The internet is a horrible horrible place. It's anonymous, uninformed, full of regret and reproach, which, come to think of it, could also describe me in my first year of University. Even more horrible is that increasing corner of web space devoted to your average joe's grumblings about the game of football, the 'Footy Blog,' which for all its huffing and puffing is sorely lacking a solid first touch and a good finish.
I'm writing this, quite aware that I'm part of the problem. After a lot of recent surfing through the weedier swamps on the web, I've now come to wonder: who in their good mind wants to write about football? More importantly, why do I write about football? With myriad voices joining an ever-expanding chorus of malformed opinion, much of it belting the same off-key tune, why bother entering the fray when you can bet that some schmoe half-way around the world has 'been there, done that,' often years before you ever discovered the unmitigated mess that is blog culture?
I don't have a good reason. This is not a good blog. I'm sorry. How can I make it up to you? I could get into cold hard reporting, asking the tough questions from the comfort of my padded office or at home in the odd days I can spend any time there. But how exactly? Calling up the MLSE front office and demanding why Mo Johnson has his thumb up his arse while Toronto FC's cripples are a week away from the start of a new season? Fuck that. I can barely reach my TFC ticket rep as it is, and I have to do that on my astonishingly short break.
Do I have some unique opinion or story on the game that everyone else has somehow missed? I thought of providing a sort of leftish overview of the game for awhile, but that's been much more effectively accomplished by sites like Pitch Invasion and Gramsci's Kingdom. Look, sorry that I didn't get my PhD in some esoteric topic and have chosen write about global football issues in my spare time while sipping cappuccinos at my local Fair Trade cafe and palming through Noam Chomsky's latest tome. I've become convinced that if you like politics with your football, you'd be better off taking "The Communist Manifesto" to the park on a Saturday afternoon. It would be just about as entertaining as reading through some of the champagne socialist rhetoric available on the People's Game.
Maybe this could be a Villa blog. Certainly it was going in that direction for awhile. But wouldn't you rather listen to someone who's been actually able to visit Villa Park in the last, oh, my entire life? And how much ink can one spill over a team that gives regular-ish starts to real wunderkinds like Zat Knight and Wilfred Bouma? (Actually, Bouma's had a fairly solid season this year, so I take that back.)
Anyway, I give up. Perhaps football is best enjoyed in a state of Zen-like contemplation without the blah blah blah before, during and afterward. Perhaps the blogs, analysis, journalism only serves to ossify the fleeting bliss incurred from watching ninety minutes of ball-kicking on the flowerless green. I've had a recent taste of what this could be like. For a whole ten minutes here last Sunday on the Score, a technical error meant the Arsenal-Chelsea was heard in all its purity without the familiar incessant prattle of the two British commentators. Missed chances, hard tackles, insouciant defenders with their hands up in Clattenberg's face, all seen and heard without Big Brother interjecting to guide us through it and tell us everything's going to be alright. The error was dutifully corrected, but for a moment the football was left to speak for itself, unaccountable to our pathetic prejudices and opinions. After the moment had passed, much like Aquinas humbled in the light of the Divine Majesty, I looked back over my web spewings and thought, 'So much electronic straw.' But I'll be back I'm sure...