Tag Archives: sport

Two-one, two-one, two-one, two-one…

The people of Liverpool are celebrating, after their football team beat Manchester City yesterday and so reached the top of the Premier League, for the first time in thirty years.

Now, it might surprise regular readers, and those who know me now, to discover that I used to be a Liverpool supporter!

The little town of Ware, where I grew up, wasn’t close to any major football-playing city. I think Tottenham Hotspurs probably counted as our most local team, but it seemed impossibly far away, and there was no particular reason to go to Tottenham. There never is, as far as I can gather.

So in the playgrounds of my youth, the kids claimed allegiance to a wide range of different teams, and I realised that I was going to have to come up with an answer to the regular question, “Who do you support?”. Pointing out that they meant “Whom” clearly wasn’t achieving the desired results. But I was an observant child, and it was immediately apparent that if you responded to that question with the name of a losing team, it resulted in jeers and humiliation. Why would anybody want that? In the 70s, Liverpool seemed to be winning everything, so I decided I was a Liverpool supporter, and life was better, though I was still stumped when they asked, “Who’s your favourite player?”. I don’t think I could name any of them.


I’m not sure when I last actually watched a football match on TV. It certainly wasn’t in this current millennium; but I do vaguely remember seeing a couple of matches of the World Cup in the early 90s, when we were staying with friends who were enthusiasts. And it was an enjoyable experience, partly, perhaps, because I did feel some engagement: I had an opinion on whether England should beat Germany, when I would have had none about the relative merits of Aston Villa vs Manchester United.

I haven’t really had the time to watch any other sports since, I don’t think. (Except the Boat Race, of course – that goes without saying.) Still, all of this history is in some small way commemorated by the fact that I feel glad that the people of Liverpool have been celebrating, though I hope they maintained their social distances while doing so.

Thirty years is, after all, quite a long time to be ridiculed in the playground.

Update: John Naughton pointed me at Simon Kuper’s very readable piece on Why Football Matters. Recommended.

Run for your life?


Tilly and I were surprised, when we arrived at Wimpole Hall for our morning walk, to find about three hundred people in brightly-coloured footwear also arriving at the same time. It was some kind of running event.

Though it was a gorgeous morning and location for doing it, this isn’t an activity that has ever particularly appealed to me, for two reasons. The first is that I learned at school that I couldn’t run to save my life, nor, therefore, partake effectively in any sports which depended on it. This was made clear to me through that strange Darwinian process, peculiar to the school environment, known as Humiliation of the Weakest.

But the second reason is that almost everyone I know who did much running in their youth suffered for it in later life. Running is a system for improving the health of your heart, lungs and arteries at the expense of your knees, legs and feet. This is possibly a trade-off worth making: your life will probably be longer, though you’re likely to spend more of it on an electric scooter in your later years. But unless you actually enjoy it, there are better ways to get fit, and that trade-off is only worth making, I would suggest, if swimming or hiking don’t appeal!

Still, it does appear to be the fad of the decade. On my morning dog-walks across Grantchester Meadows I encounter more joggers these days than cyclists or other walkers, something which would never have been the case a few years ago. And I think a big part of this must be the advent of phones, watches and fitness bands which bring more immediate gamification to what would otherwise be a somewhat tedious and often solitary activity. You can compete against your devices, even when there’s nobody else around, and we humans do respond well to a challenge!

Now, there may be some other reason. I don’t really watch TV, so for all I know there may be some popular ‘Celebrity Jogging’ programme that’s been topping the charts in recent years. But, if it is really down to the gadgets, then they aren’t going to vanish, so perhaps this isn’t just a current trend whose favour will ebb and flow like, say, skateboarding, but a more fundamental and long-term change in the popularity of running.

In which case, it may be time to buy shares in Nike. Or in electric mobility scooters.

S.O.S. – Save our signs

I know very little about spectator sports, as can be demonstrated by the fact that I only found out two days ago that the World Cup was starting yesterday.

However, it’s hard to avoid it completely, so I overheard enough news about unfortunate goals in yesterday’s match to recognise the irony of the banners hanging from the ceiling of a local supermarket:

No doubt the young marketing chappie who thought up this excruciatingly clever play on words now feels a little foolish.

This, of course, is why you really need Digital Signage: so your message can react quickly to changing events!

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser