This weekend is the FA Cup Final and I will once more be settling down to watch, although my team isn’t featuring again this year (Arsenal, in case you wondered).
In fact, I can proudly (?) say that I have watched every cup final live except for one (Wimbledon v Liverpool) when a so-called friend arranged a wedding for Cup Final afternoon. Idiot.
Big deal you may say, but believe me, when you live on the other side of the world, following the big games requires great levels of dedication.
If you want to watch games live (and what other way is there to watch them really?), depending on the time of year, they typically kick off between midnight and 2am, Sydney time, with evening games taking place early morning – I’m sure that 4.45am kick off is a time familiar to many ex-pat poms.
This gives you the option a lonely vigil on the couch, with just a coffee to keep you company/awake, or else soldiering out to a pub to watch the game with other diehards/sadsacks.
(That said, on one occasion, I have to confess that I met a mate at 3am in order to get to the Casino for a 4am kick off to see Arsenal lose the European Cup Final. Beaten, depressed and smelling of a bar by 6am is not a great way to start your work day.)
Of course, there is always the soft option of recording the game to watch at a more civilised time, but in a world of 24/7 media, mobile technology and social media, the chances of quarantining yourself from a result is virtually impossible.
No, if you want to experience the big game atmosphere, you simply have to suffer the resulting sleep deprivation. Not to mention the looks of pity and/or contempt from partners, colleagues and other non-obsessives the next day.
The reason why this topic is particularly relevant this weekend is that, in their wisdom, the FA have decided to push back the FA Cup Final’s kick off time from 3pm to 5.15pm.
This may require a bit of rescheduling of your day if you live in the UK, but for those poor Aussie football fans, this means a 2.15am kick off and a result somewhere between 4 and 5am. Now that would test the stamina of any football fan, especially the casual viewer
No problem for me though as I mark down another addition to my impressive Cup Final-watching resume. Oh the joys of watching sport at the proper time. – I could really get used to this.