Sunday, 31 July 2011

A Long Summer



Some people who know me are of the opinion I’m a miserable old so-and-so. Okay, that’s not strictly 100% accurate - it’s most people who know me. And this includes members of my family. In fact, particularly members of my family…My levels of grumpiness have been even higher than usual these last few weeks. You could argue this could be down to any number of things - the wet summer (and when the sun does make a rare appearance the high pollen count), pressure of work, not having a decent holiday until the end of August, the incessant natterings of the infamous Mrs Smith…all of these are factors. However, the biggest one is, I suspect, familiar to many people  the absence of fitba’.

Last summer we at least had the World Cup to fill the void, even though Scotland didn’t participate (as it turned out neither did England even though they were in South Africa) This year there’s been nothing. Until this afternoon's disappointing display against Dundee United, it had seemed like an eternity since Hearts played a competitive game at Tynecastle. However, even with season 2011/12 kicking off early the long summer weeks seemed to have dragged by.

The days of scouring the newspapers for little titbits about football have long gone. Now the internetFacebook and Twitter can give you information immediately in an age when we demand instant communication. Hearts themselves were offering a text messaging service to deliver first news of the fixtures for the new season. Those of us yearning for our football fix had already marked 17 June as a red-letter day. Mrs Smith has always struggled to understand the anticipation associated with the issue of the new fixture list. She is of the opinion that as Hearts have to play everybody in the Clydesdale Bank SPL at some point what does it matter when and where? That is the opinion of someone who doesn’t understand football.

Most Hearts supporters wasted little time in checking their text messages or various websites that morning in order to plan their lives for the next few months. First Edinburgh derby of the season? 28 August. Right, no going away for the weekend at the end of that month then. Fancy a nice wee trip to the Highlands? Hmm - 10 September would be nice. A relaxing couple of days on the banks of Loch Ness in late summer - just the thing to recharge the batteries. Oh, and Hearts are playing Inverness Caledonian Thistle. I suggested to Mrs Smith that, for a change, we could visit her family in Aberdeen a couple of days after Christmas. Well, she knows how fond I am of her mother…What’s that I hear you say? Hearts are playing at Pittodrie on 28 December? Well, what a remarkable coincidence (I know, dear reader, you won’t say a word to Mrs Smith)

This summer the anticipation of the domestic fixtures was surpassed by the draw for the third qualifying round of the Europa League on 15 July. Now planning for this was more of a challenge. At least with the domestic fixtures we knew where we would be heading in the months ahead - just not when. With the Europa League, there was any number of possibilities. A trip to Croatia to face Hajduk Split? Or Cyprus to face Omonia Nicosia? Or a trip to Ireland to face Sligo Rovers? It’s six years now since I took Mrs Smith to Dublin for a weekend in July. The presence of several passengers on the flight from Edinburgh wearing maroon and white scarves immediately alerted her to the real reason we were going - Hearts pre-season friendly against St. Patrick’s Athletic.

The release of the Clydesdale Bank SPL fixtures and the Europa League draw were the highlights of a long and far from hot summer that seemed to take an age to pass me by. Sad, I know, but I’ve felt pretty much the same way every summer since 1969. Apart from 1982 when I got married in the middle of June. Even then, Scotland were playing in the World Cup Finals in Spain…

Now fitba’ is back. All is right with the world again. Until ten months from now when we have to go through it all again…

2 comments:

  1. All is right with the world again.....?
    Hmmm

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