“Get in there sonni!”

Game 0: President’s Cup

Shamrock Rovers 1-1 Dundalk (Dundalk win on penalties)

Here we go again.

Another season unlike any other is under way. Another season of Watch LoI. Another season wondering when we’re going to get back into stadiums. Another season wondering if referees actually watch football. More on that later. We might eventually get back to normal and be able to take part in our Friday night rituals but for now it’s all about knowing what time and what day your team is playing. Charge your laptop, find your tablet, be prepared.

Another season on Watch LoI means another season of being incapable of avoiding checking Twitter and knowing if a goal is coming or not. Am I the only one who does this? It’s a little bit like watching a horror movie and having someone on Twitter tell you when the jumps are coming. I’m not a fan of it, I don’t condone it, but I absolutely cannot stop doing it. And if you didn’t realize this was the case and now you start doing it? Apologies, my bad.

I’m getting older so the nerves aren’t what they used to be. You used to be able to build a solid foundation on my nerves they were so strong. Now? Dry spaghetti. And like dry spaghetti, if my nerves are introduced to liquid they start to soften, hence an ever growing dependency on alcohol to endure the relentless assault on the nervous system that a big match brings. So when someone suggests that alcohol is not an essential product? I absolutely beg to differ.

Football in the pandemic has been weird. It’s been great but it’s been weird. And maybe I’m over analysing here but I feel like over lockdown the highs aren’t as high as before but the lows are so much lower than before. There’s no one to celebrate with and no one to have a moan with or to lift your spirits. It’s been relentless too.

Mind you, being in lockdown where the only person I actually see in full physical form is my wife has its upsides when dealing with football disappointment. She does not care about football. Not in a mean “why are you getting so worked up over nothing?” kind of way. More in a “go watch the football, I have a million things to do” kind of way. I’ve still not developed the ability to talk after a crushing defeat or a late, late equaliser so I have, and I’m not proud of this, flat out lied to her when, after the game she asks ‘Did they win?’. Sometimes I just say yeah, to avoid having to explain why they didn’t win. She does check live score from time to time so I need to be careful with this trick.

With that in mind, I settled down to watch the Presidents Cup match with Twitter open on my phone and a traditional lockdown Friday night glass of wine. I saw Dundalk get a corner and then on Twitter I saw this;

I slowly moved my glass of red wine away from the computer to a safe distance and celebrated safe in the knowledge that my beverage was clear of danger and VAR wasn’t going to take the goal away from me. I also knew that Liam Scales had scored a watered down, Lidl/Aldi version of a Dennis Bergkamp goal before seeing it. Again, the wine was moved to a safe space.

Remember back when the Bundesliga was the first football league to come back after the pandemic took hold? Do you remember the excitement? How life was finally getting back to some version of normal? That we were going to have football to watch? How exciting that was? Then, can you remember how you felt when you heard Steve McManaman commentating on it? Took the wind out of your sails didn’t it?

Well that’s what the referee did on Friday night. The refereeing equivalent of Steve McManaman commentary. Yes, Sonni did leap through the air. Yes both his feet were off the ground but. BUT. He did get the ball. Yellow card surely. This was an incident where being warned about the future by Twitter led to mild confusion.

“Red card? Wait, he must do something else because he can’t be sent off for that? Nope.”

The referees man. I’m positive this won’t be the last time I mention the referees. Rovers proceeded to not make any chances for the rest of the match which was kind of them. They took that act of kindness one step further by allowing Graham Burke to blast his penalty over the bar with the trophy on the line. He’s just announced that he’s signed a new three year deal with Rovers, I’m sure his penalty will land somewhere during those three years.

A word for our new goalkeeper. You look like a maniac. You will be popular but be prepared for the scorn that will be headed your way in a full Oriel Park when you punch a cross that you should catch!

Man of the match: Sonni Nattestad. Fuck it, why not?

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