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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, December 08, 2007
    I'm often exhausted after a football match, but seldom before. I was tired and weary in mental torment before today's game, though, carrying a weakness which drained the energy from me even after a good warming fry-up lunch. It was the thought of having to make a twenty-minute walk to Goodison through sheets of heavy rain. It was the planning for the ordeal: considering waterproofing options, thinking of the best route - to avoid as much as possible the likelihood of being drenched by vehicles passing through kerbside floods. For once it wasn't the prospect of the game which anguished me, for Everton are in good form and a win against stuttering Fulham looked likely. It was just the old-man reluctance to heave my tired bones away from the glowing hot Dimplex out into the wild grey waterstorm.

    In the end it was the bind of the season ticket which got me moving - the unalterable truth that I'd already paid for my seat at the game, and paid plenty. So I changed into my heavy-duty hiking trousers and boots, squeezed my winter football coat over a thin waterproof jacket (in the knowledge that the winter coat would begin to take in water within fifty yards of a walk through today's torrents), experimented with a variety of hats and hoods, and set out into the dreadful weather.

    Being soaked makes a football crowd sit unusually still, quietly drying off, each conscious of their unique patches of cold and damp in particular areas of their bodies, the whole 32,000 breathless from a traumatic dash to the ground, gently and gratefully abandoned now to being under cover for the next two hours while the deluge continues to sweep the pitch and render the players saturated. Standing up to watch corners and other goal attempts offers the spectators opportunities to check on the slow evaporation of their outer and inner layers, to make small adjustments for comfort. Dancing up and down to celebrate goals squeezes just that little bit more liquid from 64,000 soggy socks.

    If you're winning you still sing when you're soaking, as today for hat-trick Yakubu: "Feed The Yak and he will score" (Cwm Rhondda). And if you've won then regardless of your own discomfort you feel generous enough to help out a fellow-fan in trouble. On the way home three of us risked slipping into deep muddy puddles as we pushed and splashed and heaved to help a van get off a muddy grass verge. The grateful driver was careful not to spin his back wheels too much or he would have caked us all in roadside slurry. By then, of course, it would have mattered little to us if he had. Wet through anyway, and bound for the warm glow of home.