Perfect Father’s Day gift for the discerning football fan
Euro 2016 kicked off last night with a rather tame 2-1 win for France over Romania. Regular visitors to this site will know that I am not particularly enamoured with international football. That might actually be a little misleading. I love the World Cup, there is no bigger tournament or festival of football, and I adore the Euros for the slightly more cultured and cordial celebration of the greatest game.
Europeans are a lot more emotionally restrained than our brothers from other continents, you won’t find us bawling jingoistic proclamations in an aggressive trance-like state, blowing strange horns or duteously cheering and clapping as though our lives quite literally depend on it. As a typical Brit, I am far too emotionally strangled to get that worked up over my country kicking a ball around whilst sober. Perhaps therein lies the answer to our troubles with hooliganism; it’s an alcohol fuelled attempt to shed our emotional armour and fervently display our patriotism without fear of being judged as or feeling like terrible colonial racists. That or we’re just a bunch of uneducated louts who find themselves reduced to the meanest form of Neanderthalic urges whilst under the influence.
Truth be told, I’ve completely fallen out of love with England. I just can’t find the motivation to form an emotional attachment to their performances or results like I used to. It is possible I expend so much visceral energy hoping for and willing Arsenal to win things that I have nothing left for England. I find following England in all other sports comes quite naturally but football I couldn’t give a toss about. I still watch them of course and am pleased if they do well but I find more romanticism in England’s past than I do their present or future — such moments as immortalised in sartorial and artistic fashion by Art of Football in their ’50 years of hurt’ range.
So instead of using international competitions to reinforce my national pride — that’s what the Olympics is for — I follow these tournaments with the eye of a Gooner. I watch the players we have and those we hope to have. Last night was far more enjoyable because Olivier Giroud played so well and that is something he can bring back to Arsenal in August.
I shall watch Wales, Germany, Spain and Switzerland with great interest hoping for a resurgence in form for Aaron Ramsey, a continuance of Özil’s, an average tournament for Spain so the Barcelona lot can’t get their claws into Bellerin too much, and a better look at Xhaka with a more biased eye.
I shan’t be cheering on these teams as such but I will feel more of a connection to them than I will my own country. My mother’s partner thinks that is absolutely bonkers and can’t fathom why I’m not even slightly interested in England as an Englishman especially when I’m so passionate about England in other sports. It’s caused more friction than the EU Referendum!
As a peace offering, and with Father’s Day in mind, I decided to get him a little gift from my son for his ‘Grandad’. Initially it was going to be a novelty item but then the guys at Art of Football told me about their new England range. I have quite a few items from Art of Football, including t-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with artistic interpretations of some of Arsenal’s greatest moments and players. I highly recommend buying items from them (there’s a little picture ad on the sidebar, click on it to check out their Arsenal stuff); the items are always professionally presented in a stylish box and wrapped in classy paper and the quality of the garment itself far exceeds the reasonable prices.
I mentioned earlier in this blog that I feel a greater connection to England’s past and the ’50 years of hurt’ collection evoked some great memories for me. As always, they’ve captured the spirit and essence of why people love football and expertly transferred it onto wearable memorabilia. It was immediately clear to me what I would gift instead of a novelty item. I opted for the 1966 motif as it’s his favourite topic of discussion when England comes up. I say discussion, it’s more of a monologue on why English football has lost its identity and will never match the passion of Bobby and co.
I’m not looking forward to another 60 minutes of why Charlton and Moore are better than any player I’ve ever watched at Arsenal like Adams, Campbell, Henry, Özil, Vieira or Bergkamp (this despite him too being an Arsenal fan) so I’m hoping the shirt will have its usual effect and will render him speechless. As Father’s Day gifts go I don’t think you can get much better for the discerning football fan so get your order in quick.
My only concern is the breaking of the novelty gifting might make him believe I care about him and we can’t be having that. We’re British for goodness sake!
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