Hobnobbing with the first team

editorial image
Have your say

Weekly shop; rammed aisles, dithering crowds in danger of frostbite round the chiller cabinets and a wonky trolley to boot. Stressful doesn’t quite cover it.

Shampoo aisle: mental notes to self flow thick and fast. Stay focused. Do not deviate from list. You do not need yet another conditioner and your hair will never be a full and bouncy as those adverts promise.

I run the gauntlet; make it out with only one small bottle of split ends serum added to the trolley - only to grind to a screeching halt on biscuits.

Focus crumbles. A BOG-OF on bourbons? A new breed of 100 per cent guaranteed-dunkable digestive?

No, reader. A fellow trolley pusher has just been texted a football score. They’re 1-0 up,” she squeals to mini-me daughter. Are they Blunts or Owls?

Thankfully, the lead is Wednesday’s; we’re united in jubilation. I’m so pleased I decide to treat the boys in the office to Hobnobs.

Now, at this point, let me be very clear; I’m not a football person.

Those women who have season tickets, stripy hats and scarves and understand about all this going up or down and even the offside rule... I am not in their league. Never have been, never will be.

I grew up in a non-football household. Dad and elder brother never gave a fig for football.

Younger one had a fancy for Liverpool, back in the day when all the players had curly hair and were called Kevin. But then he switched to rugby, where all the men had curly ears and were called Bill.

My first husband was a half-hearted Wednesdayite until the Hillsborough tragedy. He was there that day, watching from safe seats. It horrified him; moved him beyond words and stirred an ever-after devotion.

Just two months earlier, something equally life-changing had happened to me. I’d had a son.

All through pregnancy I’d envisioned a halcyon pink and girly future; then it turned out baby-blue.

Over the years, Boy did what no one else could have done; he made me care about football and painted my world in cobalt and white stripes. He was at his first Wednesday match at three (though was back home again by half-time: I’d told his dad it was too soon). But as my little Owl got bigger, so did his passion.

I watched in amazement as that daft game bestowed him with a sense of belonging and pride. Through football he learned to express his opinion; grown men listened and it gave him confidence.

His love of Wednesday instilled in him the importance of teamwork and of getting back on your feet when you’re down to try, try again.

I still know nowt about football; these last weeks, office biscuit-munchers still sniggering about the time I wrote about Bristol Palace in this very paper, patiently explained the complexities of the promotion battle so I could go home and sound ‘informed’. But Saturday; it was a great day.

I hope, for every Sheffield lad who grew up on the back of his team, The Others get their great day, too. Teams divide this city; ultimately football should unite it. Meantime, a Hobnob, anyone?