I am a worried man. I know that I‘ve cost Fulham points before and I probably will do again. Thinking back I’m the one to blame for Forlan scoring deep into injury time. People have told me I’m an idiot and that it wasn’t down to me, but I know they’re only trying to humour me and make me feel better. It hasn’t helped any.
But how could I have cost Fulham a European Trophy and so many points over the years? I forgot to carry out my pre-match rituals.
Before I even get close I know it’ll be a good day should I have to sprint the length of Waterloo station. Approaching the ground from Putney I must cross Putney High Street at the right place, drink in the correct pub, I must walk on a certain piece of wall and jump off and land on the right place. If I miss it’s bad news. There’s also lucky pants and a rock hard, well past its best by date, sweet that was bought for me by some friends in the highlands of Scotchland which HAS to attend every game I’m at. I might sound like a maniac (I’ve also got a whole pile of thingsI have to do in normal life too), but my mate is far worse. For him it’s all about wearing a lucky clothing. If we lose a game we change our route to the ground. He has to touch the top of two gate posts and enter the ground through lucky turnstile 37 (or possibly 39, I can’t remember). During the game there’s lucky chewing gum and up goes a shout of “There’s Airwolf!! There’s Airwolf!! We’re gonna win now!!” if a helicopter is seen in the skies above the ground (this one’s now rubbed off to me and I’m attempting to affect others with it too). If he can’t make the game, whoever is sitting in his seat is under strict instructions to carry out these rituals.
Thankfully it turns out I’m not so bonkers as many others have far more ridiculous rituals than me. For instance in my five a side team our ’keeper insists me and him high five and say “Go Moore-Gates!” and slapping my bottom as I run off before a game, another refuses to play unless we pelt footballs at him in warm up (I think he may be a pervert) and another one is already a beaten man and resigns himself to defeat if we see a fella stood outside a Chinese takeaway on our way to the game.
It’s not just us fruit loop supporters who have these pre-match rituals though. The players are just as barmy as us. Paul Ince refused to put his shirt on before he entered the field of play. Andrew Cole refused to score until he’d wasted a dozen good chances in a game. ‘Nando Tores insists on three separate kits being laid out for him. Peter Schmeichel insisted on parrying 100 shots before each game. Bathez used to like nothing more than getting his slap head kissed pre-kick off. David James insists on wearing a new pair of gloves to every game he plays as he likes the ‘new gloves smell.’ Shay Given keeps a vial of holy water behind the goal he’s protecting and the Bristol Rovers ‘keeper (What is it with ‘keepers?) refuses to change water bottles.
“When I walk into the dressing-room the first water bottle I pick up I have to keep with me for the rest of the day. It doesn’t matter how dirty or battered it gets, I can’t use another one or else it’s bad luck.”
“And not only that, but once it’s empty our kitman Roger Harding – and only him – has to refill it from a new bottle. Roger is the only other person allowed to touch my bottle. I don’t let anyone else anywhere near it.”
Note how through this I refrained from using the word ‘superstitions’ to describe my and other peoples habits. This would be because superstitions are ridiculous and a load of hoo-ha that we all know doesn’t work. Whereas my rituals…
What are your pre-match rituals? Re-assure me they do work and it’s not me wasting energy on things which have no real baring on anything. Let me know, please make me feel less of a mental by knowing other people do the same. And that they work…