I've just lost my virginity at Stamford Bridge in full
view of 34,000 or so of my closest friends - and a few visiting Liverpudlians:
Yes - I was a football virgin, but from now on, frankly, I have every
intention of being a slut.
There's something about losing control and shrieking at the top of your
voice in a crowded stadium that beats the hell out of televised snooker.
Oh be still my beating heart - who needs sex when you can have soccer?
You get passes, you get foreplay, you get excitement and the agonising,
heart-stoppingly dreadful near misses, with which all women can identify.
There are the groans, the sighs, the crescendo, and, hopefully, the goal.
Sometimes, even multiple goals.
Yes, yes, yes!
And then you even get an action replay.
Okay there are disappointments when your team fails to score, but at least
you get a hot-dog and a large size Diet Coke to console you.
"Maybe you'd like to go home at half time?" asked my children
hopefully, thinking that I would get bored before the end of the match.
As if! Lack of stamina is not a problem women usually suffer from providing
the level of play is consistent - though it's true that my interest did
start to flag after the away supporters put their shirts back on.
However, it would have been difficult to leave, even if I had wanted to.
As founder members of the fellowship of the fuller thigh, both my neighbours
and myself were welded together like Siamese twins caught in a love triangle.
How to make new friends and influence people: Every time they moved, I
moved too. I think this is the origin of the Mexican wave - involuntary
motion caused by small seats and large bottoms.
At such intimate quarters a certain camaraderie with my fellow fans was
essential. We joked, bantered, exchanged names, occupations and a limited
amount of body fluids due to flying spittle - mostly accompanied by a
vehement denouncement of the referee's fondness for self love. As if he
was only one in the stadium so inclined.
My children, Bill and Bob, currently at an age when merely my existence
embarrasses them, sat in the row behind me and sulked through most of
It started before we even left the house. You can't wear a skirt to a
football match, they said, entreating their father to intervene and get
me to wear something more suitable - like full purdah. You're not taking
a handbag, they gasped, as though I was trying to smuggle in a Kalashnikov,
or as if my sweet little rose covered featured-in-Vogue Anya Hindmarsh
had I love Arsenal stamped across it.
No, you can't sell the spare ticket, they ordered, it's illegal - anyway
- none of the ticket touts will talk to you - you're a woman.
Stand up, they hissed, when they players walked on to the pitch, yanking
me to my feet as though I had failed to curtsey to the Queen.
Clap! they ordered, staring at me fixedly the way I used to glare at them
when they belched in restaurants.
Sit down, they yelled, when I stood up during the community singing.
Shut up, they screamed, when I tried to join in.
They needn't have worried - the arm movements quite defeated me. It's
so tribal, like aboriginal line dancing - the waving, swaying, open arms
- thirty odd thousand heads all turned in the direction of the away supporters
stands, shaking their open fists. The only thing I managed to master was
the pointing finger whilst singing "You're not very good" to
the tune of knees up mother brown.
Oh, if only life were always quite so simple and you could sing it to
your work colleagues, or your husband, or your children for that matter.
Jeering is definitely something I could learn to love, while cheering
is an art form all of its own: The noise of tens of thousands of seats
going 'ping' as the crowd leaps to their feet and roars whenever their
team scores a goal makes every other activity pale into insignificance.
I was definitely lost in the wilderness of television sized sport and
unable to appreciate the sheer balletic skill of the game until I saw
it live. Seeing it pin-sized on a screen just doesn't do the players justice
- even for the height-challenged Chelsea team. Finally, something where
size really doesn't matter.
This is the way sex used to be - not just the edited highlights, late
at night, when you're too tired to appreciate them, but mid-day, full-on
entertainment with lots of tension, and unpredictability. And definitely
not good clean fun.
How was it for you darling? If you need to ask - you've either missed
the goal altogether, or you've got a very undemonstrative supporter.
Not my problem, I'm afraid. I'm quite addicted to the pleasures of public
hand gestures. I'm happy to surround myself in a sea of polyester clad,
male pattern baldness, watching big beery blokes talk to each other from
opposite sides of the stands on their mobile phones - the father and son
crew cuts, the bad language and the bladder problems (they are up and
down to the bathroom as often as women in the last stages of pregnancy).
When I say I'm going to Chelsea, you can forget the branch of Habitat
on the King's Road. I want a season ticket. I want Zola for my mantelpiece.
I want to win the F.A. Cup.
My children, however, really just want me dead.