Did you enjoy the mid-season break or did the weekend just gone see you having withdrawal symptoms from the SSE Airtricity League? It was only one week fallow but perhaps it felt like more? I have to say I enjoyed the break. I took it literally; it was a mid-season break so I switched off completely from domestic soccer and took a deep dive into the FIFA World Cup, watching 2 or 3 matches a day.
I was surprised to find myself enjoying the World Cup so much given the disappointment of us not having qualified. Perhaps it removes a certain amount of pressure when your country is not there. You’re not waiting nervously for the games, wondering if you’ll play well or get a result. It’s the same sort of feeling as when you go to a game as a neutral, you’ve no direct vested interest other than to enjoy the skill and entertainment of the contest.
I don’t think I’d have given as much attention to the World Cup this past week if we’d had domestic games running. It’s all very well watching all these great players and great nations in fantastic stadiums battling to get out of their groups, but all you’re doing is watching, you’re not actually there. It’s the same problem I have with the English Premier League games or any televised soccer – it lacks something because you’re not physically present.
There’s no substitute for going to a live game. The excitement as you get ready to leave, whether it’s to travel or just walk down the road. The buzz around the ground. Buying your programme and settling into your seat. Seeing everything that’s going on and not just what the television cameras pick up. The banter with the other fans. Spending time with the family or friends that maybe came to the game with you.
So it’s back to business this week. Bray are away and so are Shelbourne so I’ll choose between the Bohemians versus St Patricks Athletic Dublin derby or the Cabinteely versus Finn Harps clash in the First Division. Or rather I’ll let Blaise choose – you’re not your own master when you have a seven year-old boy to cater for!
It might take a bit of re-adjusting, now that the league is resuming, to not having VAR to help with the decision making. I’ve been impressed with it in the World Cup. Wrong penalty awards overturned, penalties not awarded given. Apparent fouls looked at again to see if an offence was actually committed or if it was a dive. I didn’t find that going to VAR disrupted the games too much. Can we get it for the SSE Airtricity League, Mr Delaney?