The conflict in a football game is a metaphor of what happens in real life, played out by a team of players who have individual personalities and goals that are simultaneously operated in service of the team winning, and that of personal development and glory.
This is why it's so cathartic to go to a match. It's also a place where you can shout and yell at the top of your voice, and that's normal. Something that is seen as completely antisocial in everyday life has a place and time where it's almost de rigeur.
It was Offsprog Two's suggestion, and we nearly changed our minds because I have friends who (I think) picked up Covid at a football match, but we decided to go even though it was cold and foggy.
The Barnet ground used to be in Barnet, just down from the tube station. I still really miss it- the chants that swelled up the hill on wintry Saturday afternoons, the super-bright lights that shone through the gloom as you drew into the station after a day's work on a Tuesday. The sloping pitch itself, and the terraces. The mad fans, home or away, who one day raced down the High Street into a bathroom shop. One of them sat on a toilet in the window display roaring with laughter, his mates in the street doubled up with glee.
The stadium moved several years ago. It stopped being a spontaneous decision to go. I'd seen Arsenal play a 'friendly' in which they scored (I think) 18 goals against a team that they consistently cherry-pick the best players from, in a really ungracious victory that passed the Arsenal fans by. I'd seen a lot of losing, but also a lot of good playing.
The new stadium is in Stanmore, almost, and is difficult to get to. I had to drive, which is an activity that I have been trying to cut down on. A talkative crow gave me detailed instructions about how to use the parking payment machine, which were more easy to understand that the printed instructions on the machine itself.
We walked with the other fans down to the stadium in a cold fug of alcohol and Chesterfield accents. They knew they were going to win, but we had gone to watch a match and support Barnet, so that didn't matter.
In the first half, Chesterfield conserved their energy, watching to see which Barnet players to take out. In the second half, they got number 19. I said to Offsprog Two, 'Watch number 11: they'll get him next'. Sure enough, they did. Also, pushing players when the referee's attention is occupied elsewhere is not a good look, and there was rather a lot of that going on.
The Chesterfield away fans were in full voice and celebrated the triumph of four goals with roars and chants that practically blew the top off the away shed. The Barnet fans took a dislike to their player number 22, a tall chap with a ponytail who was giving instructions to the team. 'Look out for number 22!' shouted one of our number. I don't think the referee needed to be told, because at one point number 22 had laughed in his face.
Got to hand it to the Barnet team, they carried on regardless. They have plenty of stamina and they defended consistently throughout the game, even though they were playing a clearly more experienced team.
About ten minutes before the game finished, some disappointed Barnet fans began to drift away, including dads'n'kids. I did feel that was a bad life lesson, to bail out before the game has finished when you're losing.
It was a bad decision too, because in the last two minutes Barnet gave us a goal. What a masterpiece of defiance. I loved that.
It was better than winning, and you should have heard the cheer we gave them!