I guess most football fans enjoy watching their team when the sun is shining and it’s nice and hot. But I like it when it is cold and there’s a covering of snow on the pitch and you’re sat or stood with fellow fans wrapped up in warm clothes with a bobble hat on your head.
But why is that you may ask? Am I related to Eskimos or come from the wilds of Siberia? The answer is no and I don’t eat whale blubber or go fishing with a homemade spear in fact I was born in Coventry in the sunny West Midlands and not in a town in Outer Mongolia !
So why this love for the beautiful game played in a chilly climate then? I think it stems from my childhood as my first recollection of watching a football match was when my team Coventry City were playing their home games at Highfield Road and I remember piles of snow heaped up along the sides of the pitch, the ball being bright orange and the floodlights being on in the afternoon. And to me a young kid it was magical.
Games back then were rarely called off, in fact I went to many winter matches when the pitch was blanketed in thick snow and there was a gale blowing on the open terraces. But for some strange reason it didn’t really bother me as I must have thought the game hasn’t been abandoned so clap your hands and stamp your feet and cheer on the Sky Blues just like all the other hardy souls in the ground.
A highlight of the winter calendar was the Boxing Day match and back in the 60’s/70’s that meant icy conditions and a rock hard pitch and if it was at home the ground was packed to the rafters. I remember a match we played one Boxing Day verses the mighty Liverpool when in their star studded team were the likes of Ian St John, Roger Hunt, Ian Callaghan, Peter Thompson and tough guy Ron Yeats. Once again heaps of the cold stuff was piled up but still the pitch was pure white and players were slipping and sliding about struggling to maintain a foothold which added to the drama and excitement.
I had only seen these Liverpool greats in football annuals and on cigarette cards that all us football mad kids collected so to see them in the flesh up close was a dream come true. It was a cracking game which ended in a 1-1 draw, but I couldn’t wait for the next day to come so I could go over the fields with my mates and play football with my new bright shiny orange ball and pretend to be Roger Hunt or Ian St John and go home covered from head to toe in snow. How my mum must have laughed!
Another wintry match I attended was when no other than the great George Best was playing for Manchester United at Highfield Road and even though he didn’t turn on his magic tricks that afternoon it was funny to hear young schoolgirls screaming every time he was on the ball and I’m sure one or two lads joined in with them as he did have the pop star aura about him. So I’ve tried to explain why I’ve this liking for football played in the raw and not in the heat and the only explanation for it is me being strangely attracted to snow and bright orange leather footballs. Quick nurse Kevin needs his medication!
by Kevin Halls