I’ve recently discovered football. Of course I’m exaggerating, I used to play football all the time when I was young. I tried to play it the other day in fact, but my bones didn’t like that, nor did my beer gut. Nor did the cramp in my calf or the tightness in my chest or the wheeze in my throat of the sweat in my eyes. Still, I played it. I also played it at that important pre-teen-age where you get slotted into a group of hapless individuals at the start of secondary school and you’re stuck with them for five years. I didn’t really fit in with the footballers, because I didn’t know the finer intricacies of the game. I just loved booting that ball around.

“LUKE, GET GOALSIDE”

Pretty self-explanatory now I think about it, but it didn’t seem so on a field in the middle of rural Cornwall freezing my nuts off in October 2004. No, I packed it in, and grew my mop long; it was better that way. Keep your eyes to the ground, and when P.E comes around take the tomfoolery on the chin with the other ‘fringes’.

Thus was my stance until a good friend of mine started working in a pub which aired football games regularly. Thus was my stance until another good friend of mine introduced me to betting on football games. The introduction of cold lager and potential monetary gains increased my interest in the game tenfold. I caught myself more and more frequently watching Match Of The Day. At first I’d just flick on to check a score for a bet, but then I found myself watching entire broadcasts; animatedly commentating and gesticulating wildly at every play.

I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t figure where the excitement came from. But it was there, constantly in the back of my mind. Footy. Footy. Footy. FOOTY. FOOTY!

I couldn’t keep up with the news. I watched Sky Sports News straight for fifty seven hours, jotting frantically down notes, ideas, schemes, inspirations, notable plays, notable strategies, it was… wonderful.

But the crash was inevitable. I was consumed almost totally by my addiction to the consumption of all things footy. I woke up after a black out period of I don’t know how many days or weeks on a bed of betting slips. Almost all were accumulators with odds of five hundred or more to one that I’d made after having some profound celestial vision induced through lack of sleep and cheap lager. The last thing I remember as the bailiffs caved in my front door was Wayne Rooney’s mug, smiling politely in a post-match interview.