The Love of Football

by Natasha Shafai

Why do we love football? It’s the eternal question that my dad asks me? ”You’re a girl”
he says and I reply with ”That’s a bit sexist” but he says he doesn’t mean it like that. I love
the passion, the adrenaline rush when my team scores, the pure unadulterated joy and
happiness when you win a big game, the devastation coupled with tears when you lose
and there’s the science behind it as well. It’s estimated that we can burn up to 300 calories
during the 90 minutes. Just by being nervous and the adrenaline that runs around our body
every time the opposition has an effort on goal, a bad challenge happens to your player, the
ref does something that annoys you or we have an effort of their goals…so the whole 90
minutes basically. I don’t need to exercise just watch United play a couple of times of week!

Anyone who has never loved the game will not understand. Friends and boyfriends have
come and gone but my boys, my United boys, have always been there. Through the bad and
good times that life throws at you I knew and know that for 90 minutes (or whatever extra
time we get) on a Saturday/Sunday/ Monday or any day except Friday (although United have
played on a Friday before now one Easter) I can forgot my troubles, the fact that I hate my
job or my boyfriend was being a d**k no longer mattered and I can just go and enjoy the
game. Well I say enjoy but no one can enjoy the scouse or city game. I feel sick just thinking
about them.

But back to the question…why do we love football? I did some research amongst match
goers after the last scouse game…you know the one we won 2-1. You forgot about the
result didn’t you because of the racist abusing his victim again but we won it and after
the discussion had died down about Pat and the player who plays for the scouse I asked
the question to my friends in the pub. The first thing I need to point out is that when I say
football I mean United but we play the game the right way (attack attack attack attack attack
as the chant goes) ergo football. The main reason was that it’s in your DNA. Passed down
from generations who talked about Best, Edwards, Law and, further afield, Pele, Eusebio and
Maradona. That your football team is given to you and you have to love it; there is no other
option or other way and that whatever happens you have to support the team and show
them the love.

When it comes to United my love has only been 30 years long. I was born with the love in
1981 and then it blossomed March 1989 when I went to my first game. It was a Saturday
(rare these days) and I had this swell of excitement that was just bursting out of me and I
actually skipped some of the way to Old Trafford. Me, I actually skipped. The noise levels
grew as we reached the ground and once inside it was so loud that I thought I’d burst an
eardrum although it would be well worth it! The records will show that we won 2 nil but in
my head United had won 10 nil such was my love. My devotion and worship was now fully
cemented and 23 years later I feel exactly the same. I have had the pleasure of seeing some
great players…Hughes Kanchelshis, Robson, Scholes, Ronaldo and many many more but my
favourite United player has to be King Eric. Just the thought of his name as I write it makes
me smile. I loved and still love everything about him. His swagger, his pride and f**k you
attitude that is so Mancunian that is unreal. It’s like he was a Manc. His goals, his presence
and the kicking of a racist made him my most loved player.

This sounds like a United love in and I suppose, to a certain extent, it is because they are my
team but you know you love your football and your team when just the thought of them
makes you smile.


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