Sunday 12 May 2013

Where’s the juvenile piece of writing, Phil? I’m hooked on it and I need my fix.  Well, hold your horses. It’s on its way.

I’m afraid time to pause to write something about Sir Alex Ferguson. And I know there are some people who read this who aren’t interested in football…but chill out, this isn’t really about football. It’s about losing something. This isn’t a piece of writing about how he’s the best football manager ever (he is).

Today the feeling hit me. Since he announced his retirement, the feeling of loss hit me. I didn’t think it would, I thought I would be all adult about it and treat it like some person doing a job stopping doing a job. But when I saw him about to walk out of the tunnel before his last game at Old Trafford today: Niagra Falls baby, Niagra Falls. (Scrooged reference, reference fans.)

I do get a bit annoyed when people think football is something and nothing. But I’ve come to accept that this is just the human condition. Some people think their interests (their children, their parent dying, their house burning down) are the important things – and what do I say to that? NOTHING, I wasn’t listening: I was thinking about football. Maybe occasionally Alison Brie or Victoria Coren.

I am part of the group of people that sees football as my religion. It’s the thing I believe, the thing I rely on, the thing that I get angry about irrationally, the thing I get hypocritical about,  the thing I accept as a cover for the sexual abuse of young boys. Actually probably not best to a joke about the last one: for one it doesn’t work as a joke because…well because there needs to be less light-hearted quips about adults raping children.

Football is the closest I have got to something in which I place all my faith and hope. It’s the closest thing I have got to a family (my family rank just after the staff of the canteen at work). Without a sense of hyperbole, Manchester United Football Club is the earliest thing I remember and it will probably be what I am thinking about when I die.

And Mr Sir Alex Ferguson has become the epitome of everything I feel for the club. The players come and go. They say a child having a pet is a good way to help them deal with the loss of human life that we all have to cope with at some stage. Well Bryan Robson retiring was my puppy dying when I was little. Only he’d got old and wasn’t as good at playing football anymore – and I was about sixteen. So, he wasn’t. There is always someone else – there is always a new brilliant player. Well, there has been while SAF has been in charge.

I think I knew how much I loved him. But you take things for granted…you’re more interested in the fancy new players…and it was all about that angry Glaswegian really. I’m aware I’m being overly sentimental here. All I wanted  – between the tears – was someone at some point just to beg him not to go. I am 35 in a couple of months and I honestly thought, more than once, that if everyone in the stadium had refused to go and chanted for him to stay that he might stay. I know.

The saddest thought I had was with about ten minutes left of the game when I just thought if this game could never end it wouldn’t be that bad. If everyone could just keep on being OK with this game never ending…people could have taken turns napping and stuff. He’d have stayed there if the game didn’t finish.

I’m actually OK about the future. I’m not insane. I get time and tide wait for no man. I am comfortable with the new man. I just don’t want that old man to go, indeed him going has been breaking my heart a little bit at a time all week and today it got a bit avalanche-y.

This is the kind of thing you should probably read back to yourself when you lose your job, the kind of thing where you need it all put in perspective.

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