Last weekend I was taken by the boyfriend to watch my first big proper football match all the way at Wem-ber-ley. Now as a bit of back history, although I whole heartedly love women’s football, years of going to the rugby has made me a bit of a snob towards football as far as the men’s game goes. It’s not just the diving and sniper on the roof type collapses and the fact that players are made more money in a week than some families will earn in their lifetime, but also the mad behaviour of some of the fans. Once, whilst watching my local Fulham play, I was too fascinated by the 12 year old boy hurling a stream of words at the opposition fans that probably would have made my granny’s ears fall off to be horrified. In short, I like football, but really don’t like the paraphernalia that goes on around it. (Man punching a police horse for example)
Luckily then that we had tickets for the Sunday leg of the FA cup semi final and not the Saturday Millwall vs. Wigan punch up match. So we settled in, watched the game, stared at Roy Keane (who was sat behind me eating chocolate buttons – true story) and then something weird happened to me. I found myself looking on at the mad incoherent chanting, Poznańing, inflatable banana waving (why?) and two different shades of blue and getting caught up in it. For a few glimmering seconds I could see what the fans were on about, I could see the pride, the excitement, it was all there opening up to me like a glimmering stairway to football heaven. And then, in a second, it was gone.
It was gone because someone took a shot on goal and missed by about 50 miles. It wasn’t the awful display of accuracy that irritated me, more the streams of wolf whistles coming from the crowd that followed it. I hate wolf whistling. I hate wolf whistling because it’s never a compliment and because it’s basically someone saying they’re letching over you at that moment in time. The same goes from car horn honking and stupid comments. But I hate it more because it’s only ever something that’s done by men to women.
So, when a male footballer get’s the same reaction from his male counterparts for messing up a shot as a woman would for well, being a woman, it makes my brain click into overdrive. By messing up, the player has been downgraded to being a woman. And so, in a mere few seconds watching the match on Sunday I realised just how far women’s football has to go to gain the respect and position they deserve in the footballing world. Coincidently we all know that if that player had scored, he would have been The Man.
And now for something completely different:
Despite the above I did actually really enjoy the game and was further enthused on not only finding an advert for the WSL in the programme that about every one of the 86,000 people there were clutching, but also another digital add running along the bottom of the pitch every now and again. I’m not going to lie, I got a bit emotional.