Date:Friday August 4 2006
Slowly over the last couple of weeks the tension has started to build up in the majority of football fans. It doesn’t matter if you are expecting to be at the top of the league or fighting at the bottom, as the opening game gets closer, pulses starts to race.
It feels like an eternity since it last happened, you find yourself searching through your video collection for a greatest goals video or you end up watching the masters tournament. You just want the wait to be over, you want the pain/ecstasy, heartbreak/euphoria to start again.
Finally its the night before and you struggle to sleep because you know that when you wake up in the morning its finally here. You go to bed like a kid waiting for Christmas; you struggle to sleep and may even give a silent prayer for a good result tomorrow.
The next morning you wake up with a spring in your step, you go to the wardrobe and pull out the top you’re going to wear. It maybe the lucky top that you always go to games in, a shirt that you hope is going to become a lucky one this season or it could be the new club shirt that has been released, even though they only released one last season.
Carefully you take it off the coat hanger and for a moment you stare and smile. Its as if you are looking at a long lost relative, you’re tempted to kiss the badge but realise that if anybody saw you they would start questioning your sanity.
The next couple of hours can be spent doing various different activities. Some people might go to the pub and meet up with their fellow supporters to have a few pre-game drinks; others stay in and watch the build up on the television. Whatever it is you do, it seems to take a lifetime before it’s actually time to start heading off towards the ground.
Whilst waiting for the minutes to tick down you start to analyse the summer signings and what you can realistically expect from the forthcoming season. You can guarantee that there will always be some who predict relegation and a season of torment and then a small minority who have blind faith that it will be the best season ever.
Eventually the time arrives and you finally head off towards the ground. Whilst walking down the street you have fans on either side of you and as you turn the corner it rises before you. The stadium looks as if it is groaning beneath the weight of a new season and the fans taking their seats in the stands.
At last you’re at your gate, you walk through the turnstile ripping the slip off your ticket and you enter the underbelly of the stadium. There is anticipation in the air, which you can only get at the beginning of the season. The start of a season allows fans to hope that this season could be ‘their’ season. You have to think slowly before you do anything, any pie bought before the game or toilet break could see you following the same pattern for future games.
Although you try not to, you give into temptation and risk a Balti pie; you force the magma like contents down your mouth. Due to the scolding hot contents of the pie you burn the top of your mouth and so you order another pint to try and ease the pain. You notice that even though it’s the first game of the season the catering is running out of food and drink, It’s good to see somethings never change.
Before you make the journey to your seat you have to pay a quick visit to the toilet. It could be due to pre match nerves or the several pints you drunk before the game.
You walk up the steps towards your seat, your breathing starts to slow down, it’s as if you are walking out of the tunnel onto the pitch. As you reach the top step you hope for a slight cheer that never comes. You stop and take a deep breath and look around you see the stadium in all its glory with fans starting to take their places. Finally your home again, this is your sanctuary.
Although you have seen the stadium hundreds of times before you still look all around and take in the atmosphere. As you walk to your seat you nod and say hello to fans that you have come to talk to during previous seasons. You don’t even know some of their name, but after several seasons you feel like you know them.
Finally you reach your sit with a couple of seconds to spare; you stay standing and start to fidget from one foot to another. The anticipation starts to build up again as you realise that it’s about to begin; the hurt of the World Cup seems a long distant memory. You start to applaud as both the teams walk out of the tunnel, you stay standing as they warm up and comment on who is looking fit and who seems to have struggled to get rid of their summer weight.
You sit down in your seat as the noise level slowly starts to rise, it feels like a rumble of thunder in the distance which is slowly getting louder. Finally it’s here, It’s as if you have never been away! All the pain of last season drifts away and you are filled with a sense of ambition and belief. As the referee blows his whistle and the players kick off a roar goes up all around the ground…COME ON!
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