In a Word . . . Football

 

Watching sport has to be one of the great joys in life for people beyond a certain age. Except for soccer. Is there a more boring game on earth?

And for 90 minutes! Not accounting for all the dives, mock-heroic “fatalities”, endless haggling with referees, and blow-me-down-like-a-leaf dramatic collapses as an opponent comes within five metres.

By contrast it is simply amazing how disciplined rugby players are in what can be some brutally physical games. Even when referees are blatantly wrong, or a Television Match Official decides an obvious try is no such thing, or when a deliberate spear tackle is missed. Discipline rules. Players assume position, and the game goes on.

If it was a soccer match there would be a raucous riot on the pitch at any of those incidents. And please don’t tell me this is a class thing. It is not a class thing in the Welsh valleys, or at Thomond Park, or among All Black Kiwis, even in France.

But whatever the hysterical histrionics of overpaid soccer players, the greatest crime of that game is its sheer, bloody boring dumbness. Compared even to a bad Gaelic match, soccer is about as exciting as watching participants in Operation Transformation on a treadmill. Repeatedly.

As for the king of field games – hurling – it is the Coliseum, the Louvre Museum, a melody from a symphony by Strauss, by comparison.

Though I did see one Gaelic football game last year which made me feel, on the whole, I would have preferred to watch soccer. That was the first Connacht final between Roscommon and Galway in Salthill’s Pearse stadium as the Atlantic took up temporary residence there, assisted by a gale.

Worse than the weather was the defensive play by both teams – each determined not to lose, neither seemingly wanting to win. It ended in a draw as I lay down and wept. Galway won the replay but I didn’t care.

No. The only soccer I will watch voluntarily is edited television highlights or an international involving Ireland. Even then I always bring along a good book to help me through the boring bits – usually most of the 90 minutes.

Football, from Middle English fut ball, Old English fot beal. First historical records are from around 1400, though ball-kicking games date back to the armies of Rome

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