A Boxing Day slip-up

29 12 2016

In Europe most countries take a winter break during their football season (that’s soccer for those of you of a North American persuasion). Given the cold, wet climate that would seem pretty sensible. Britain, of course, does not. Not only that, but games played over Christmas regularly attract the highest attendances of the season. When I was a kid teams actually played local derbies on Christmas Day itself, with the reverse fixture played 24 hours later, but nowadays they’ve settled on a full Boxing Day programme with two more games to play in the coming week.

I was particularly excited about this year’s fixture list as my favourite team, Southampton (known by all as the Saints), were playing my brother Mike’s favourite team, Tottenham Hotspur (known as Spurs by their fans and ‘those north London ba$tards’ by everyone else), and the game was going to be televised.

Over the years Spurs have definitely had the better of Southampton and Mike has rarely been slow to point this out. Determined to stake out the high moral ground, I phoned Mike ten minutes before kick off (7.45 pm British time, 11.45 am here on the west coast) to suggest that there was no need to phone each other every time our team scored – we could just have a nice, civilised chat once the game was over.

Well, that plan went straight out the window when Saints scored barely 60 seconds into the game. It was like reaching for that third mince pie – I knew I shouldn’t but I just couldn’t help myself: I rang Mike immediately. He was pretty good about it, but did point out that there were still 89 minutes left. And, of course, karma kicked in: 15 minutes later Spurs equalised. Surprisingly, Mike didn’t call. Early in the second half Spurs went ahead. Still no call. Saints conceded a penalty and had a player red-carded. Still no call. Spurs scored a third. Nothing. Finally, 30 seconds after Spurs went 4-1 up, the phone rang. Sure enough, call display showed Mike’s number. I picked up the phone and, without giving him the chance to speak, I said “Well, you can f#ck off for a start.” There was a pause… and then my 84 year old mum, without missing a beat, said “And a very Happy Christmas to you too, darling!”

So that’s me out of the will, then.

Love you, Mum!

Your truly penitent son


(Oh, and Mike – well played, both you and Spurs!)