Football As a Power For Good

Some of the articles that appear within these pages will, by natural evolution have an emphasis on less happy outcomes, less happy lives lived, less happy moments in time.

Very often the pieces will offer a double facet, an improvement to life for somebody with a positive change in their mental health, sometimes the reverse, where things have gone badly for someone from a mental health perspective, and most of these stories will have some relevance to football.

The beautiful game.

I’m indulging myself today with a few words on the huge uplift of mood that an improbable win brought, and the underlying happiness and positive mental health that endured for many weeks afterwards. This piece has no negative side to it. I won’t tell you what the game was, I won’t tell you what the team was, as this isn’t a partisan website in any form or shape, although if you know me well, you may well guess!

We had no tickets to the game so we spent the day wandering around the city engaging with other like minded fans. Bumping into old friends, making new acquaintances, having a beer or two and calming the nerves before the big game. We were already up against it, having lost the first leg, so hopes were not high.

Much indecision as to where to watch the match, resolved when a space opened up in a Sports Bar, many screens to watch the impending defeat. Early fears realised as we went one down, soon to be followed by a second. All over we thought, and the fatalism involved in supporting our side was seemingly justified once more. Half time, just enjoy the evening, enjoy the craic, but no more.

Into the second half, and suddenly just a glimmer of hope, a goal. Embarrassment minimised but no more than that. Surely. Then, oh my, a second. Now just thoughts of what could have been, how we brought the A game to the party a little too late. Another chance near the end, woodwork saving the opposition. That was it, surely that was it.

Then, gloriously then, a brilliant through ball, man on goal, and time stood still. The ball caressed, almost mis hit, as it rolled, so slowly into the goal . Of course in these days of VAR, nothing is simple, celebrations come with a health warning, but we knew, we just KNEW, this was golden, this was in. The bar erupted, the noise unimaginable, dancing on the tables, hugging strangers, hugging friends. Tears of joy, happiness and complete disbelief.

Not only a win, not only one of our biggest and most important wins, but, I believe a positive mental experience for all who were there. All cares washed away, all concerns diminished, and to this day, in my case certainly, something I mentally refer to when times are tough when it’s hard to remain optimistic. A beacon of light that will stay with me for ever.