I know this may come as a surprise to some, but there was a time when football didn't exist. Then, two blokes in a pub wondered if you filled a pigs bladder with air could you kick it about? They took their idea to Jules Rimet and football was born. Ok, so I skipped a bit!
But when did God start taking an interest in the beautiful game, surely the omnipotent one is far to busy to care about how Scunthorpe are doing on a Saturday? Still it seems a lot of people firmly believe He really does care about football and takes an active interest in every game.
I am an Atheist and I firmly believe, God or luck or the fact that you're wearing particular underpants, has absolutely no bearing on the fact that you're playing Stoke away. I mean how could it. It's totally illogical and stupid when you think about it.
As I write the news is full of the terrible devastation in Japan and it serves as a timely reminder of the tenuous grip we have on existence, on this tiny rock hurtling through the vastness of Space. Some people are saying that this puts things into perspective. That in the face of such calamities football is unimportant and trivial. Well I disagree, it's at times like these that football is incredibly important. What a glorious affirmation of existence it is, how it draws us all together and indeed how could God ignore it?
While we as supporters have superstitions we are way behind the players themselves, like Paul Ince who wouldn't put his shirt on until he was on the pitch or Lineker refusing to take shots on goal during the warm up, it begs the question, what does it say about a game that relies on skill, fitness and technique that the participants think they need luck as well. All those years training, building strength and fitness, endless hours honing technique, ultimately rely on the foibles of some mischievous deity? And if God does indeed take an interest in football exactly who does he support? Is he for one team over another? Is he a 'band-wagoner', simply favouring the flavour of the month? Or is he just a cheeky fucker messing with our heads? The great armies of the world throughout history all claimed He was on their side. Is football the same? If we score an OG against Spurs is He a Spurs fan and vice versa?
The South African golfer Gary Player famously once said "the more I practice the luckier I get!", and there's the answer right there. In football, nine times out of ten, the better team with the more skillful players will invariably win. You may have exceptions like Cup games but is this not simply an inferior team raising their game against a superior opposition dropping theirs?
With extensive tactical, physical and dietary regimes being put into action by most clubs, science is coming more and more to the fore. I read somewhere recently that footballers may be 'chipped' to enable clubs to have an ongoing and up to date assessment on any players physical condition, allowing them to pre-empt any injuries or dietary problems that may occur.
So what next? Will there come a time when the players are replaced with machines, flawless robots who are never injured, cognizant enough in physics to be able to control trajectory and probability, to take the game to its purest form, where the team with the best engineers will always win, where there will be no more room for God!!
My point is this, football is beautiful, exciting and compelling because it is flawed. It is flawed because we play it and follow it and we are flawed. The Ref, the Linesman, the whole organisation, flawed. The day it becomes perfect in every way is the day it will cease to exist as a sport, then it will be down to two blokes in a pub to come up with something else which we will force God to take an interest in.
So support your fabulously flawed team, and remember that the fact that they're not perfect is the reason you support them in the first place.
And heres to knocking Utd out of the Cup this weekend. We have the better players so we should win easily.
Fingers Crossed!!. COYG.