It seems fairly clear that one of the underlying attractions of football is that it enables men to express emotions. But I also wonder if there’s a deeper purpose of enabling men to feel emotions in the first place. I remember a Geordie explaining to me once that choosing your team was more important than choosing your wife because, after all, you can divorce your wife. He meant it, too. In the Radio 4 Programme The Choice, Michael Buerk interviewed a man who had decided to give up his Manchester United Season Ticket. It was an odd and fascinating radio programme, because Buerk quite clearly did not understand the magnitude of the moral and ethical choice facing this man. (Interestingly, that is one of only two episodes of The Choice not described in detail on the BBC website.)
Then of course there’s Bill Shankly who once infamously said that football was not a matter of life and death, but that it was more important than that.
So – it doesn’t take great powers of observation to see that men get really worked up about football.
What I find myself wondering, now that the New Man of the 1990s is old hat, is whether or not the appeal of football is that men can feel emotions about it.