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The soul of the game

So, in a break from my usual short missives, I’m going to delve into the murky world of Zero Hours Catering Man, my highly ineffectual superhero alter-ego.

Zero Hours Catering Man was stalking the restaurant floor of St George’s Park, spiritual home of English football (since 2012) sweeping the crumbs of tyranny and small flaky things of fear into the long-handled-dustpan-with-no-name of the criminal justice system, when he heard,

Ah, mate. I won loads betting on MK Dons on Saturday

You were screaming at the telly come the final whistle man!

The sounds of a conscience in trouble! 

Karl Robinson is an absolute legend

Terrifying misuse of the word legend

Benik Afobe is gonna be amazing at that level

He was bollocks for us, thought Zero Hours Catering Man. But, the defender of Truth Justice and the Yorkshire Way knew what needed doing.


But the youths did not understand. For they were younger than Zero Hours Catering Man, and had grown up in a world where MK Dons were an accepted part of life. Their blank faces prompted Zero Hours Catering Man to wisely move onto a new table, and attack the villainous breakfast debris with gusto, whilst surveilling his targets as a new youth came into hearing.

I remember the first time I went to Uni and signed into BetFred with that £10 voucher. put six of it on Liverpool and was hooked mate. Couldn’t stop

Oh, mate, tell me about it! I can’t even bring myself to care about games when I don’t have an accy on these days. Not supporting a club.

He must mean an Accumulator, thought Zero Hours Catering Man. I’m cracking their code! If only these flaky bits of croissant were so easily under my command…


How the hell do you get to a situation where you don’t care about a club, or football in general unless there are a series of linked bets on it? One lad had previously explained he “just preferred certain teams” but even then had no logic to it. Presumably his long standing, vaguely positive ambivalence’s towards Stoke and Swansea were due to both of them coming up on bets for him semi-regularly. It’s certainly not about their playing style when he was younger, and more impressionable.

At that stage I wonder two things;
1) How all pervasive is the masculine gambling culture for these lads that EVERY SINGLE ONE of the teenage lads there was describing their ridiculous accumulators and correspondingly ridiculous celebrations when one came in?
2) How poisonous is it to football when some of them stop even passively identifying with a club on T.V. and instead bond with the process of gambling instead?

It made me genuinely sad that the restaurant they were having this morally vacuous conversation in contained my favourite pictures from the whole Hilton complex. Bobby Moore featured heavily in the corridors to rooms, goalkeepers seemed prevalent in the bar, but in the restaurant they had four photos; terrace barriers, a shed-cum-ticket office, a linesman stood in the pissing rain and a hand-painted sign reminding fans that “Foul language will find the offender ejected.”

With precious little else to like about the English game, the continued existence of these volunteer run, community clubs is the one aspect of the game in England I love. Fiver on it surviving without these pillocks till 2066.



2 thoughts on “The soul of the game

  1. I’ve got a fiver each way on the Owls being promoted this season at 40-1. If it happens I’ll be richer and happier.


    Posted by john d | August 27, 2014, 10:27 am

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