It’s Friday evening. Having felt the europhia of surviving another week’s worth of work, every football fan in the country will be preparing to settle down with a Pizza, a cold beer and Martin Tyler’s dulcet tones, as Friday Night Football serves up another fiery North London Derby, another spirited Huddersfield masterclass, or another Manchester City demolition job. Moving onto Saturday, as we wake bright and early – the one day of the week that the Alarm Clock is not in danger of destruction by comatose hammerings, we watch the mist clear as we set off on our journey to Villa Park… for some just a five minute walk, for others a five hour journey on a cold train; a beer clutched in one hand and the hallowed tickets almost crushed to a pulp in the other. We arrive in B6… and stop. Whether it’s our first journey or our hundredth, the feeling of awe as we catch the first glimpse of the cavernous stadium that is Villa Park will never change. From that moment on, nothing else in the world matters. For the next three hours, it is you, the players, the fans and the football…
But you may decide that now is a good time to wake up, because FIFA have other ideas this weekend. Yes, it’s time for the annual humiliation which is England vs any reputable nation on the planet… here is your expert guide on how to survive the International Break.
Friday, 18:00 hours
Do not; I repeat DO NOT, open a beer. You need to watch the England game in complete sobriety, so that you can see just how awful we are. This will be good for both your immediate and long term health, as there is reduced risk of contracting “hope” in the run-up to the World Cup next summer. My advice is to instead watch a re-run of the 1966 World Cup final, and see just how similar in ability Bobby Moore and Phil Jones actually are…
Friday, 19:45 hours
Time to turn on ITV 1. This will be the most enjoyable part of the evening, because Glenn Hoddle will be reminiscing over the 5-1 victory back when dinosaurs roamed the land, or that 3-2 comeback in Berlin back when birds of prey were given jobs intended for the human species. Also… we won’t be losing, the possession stats will be even, and no fouls will have been committed… I’m not sure Mr Churchill would approve – but then again, nobody watches the adverts at half time- do they?
Friday, 21:30 hours
The Alarm Clock may be in a little danger again, because we will all have undoubtedly drifted back into a comatose state- if you followed my advice about becoming teetotal for the evening then you are a fool. Similarly, any footballer who uses Twitter… so every player in the world… will now be in danger of being blamed for the outcome of the match- even if we win. So please… none of us particularly like Joe Hart too much either… but please, please don’t be that guy.
Saturday, 00:00 hours
Having spent the most depressing evening possible trawling Twitter hashtags and Facebook posts, you will now need to retire to bed. This needs to be the most depressing Friday night imaginable – after all, the aforementioned disease of “hope” has to be dispelled whenever the England Football Team is playing any kind of football match. It is important that you cry yourself to sleep, weeping over the injuries that Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Harry Winks and Dele Alli have been burdened with – and that are the sole reason, along with the incompetence of every coach we have ever had, that we will never win another World Cup.
Saturday, 12:00 hours
Rise and shine, my migraine suffering friends. Bacon and eggs are in the fridge, and then it’s time to have a look at the lesser teers of English football – the EFL. League 1 and 2 games will be continuing over the International Break, and that gives us a chance to see what the likes of Nathan Delfouneso and Isiah Osbourne are up to these days. If you can suffer through the day of EFL football, then you are owed a standard Saturday night… a night where you do not feel compelled to look at Gary Lineker’s ears for two hours.
With no Super Sunday, why not get to know your family? Sit down for an episode of Antiques Roadshow or Homes Under the Hammer… and simply try your very best to keep hold of your sanity for another week…