Football is back and with it my palpable sense of dread - Alexander Brown

Football is back, and with it the constant and overwhelming sense of dread for every fixture and cup draw.

Anthony Ralston of Celtic celebrates with teammate James Forrest after scoring his team's first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Heart of Midlothian and Celtic at Tynecastle Park on July 31, 2021. Picture: Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Not content with the incessant transfer talk that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, we now face the real horror of watching people actually play the thing.

And look, I love football, I love reading about football, I love watching football, I love playing football. If I'm ever unfortunate enough to have gone on a run I distract myself by recreating celebrations.

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But I want to give it up. I want to sack it off, banish it from my mind, and rid myself of this time sink that dictates so much of our lives.

The office banter when your team does poorly, the anger at players I love unconditionally, despite having no real connection to them beyond the shirt they are wearing.

And what shirts they are, often costing close to £100, and adorned with gambling sponsors that kill communities or airlines run by states that jail people for being gay.

First we should address the elephant in the room - I support Tottenham Hotspur, a club so hilariously close to but never actually achieving anything I’ve had to mute the word “bottling” on Twitter.

I do not expect them to win anything, but there’s a grim realisation that it isn’t really ever your turn. If a club wins one year, they selfishly try and do it again the next.

Manchester City, a club who’ve won the Premier League three out of the last four seasons, have just spent £100 million on Jack Grealish, who does not start for England, and are also trying to sign Harry Kane.

All top clubs try to sign good players, Manchester City simply stockpile them.

It could be worse, I could support Celtic, but why persevere when we know how it ends?

But it’s not just the results that make me want to walk away, it’s the exhaustion of putting so much time and emotional energy into something that simply never ends. If I wanted to waste hours on people I’ll never meet, I’d simply redownload Hinge.

And there always is more, one season ends and another begins. It’s at least one day a week for most of the year, forever.

Then there’s internationals or foreign leagues, with games constantly available if you just take out one more subscription.

The pandemic has been relentless, forcing our social lives almost entirely online, something I at least pretend was a change from staring at my phone every night until I pass out.

But things are getting better, and I can’t justify not seeing friends I’ve not seen for a year to stay in and watch players I couldn’t pick out of a line-up.

But I would, in a heartbeat. I am someone who has met a partner’s parents before and streamed the Champions League final at dinner, a match between two teams I don’t even support.

I want to walk away, cast off this stone around my neck.

But then what will I talk to my dad about? And this season might be good. Crowds are back, I can’t miss that. And new signings, that'll change things.

I still want to quit football, but I should see how this season goes first. Maybe next year.

Alexander Brown is a columnist for Scotland on Sunday and The Scotsman’s Westminster Correspondent

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