It’s summer! Time to pull away from the liberal intellectual paradise of Portswood and head back into the ‘real world’. Here, loud obese men in full football kit are no longer just an unfortunate Sainsbury’s obstacle- now that the World Cup has started, these shin-padded job-seekers are a part of your everyday life.
For the uninitiated Computer Science students who’ve never heard of fresh air, the World Cup is a football tournament held every four years to determine which country is the best at everything. It’s an emotional roller coaster which lasts about a month; it’s arduous, unavoidable, and inevitably disappointing. In this regard, the World Cup is a lot like your A-Levels, except you’ll cry less, and your Dad actually cares about the results.
It’s also a social minefield if you don’t know how to act. Playing it cool while nursing a beer might work at Wimbledon, but you won’t last five minutes in the harsh world of competitive football. Luckily, the Soton Tab are here to help.
Football is the sport of cliché, so the first step is easy. Just remember to occasionally inform the room that Rooney is a “donkey”, Lampard is “fat”, and everyone else is a hero, or “Lion”. Exercise more caution when commenting on other teams to avoid unsavoury racial discomfort, but feel free to call the Brazilians “samba boys” and point out how hairy the Greek players are. Remember, in football, stereotypes are fun and harmless, and you meant it as a compliment anyway. Another sure-fire way to let everybody know that you’re an expert on the game is to demean or insult the referee. Do this especially loudly if in a pub or around children. He won’t hear you but everyone around you will think you’re an absolute legend.
Use what you’ve learned to improvise some expert tactical analysis in the short interval. Suggest that the problem is we haven’t scored enough goals, or maybe even that we’ve let in too many. “Hodgson hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing” is a true crowd-pleaser, but you may want to save it for the first substitution. Whatever you do, don’t get involved in any discussion involving the offside rule. Just nod in quiet agreement with whoever is being loudest.
THE LAST TEN MINUTES
If England are winning, wear a proud smile and feel like you’ve contributed to your country. Go on Twitter and retweet the EDL to show your #EnglishPride. If England are losing, grunt occasionally and lash out when someone tries to break your focus. This is important stuff, and if you’re not watching the screen, there’s no way England can claw this back. If you’re a woman over the age of 45, try occasionally shouting “Bring on Joe Cole” more frequently as the game wears on, and offer encouragement for “our boys”. Eventually, the game will end. Drama students and northerners may like to shed a tear at this point to demonstrate their passion, but try not to oversell it.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully navigated yourself through an entire game. Your parents will be proud to hear it, and you may even have enjoyed yourself.
For a live feed of even more convincing things to say, follow the Soton Tab’s live blog of England vs Uruguay this evening. For a bit of revision you can catch up on the England vs Italy match here.