One (Almost) Short Message
Quiet, isn’t it? In years ending in an odd number, the Euro-centric football enthusiast’s calendar suddenly opens out before them like the savannah plains. The 2011 Women’s World and the European Under-21 Championships sit before us like twin oases and the press will continue to feed the constant thirst with a drip of transfer stories, many of which will come to nothing and many more of which will not become truth until the last possible moment before a ball is kicked in anger again. Pre-season friendlies, the summer methadone for the addicted supporter, will come and go, matches that serve a purpose for the clubs themselves but which, devoid as they are of broader context, will mean little to all but those of us that have been breaking out into sweats on account of our cold turkey.
There are other bright spots that are worthy of a mention this summer. The Supporters Direct Conference is in July, and this is followed by the annual Supporters Direct Cup match, this year to be played between Chester and FC United of Manchester. It will also be worth commemorating an anniversary that will go uncelebrated elsewhere, but which has had ramifications across the whole of British football – the tenth anniversary of the birth of Enfield Town FC. Meanwhile, there is other football going on elsewhere for those that wish to seek it out. The League of Ireland plays during the summer, as do several European leagues and Major League Soccer in the USA. Globally speaking, there is no such thing as a close season. Back here in Britain, though, this week has felt like waking up the morning after a particularly heavy night out.
So, you may be wondering where this is going? Well, that’s a fair question. Over the last few days or so, I have taken the opportunity to do a little thinking. Twohundredpercent has built what reputation it has (and I remain uncertain of the extent to which it has one and, yes, that is in spite of everything; this is a conversation that I have had more than once) on a certain type of writing – analytical, critical and – I should point out that I am only speaking for myself, here, there is no criticism of the other people that write for this site, who do a brilliant job for far too little reward - sometimes a little dry. So, the summer is here, the sky is blue and it is a beautiful day. It’s time to enjoy myself a little bit. To cut loose, as it were.
As some of you may have noticed, I watch (it would be stretching things too far to say that I have to watch) a lot of football. This, in itself, is no bad thing and it is a thing to be enjoyed. The peripheries of what happens around the game, however, is a different matter. It is depressing. The owners, and the ground-snatcher and the speculators. The abuse, from the within and without, from supporter to supporter, frequently in the name of something called “banter”. The feeling that we are living in the perpetual last days of Rome, a world that is being driven mad by its own hubris. The aggressive nature that feels as if it has crept either in or back in to the game. The semblance of caring about what is being said on Twitter or whether anybody is reading what we are writing. Twohundredpercent was five years old at the end of last week and, for the first time, it has started to feel wearing.
This, however, is not a rant. I made a decision that I would stop running this site when it was no longer enjoyable to do, and it has started to become unenjoyable. It is an opinion that I have come to revise over the last few days. I have come to the opinion that I still enjoy the writing. What I have to do is not get to dragged into the culture of what has increasingly felt like a hostile and aggressive environment over the last few days, weeks and months. The end of the season is a perfect time for this. It is a time for reinvention and rebirth. And I am going to enjoy it. You are welcome to join me, should you wish to.