen. Only take this route if you really, really hate it when your technology is fully covered by its warranty.
Adopting a second club in the arctic also brings its own set of benefits, such as the ability to buy an obscure football shirt nobody will recognise, and a fantastic way to kill a conversation in the pub.
There is a major international tournament happening this summer too. If you’re longing to watch England hammer penalties against the crossbar from 12 yards, tune in to the European U21 championships, being held this year by Sweden, who presumably have asked their clubs if they mind lending their stadia mid-season. England, Italy and Spain will begin as favourites, but you can never rule out the Germans. Ever. Eastern European steel is provided by Belarus and Serbia, who will play out a 0-0 draw on the 19th of June, and Finland join the hosts.
Naturally England have been drawn in the group of death, where they will face Spain, Germany and the Finns, but have faith! Whatever happens, there’s sure to be drama. It just wouldn’t be an international tournament unless the Three Lions limp out thanks to some form of controversial penalty, shoot out or not. Just ask Portugal, Russia, Romania, Holland U21, Germany…
If you’re a little more athletic than most, you may instead decide to dust off your trainers, pump up your egg-shaped football and show your four best mates just what Everton missed out on all those years ago when they chose “some kid called Wayne” over you. Selected Powerleagues are running a summertime sunday morning seven-a-side league to tide you over between pub football seasons, plus flat surface, minus blind ref and without your four worst players. Provided your hangover will allow you out of bed, that is.
Small sided games are superb cardio-vascular workouts due to the pace of the game. But remember, they’re good for both boosting your fitness over the fattening summer months, and ruining it courtesy of a horror challenge from Kebabatasary’s pieman striker. So proceed with caution, wear your shinnies, and bring a sick-bag if you have the 9am kickoff.
Coach Football to Spoiled Kids in the USA
Do you hate students? Or rich people? If so, then this option isn’t for you. If you can tolerate them, and the idea of working three hours a day, exploring the local females and getting so much sunburn you peel like an onion appeals to you, then get stuck in. You need nothing more than an FA Level 1 Coaching badge to get employed by any one of the myriad companies willing to swoop for fresh blood every summer. You don’t need coaching skills, playing ability, or even to like football. Most of the kids you’ll coach don’t know how to play the game anyway.
The drawbacks, however, are just as numerous. First, your pay is utterly diabolical, so if you’ve ever been paid for anything ever, you’ll feel like you’re being totally mugged off. Secondly, you’ll be treated like a muppet by the company you work for, and your fellow coaches will spend most of their time ignoring their children, instead competing to see who has the biggest ego. Lastly, if you so much as sneeze on a child, you can expect to be sued for the GDP of several small countries.
There’s lots of sun, though.
The economy is crumbling, soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and the MP for Pinner and Ruislip spent your annual tax bill on some Poplar trees to line his drive. Surely it’s time to give up caring and fall asleep for months?
Hibernation, as wonderful a concept as it is, simply isn’t natural to humans. Whilst research has been conducted in inducing hibernation, nobody has had any success with it. Whatsoever.
Would you dare be the first? How fantastic would it be to just fast forward two months? Not a care in the world. No sunburn. No annoying beach holidays. No need to move into the beer garden when it gets stuffy at the bar. Just lie down in bed on Saturday night after the FA Cup final and wake up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, in time for the Community Shield, and having no idea who your club had signed. Torres at Chelsea! Tevez at Liverpool! Clive Mendonca at United! Imagine the surprises…
Friends, I know it’s tough, getting through to August. But together… TOGETHER… we will get there
Ben Johnston can also be read at www.inbehind.com