Firstly I would like to explain the title, whilst this is a little inflammatory I am not here to discuss the merits of the Mike Newell School of sexual equality within the beautiful game but rather the unresolved conflict between two great loves of my life – women and football.
Firstly for some reason I feel I must clarify what you already know, the role of football for millions of men’s lives begins at an early age. I can remember that I have loved football long before spending time with the opposite sex became more desirable than contracting the bubonic plague.
Despite a lack of discernible talent I like countless others grew up playing, talking or watching football at every opportunity. From the schoolyard, park or back garden everywhere had the potential to be a football pitch, I read all the books (this was before the interweb) and Saturday afternoons were subservient to BBC Radio 5 live, train schedules and kick off times.
This continued as I reached puberty and beyond and despite one or two close encounters my head was never turned for a long enough period of time to loosen the grip football had on my life.
It must be remembered that as a boy grows up and bubonic fears are replaced with the desire to impress, neigh court a fair maiden the equilibrium is put in danger.
If successful in pursuit of a lady companion and a relationship between a man and a woman reaches a certain stage weird and confusing activities are suggested for Saturday afternoons insted of football. Such activities include (but are not limited to) decorating, Ikea, going shopping and other suitably stereotypical ideas that will doubtless endear me to a generation of feminists.
As the relationship grows Football is no longer guaranteed to be centre stage it can become subject to negotiation and argument as man is torn between his love for football and his love for the lady in his life.
So I have been debating recently how involved your significant other should be with your relationship with the beautiful game.
Some would argue that this is not as much of an issue as it used to be over recent years the demographics of English football stadia have shifted dramatically and it is now culturally acceptable to enter a football stadium with your other half in tow.
Technically this development presents a new potential middle ground between the two, introducing your girlfriend to the beautiful game could be a perfect formula( depending on your significant other of course). Gone are the stereotypes of condiment offside trap diagrams, ignorant questions and a new era featuring more and more women of all ages playing and revelling in the beautiful game.
With this in mind I have recently took the decision to finally take the big step and reluctantly decide that after 4 years finally take my girlfriend to watch my team play live for the first time.
My girlfriend has known since about the second month of our relationship that she would always be competing with football for my free time and spare cash, to her credit she has taken steps to try and gain a rudimentary understanding of the game and learnt that my mood on an evening may be determined by the actions of 22 men on a football pitch often hundreds of miles from our present location.
Taking a woman to a football match may not sound like a big deal however for the last 4 years I have kept the two competing sections of my life separate. Juggling my weekends to ensure enough time was spent in the company of my lovely lady to ensure I was not shown the door, whilst still allowing sufficient time to travel to games or at the very least keep track of the action on television.
It was not that I didn’t want her to like football in fact the exact opposite I want her to understand my passion to not roll her eyes when I get excited about the cup draw or that Eric Von Winkle from FC Sponge has signed a new contract.
However I am not so sure that I want her to share the passion, I like that I can disappear for a few hours on a Saturday into my own world oblivious to all things that are truly important in life. For 90 minutes I can shout at the top of my voice, voice displeasure at random strangers and take out my frustrations with life.
Please do not misinterpret my ramblings though, I welcome the arrival of women onto the terraces it shows that many of the negative aspects of the game have been eroded and the game has entered the main stream. Also with my Mum, Sister and Grandmother (Nan) season ticket holders at one of two English clubs I am in no position to argue that women do not have a place on the terraces of England.
After much internal debate I bought the tickets and took the plunge a 5pm game so that we could take in a few activities that were more to her taste and not just throw her in at the deep end. Arriving in plenty of time for the match (10 minutes before kick off rather than the usual 2) she seemed impressed by the sheer size, noise and theatre of the stadium.
Throughout the game you could slowly see her starting to realise what all the fuss was about, the banter, the singing the random swearing/shouting for no apparent reason, the excitement the passion.
The game was a great success she had a great time and was able to see OUR team romp to victory, although I am not sure what I will say when she asks when am I next taking her along.
I do not regret taking the plunge and introducing the most important person in my life to my sporting obsession, but i guess I wanted to see if my misgivings were normal?
How long would you wait to take a girl you like to a football match, is it now first date material or something special to be savoured.
Do you see football as separate from your romantic life or am I just out of date/touch with the modern world for dragging my feet for so long?
The lady at the top? Letizia Filippi.