I’ve found that I’ve settled into a routine when it comes to watching football at the weekend. Match of the Day with all its Premiership hubris is good Saturday night viewing. The Football League Show is best kept for Sundays.
The Premiership is the equivalent of watching a Hollywood blockbuster. Its all big explosions and grand stunts based on a contrived two-dimensional storyline. It’s the weekend escape from the trudge of the working week, enjoyable escapism that offers little beyond basic entertainment.
Conversely, the Football League is a warming award winning documentary you stumble across on BBC4. With a week of work ahead, it reminds you that life has meaning and purpose allowing you to head for bed with a renewed energy for life.
Worlds apart then, and yet, we arrive at Upton Park and there’s something very familiar about it. It’s the vultures circling in the sky. They were at the Kassam the day we went down, packing the press box looking for a good, solid story of human grief.
There is much hand-wringing around the Boleyn Ground too. The media have decided West Ham are this year’s club in crisis. Uncle Avram Grant skulks around like a character from a film who everyone thinks eats children but turns out to be a kindly misunderstood old man looking for his long lost granddaughter. There is misery and the whiff of failure all around.
Of course, in reality, they don’t know they’re born. We’re playing without fear, they were weighed down with it. We walk away with our heads held high, they walk away in shame. So, whilst they go into the next round of the cup, our stock is still soaring. Better a losing Oxford fan than a winning West Ham fan, which says it all really.