Kick the World Cup into the long grass


Rhian Waller

WORLD Cup fever is infectious, whether you want it to be or not.

While writing a preview World Cup feature for last week’s paper, I asked residents how they would be celebrating.

Many chatted about placing bets, heading to the pub, holding parties with hotdogs and banners and generally having a good time.

Wrexham reporter Charlie Croasdale had an unbroken 100 per cent record when it came to watching every minute of every game until his marathon run came to an end when he fell asleep before the end of the late night Russia v South Korea.

Unsurprisingly, pubs and sports bars across the region have seen a boost with fans flocking to watch the matches in style.

Less typically, football fans have also flooded into a bookshop.

W H Smith in Chester is holding a regular and free “swopsie” session every Saturday up until the final next month for people collecting trading cards or stickers.

Store manager Damian Bellis said: “We had nearly 40 people at the peak of the last session and I expect it to be bigger every week until the final.

“Parents love it as it saves them money. Kids love it as it helps them complete their albums and they are meeting new people.”

Personally, I like the excitement and enthusiasm, the sense of carnival and occasion.

I just don’t like the sport.

There are those for whom football is life and breath. I’m not one of them.

If all of the football players in the world spontaneously evaporated and our collective memories of managers, clubs, leagues and strips were erased, I would be able to continue my life quite cheerfully unaware that anything was missing.

I resent its invasion of my Twitter feed, my Facebook news feed, my pub-time conversations, my workplace and even my personal space. Certain colleagues have taken to watching the TV that hangs above my desk during breaktimes to catch up on match highlights.

I am not alone in this.

Julie Lonergan, 54, of Wrexham, said she would mark the World Cup by  “staying as far away as possible from a TV set!”

Noel Davies, 60, of Wrexham, said: “It’s a disgrace. This spectacle of vandalism and violence is allowed to take over our TV and newspapers for four weeks.”

Karen Murphy, 50, of Wrexham, said: “I wlll celebrate by changing the channel.”

Helen Parry, of Mold, said: “I’m going to a football-free region for four weeks.”

There are a few weeks left during which Helen will have to keep her head down.
Defenders of the World Cup point out that it’s only a month out of the year –  but for that month, football becomes inescapable.

It’s not just in its timeslot. It’s on the news, it’s in the shops, it’s in schools where pupils have been taking part in World Cup Day activities.

That’s great for the ones who want to celebrate, but not so good for those left cold at the sight of 22 men kicking a sphere around a rectangle of grass.

How to cope?

Gary Evans, 53, of Wrexham, proposed a radical move –- football segregation.

He said: “Football has got loads of money. Why can’t they keep it to its own channel?”

Ceri Jones, 28, of Holywell, on the other hand, took his family out of the country.
He said: “We’re in Greece. Not a football in sight.”

Emma Cameron, 51, of Wrexham, said: “I’ve never played so many games on my phone. At the moment, I’m always on my phone.”

Jenni Higgins, 29, of Ellesmere Port, has been relying on a backlog of TV programmes.

She said: “I’ve been watching things that have been recorded or and reading. I have only ever watched one complete football match and I intend to keep it that way!”

Even sports fans are becoming increasingly disgruntled with the content, if not the ubiquitous nature, of the tournament.

Fred Smith, 30, originally of Gwernaffield, said: “I switched off Brazil v Mexico on Tuesday night. It should have been a classic but  modern football is becoming unwatchable thanks to all the diving and petulance.

“The women’s game is much better if you like a whistle-free match.”

Perhaps the best piece of advice came from Olivier Durieux, 38, of Wrexham, who suggested the World Cup could be a chance to rediscover real life.

He said: “We can turn it (the TV) off. I know it is the centrepiece of most of households but it shouldn’t be.

“Switch it off, go for a walk, play with your kids instead of leaving them on the streets, live, get a life rather than vegetating in front of your telly.”

It’s entirely possible to go out and have a good time this summer regardless of whether or not you are interested in football.

Carnival supporter Jane Evans, 44, of Mold, said: “Mold Carnival is being held on World Cup Final day, which is July 13. What better way to enjoy yourself than coming along to the carnival and then watch the final in the evening?”

Or not, if you’d rather just enjoy the fun of the fair.

A spokesman from the Buckley Society said: “BucSoc is a football-free zone, with the exception of Buckley Town FC and any historically valid information.”

Natalie Jones of the Gladstone Library in Hawarden pointed out that the library could provide a haven for non-football fans.

She said: “Cut out the daily reports courtesy of Gary Lineker and  friends and enjoy individual reflection, social interaction, locally sourced food and the freedom to explore our collection of 250,000 items."

The library is mercifully TV free.

How are you coping with the World Cup? Are you enthusiastically watching every match, or is the           ‘ ‘f-word’ banned in your household? Email to share your views.

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