As we eagerly await the possible resumption of attending football matches I guess our thoughts turn to how safe it is going to be and are we willing to risk our health – and potential mortality – by exposing ourselves to such danger.
Are we really going to risk our lives just to watch a football match?
This takes me back to 1975 when something happened which caused me to consider the dangers of watching football – even on TV.
My mate Eddie brought into school a dog eared copy of a paperback book called Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC). It was littered with horrific photos of men who had literally melted in their armchairs in front of the TV.
In nearly all cases the MO was the same. Drunk guy stoats home from the pub. Settles down in front of a coal fire with a wee hauf to watch Match Of The Day ( or Sportscene in Scotland) and then…….basted like a pig. The individual literally melted into their chair. Bizarrely, although they were charred like a barbecued chicken leg there was little or no damage to the surroundings. Often, the carpet below their feet would be unaffected. They just appear to have, well, self combusted!
We discussed this at length and tried to come up with logical explanations.
I wondered aloud, jokingly at first, if the decisions of the officials had angered the viewers so much that they quite literally exploded with rage. Eddie wasn’t having this but after giving it some more thought I made the following compelling case:
Near the end of the 1970 Scottish Cup Final ( refereed by RH Davidson or Right Hun Davidson as my father insisted) my Da‘a face turned such a deep shade of crimson at the series of unbelievable decisions, all against Celtic, it made the Aberdeen shirts look white. My mum was very concerned about him that day and she and the 10 year old me continually told him to calm down. My Dad was not the most placid of guys but he took it to another level that day.
Perhaps if the game had gone to extra time, who knows, It might just have tipped him over the edge.
On reflection though, I think not.
However, maybe one catastrophic incident, so shocking as to be unbelievable, would be the catalyst for SHC.
I offer the critical Dixie Deans penalty in the 1972 European Cup semi final. No sooner had my Dad uttered the words “Good, Dixie Is going first. He never misses!” the ball not only didn’t settle in the back of the net, the Daily Express cartoonist suggested the next day that it may be orbiting the earth! On reflection though, my Da didn’t respond angrily to the shock he just sank back into his chair awaiting the inevitable perfect 5 from Inter which duly arrived.
Perhaps then, I thought, it would take a complete 90 mins of utter mayhem, a total assault of criminality of our beloved Celtic players, aided and abetted by a weak referee to cause the total and complete annihilation of the human body with an explosion of rage that made Hiroshima seem like a firework.
Yes, I’m taking of course about our next European Cup semi final against Atletico Madrid in 1974.
In what was effectively 90 minutes of unrelenting thuggery my Dad and I (now 14) got worked up into such a frenzy that my Mum put on her coat and went for a walk. She had tried to reprimand me for my first uttered FFS in her presence and rather than start WW3 decided to bolt. By the end of the game he was pacing up and down the living room and I was sure that his right foot was certain to go through the screen.
No meltdown that day either though.
So, I concluded that it must have been something completely off the scale like, oh I don’t know, maybe England winning the World Cup with a goal that wasn’t!
A couple of years later me, Eddie and a few other mates were now meeting in the pub. One night we reminisced about the whole SHC thing and it had turned out that the medical profession had decided that it wasn’t the mystery they had thought. The phasing out of coal fires to be replaced by Central Heating had, at a stroke, completely eliminated the “phenomenon”.
So, it seemed that it had just been a stray spark from a bit of coal that had set alight the TV viewer who, in his drunken stupor, was unaware or unable to save themselves from being cooked alive.
I still reckon to this day though that one or two of these incidents MUST have been triggered by a dodgy offside decision.
Anyway, to bring us back to where we find ourselves now, I doubt I will overcome my fears to enable me to take my place in Block 405 before this season ends.
So, maybe I’ll find out first hand if SHC is still a thing or not.
Especially, with Collum, Madden, Beaton and Red Card Ross standing between Celtic and Ten In A Row!
The above by Billybhoy. Should you fancy an article yourself its firstname.lastname@example.org