Tony Gillan: The ‘greatest’ show on earth is once again upon, yes football makes a welcome return

Sunderland fans in good voice.
Sunderland fans in good voice.
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Most of our beloved football will be back this weekend with the rest of it, the Premier League, returning the week after. Gerrin!

This is clearly wonderful news in itself, but there is an additional benefit that I personally find very gratifying. It really annoys football haters.

Now, we all have different hobbies, interests and obsessions, so people without interest in the world’s biggest and greatest sport don’t bother me. Each to their own and what-not. We can overlook this defect (because that’s what disliking football amounts to). It’s largely inoffensive.

The individuals who deserve to suffer are the ones who loudly pronounce their hatred of football and expect a round of applause to ensue. They were out in force during the Euros, loudly bewailing the fact that 51 matches were being broadcast, some of them contested entirely by foreigners.

Those proclaiming that the rescheduling of Coronation Street from Wednesday to Thursday to accommodate football was “ridiculous” are, frankly, very easily outraged and not to be taken seriously; even if they are very irritating.

They had a point in the days when the viewing choice was either football or the potter’s wheel. Now that everyone has an average of four billion television channels available for their perusal, that argument is somewhat obsolete.

I have zero interest in cookery, gardening, DIY, cars, pets, property, antiques, dancing, bad singers being humiliated, the countryside, most sports apart from football, charvers undergoing paternity tests or Phillip Schofield.

However, I don’t want anything from this list to be removed from our screens or even limited, because – and this is an impossible concept for football haters – other people might like them. There I’ve said it.

Disliking footy does not add to a person’s intellect. You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise from listening to what passes for humour among the game’s detractors; people like that greasy bloke from Eggheads.

The oh-so clever and witty vitiation from those who lack the imagination to love football is always the same and it’s highly unlikely that you have never heard it before.

Zzzzz: “It’s just 22 men kicking a ball about. Hur! Hur! Hur! Hur!” (we shall pass lightly over the fact that women play football too).

Or if they’re being particularly clever and witty: “It’s just 22 men kicking a bag of air about. Hur! Hur! Hur! Hur!”

Or if they’re being superly-duperly clever and witty: “It’s just 22 men kicking an inflated pig’s bladder about. Hur! Hur! Hur! Hur!”

Yes, individuals with delusions of adequacy actually laugh at this sort of thing.

It never occurs to them that what they say is patently untrue. If football really was just 22 men kicking a ball about then it wouldn’t be the greatest show on earth; which it is. So maybe, just maybe, there is more to the game than this banal and dismissive description would suppose.

Besides, no human endeavour can withstand such a witless critique.

The complete works of Shakespeare would be: “Just some words that people in tights have memorised.”

A Lamborghini: “Just bits of metal on wheels.”

Crime & Punishment: “Just ink on some bits of paper.”

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon: “Some plants.”

The Moon Landing: “Just a couple of blokes prancing about on a big rock.”

The First World War: “Just a big fight.”

You can think of your own. It’s fun.

Anyway, the just 22 men kicking a ball about season is upon us once more, which is wonderful news for anyone who is normal.

If you are somehow offended by the return of the most wonderful sport in all of human history, or by the content and sentiment of this article – good.

You deserve to be offended.