You will have to excuse the obscenities, but two hundred days without a game is fucking ridiculous. Since 1991 when my fitba viewing career started this is easily the longest period without a game by a long shot. Even during my playing days there were Dons games in the mix and sometimes watching my pals teams if my game was off. There were also the various suspensions too which gave me the chance to abuse the ref from the sideline instead of from the centre of defence. Granted I am now over eighty days of being away from the land I call home for six months of the year to which incredibly people have argued that I was not home to watch fitba anyway which I find bizarre and a totally moot point. If this omnipresent plague had not brought the world to its knees, I wouldn’t be stuck in another continent. This meaning I would have plenty time to grab a pie and a programme around the grounds which going by my diary, I was more than ready to do. But the diary entries weren’t to be and I find myself two hundred days since I spun a turnstile, two hundred days since I saw a net rustle, two hundred days since a pre match pint, two hundred days since VAR irritated me.
It’s quite incredible to think it’s been that long considering where my life has taken me since December 2015. A twenty eight day trip home from work wasn’t complete without at least five maybe six new grounds in the bag. (I have pretty much averaged that in the 24 months I have been home in that time). Let’s compare the previous pre-armaggeddon two hundred days. They takes us back to July 31st. By that point I had already watched four game for the season in three countries. Those next two hundred days took me to twenty seven games in Scotland, one in Ireland, another in Northern Ireland, two more in England, one in Wales two in France with the season prematurely culminating with four in the Netherlands. Thousands upon thousands of miles then boom. Nothing!
Quite clearly fitba is a huge part of life. I have never tried to hide that ever. It’s my hobby and not just mine these days either, it’s all Wee Man wants to do. It is now our thing . It is father and son time and there is no doubting I am more than lucky he fell into my interest . Personally I haven’t seen a net bulge since Oussama Tannane slotted home a penalty for Vitesse v Heerenveen on the sixteenth of February. Wee Man is a week longer, with Greg Docherty finishing up things for Hibernian against BSC Glasgow at a blustery Recreation Park on the ninth being his last goal. Since then we have been robbed of trips to Broxburn Athletic, Easthouses Lily, Dalkeith Thistle, Bonnyrigg Rose, Newtongrange Star, Bo’ness United, Stranraer, Kinoull, Jeanfield Swifts, Gala Fairdean Rovers, Glenafton Athletic, Rutherglen Glencairn, Kilsyth R*****s, Dalry Thistle and Girvan. Quite the tour of our lovely country was pencilled in over two of my leaves. Our summer holiday was booked to Finland in July where HJK, Ilves, TPS and SexyPoxty were all to be ticked . Also on foreign soil Hartlepool were booked into the schedule. Wee Man free, I had Accrington Stanley, Juventus, Sampdoria, Neuchatel Xamax , Grasshoppers and Brann ready to sell me a scarf and go in the photo album. Twenty-six new grounds gone in a puff of global pandemic ridden smoke leaving me with flight vouchers galore, no fitba and an elephantine sense of discontentment. I had planned and saved for months going into these two trips home. It was always going take something quite outrageous to stop me heading to the fitba. Turned out that something ended up being the world shutting down. It doesn’t get more extreme than that, that’s for sure. It took a few weeks and maybe a bit more to get passed the disappointment of losing out. The scunneredness was there for all to see, not that I saw many as the world situation prevented it.
I really have to put things into perspective though. Like, money, fitba is not the be all and end all. Two hundred days game free may have been a poor return due a terrible circumstance, and no fitba grated me in the early days. But here I currently sit in a hotel room in Luanda in quarantine where I have far too much time to think and to write my unintelligible groans. I’m currently awaiting my latest results before I can head out to sea again. I’m into a third week despite it only supposed to be two. This is now week thirteen of this trip total with five or so to go. It has been a nightmare with a son and a lovely lady on the banks o’ Dee sitting at home waiting. It is the longest period being away from them ever, or home for that matter and with this trip only supposed to be six weeks away it feels an even greater kick in the nads. I miss them immensely which surely doesn’t come as a surprise. That goes for my wee ginger cat too. This is by far the most distressing element to this pandemic so far. The feeling of being helpless about missing the loved ones sucks to unimaginable levels. It is extremely vexing on the brain especially during the periods when I am confined to these four walls where my overactive hamster on a treadmill brain is fully in high gear . I hope I never have to go through this again. Life without the “three amigos” has been burdensome to say the least and not an experience I ever want to be subjected to again. Phone calls, video calls and whatever don’t cut it now but it is all I have. All the good stuff in March/April/May seems like fucking aeons ago now. So as pissed off with twenty eight and half weeks without fitba as I have been, it is nothing compared to being without your boy, lady and puss. It is categorically incomparable.
Don’t get me wrong I still love fitba and always will but I haven’t been pining for it or gutted every time I have spoke to the real world because of it. (As a side note, no fans games have put me off somewhat. That and the ridiculous Ann Budge v the world fiasco). Other far more precious things have just occupied my mind twenty-four seven instead. The important things that I need in my life. The things that took me to the conclusion that I can consider myself very lucky in life. The reason being, I can safely say I have taken a lot more positives from this last 5-6 months than I have negatives because I have the best people/feline in it. This story is not an attempt at the usual sad fishing found during this global shitstorm, far far from it. It is actually quite the opposite. At the beginning of Covid19 , I found myself stuck at home unpaid for fifteen weeks, but life’s not all about money. Of course it helps but it’s not the be all and end all. That was my only home negative. I was stuck at home for fifteen weeks and I loved every second. For all the time I was at home I didn’t get too worried about things though. This is because the positives kicked in. Those being the people who in normal life, away from the sorry predicament we are currently in, I would never have been able to to spend so much consecutive time with. The first bonus was, living at home with an oblivious five year old being completely infectious. You end up following their lead and losing yourselves in things like playing fitba in the backie, doing his homework and generally just having a laugh together. We took up baking, painting, we went for walks, threw sticks and stones into a burn on a daily basis(aye I’m thirty-six), played with his Hot Wheels every day (again thirty-six) , or challenged each other at board games like Frustration and Kerplunk. Everything was just forgotten about. There was also the highlight of creating our own fitba ground in the garden, which led to seeing the delight in his little face making everything just feel awesome. Reality rapidly disappeared when around him as every day with him was a just full of childish glee . This was aided by stopping buying papers and watching the news. This meant I pretty much managed to ignore the crap in the world with relative ease. It is only since work I have really been subjected to it again but again, nearly. Just the occasional stand down for safety and town halls etc. In my elongated break I just made sure I concentrated on being with loved ones, whether it was the invaluable time with Wee Man or sitting with the cat on my knee. There was also the as equally invaluable cosy nights with the lovely banks o’ Dee-er with a bottle(s) of wine and fine ales and Hitchcock film or two. This was always preceded with walks around Ferryhill and the surrounding area and slaving over a hot stove. Some days even found us getting the booze down in the sun which wasn’t often but choice when it happened . Again reality was nowhere to be found at times like these, it was total bliss enjoying each other’s company. I really enjoyed lockdown I can’t lie . We were all given a block of time together because of it and I’ve never been more thankful for anything. To the extent where being away this long has almost been worth it although stressful. Swings and roundabouts as they say. That first thirteen weeks before leaving for Africa were brilliant and I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. Although I always appreciated the people in my life pre-corona, it is immeasurable how much I do now. They are what matters. Nothing else comes close. I may have been raging about my twenty-six new grounds disappearing in March but come September watching fitba is down the priorities and the fact the end of the season was annihilated isn’t even in my thoughts now. I have a totally new outlook now and alot of plans that are ball free.
I realise others have not been so fortunate and I’m sure I’ll be in a minority but the long term corona effect is a positive one for me. A game changer. Yes I have had no fitba for two hundred days and lost out on a whack of cash but I learned a lot about myself and where I want to be in life. In all honesty I’m not too far from where I want to be, a couple of wee tweaks which I’m working on and it’s all good. I am looking to go back to a similar place in the next month or so on my return to Scottish shores to where I was when I left in June. It may sound strange but enforced lockdown forced home what and who was important and if I came back to living my life in a lockdown-esque fashion again I would choose it every time. It gave me more time with the ones I love. Who doesn’t want that? It showed me how the simple things are by far the best. I really do want to live the simple life now.
Another definate, it also made me realise a lot of what I don’t need in life. The pub for example, I could quite easily never set foot in one again. “Hoos” drinking is the way forward. I don’t need foreign travel and I have not made any plans for the future I’d rather be home, which is highly unlike me. Working abroad I certainly don’t need. With this current trip being hellish. I have found myself actively seeking out employment closer to home(one of the tweaks) . TV? Even before I left I had pretty much given up the ghost and chose books instead(one-hundred and three and counting since March). People, bloody hell, well after having seen what the world has turned into. Humans have been shown up for whom the really are over this pandemic, I realise the world is full of selfish, moronic and hypocritical arseholes more than ever now. Whether it was the bulk buying at the start, the Soul Bar wankers climbing over themselves to get a Grey Goose , the verbal abusive customers in shops, rioting and attacking the police , people not sticking to simple rules, vandalising fitba grounds, smashing nursery playgrounds, constant anguing and really in a nutshell just being general fucking vermin constantly for six months, it has got me thinking that civilization is something I can’t really be bothered with either. As already stated this whole episode has made me want the most simple of lives possible. Simpler than before. All the above I can really be done without.
Two hundred days is dire, for sure. No scarves added, no new obligatory thumbs up photos in the collection and the ground lists covered in stoor. If you told me back in March I would not have seen a game of football for this long, I would have laughed and called shenanigans. But now after a double century of days. I’m not even fussed. It will be back when it’s back. Obviously things have changed since lockdown with, school and work but I’ll be hoping for as similar as set up as when I left in June. Wee Man, banks o’ Dee-er, pussman. I’ll never be as lucky to get as much time as before but I’ll never waste a minute again. Will there be a few games of fitba in there when possible, of course there will , but I’ll ensure cooking the tea and those bottles of wine follow. Going by how I have felt for the last few months, I realise I could actually live without the fitba. Not saying I will, Wee Man wouldn’t allow it anyway. But a cosy night in with good food and a film, the warmth of a cat sleeping at your feet at night or skimming stones across a pond definitely has more appeal now. You don’t realise how much the simple things mean until you don’t have them. I won’t be taken them for granted ever again. I have it good, really good and to use the most irritating phrases to come out of these “unprecedented times”, if my “new normal” is similar to lockdown plus a couple of games then I can’t bloody wait.
Two hundred days without fitba, surprisingly easy. You just need the right people in your life. This year has had a couple of troughs, but there are far more peaks to come out of it that is more than evident. I’d like to think that I am in better place because of it all. In fact I don’t need to think. I know.
But come on Sturgeon the piss taking has gone on a bit long now. Dinna let me get to two-hundred and fifty. I have Whitehill Welfare, Easthouses Lily and Golspie Sutherland to visit.