Football widow: Noun. ‘A person who must cope with the temporary death of their relationship during football games’.
In other words, me. And most likely you if you’ve clicked on this article, because why else would you be here? Unless you’re the football-obsessed spouse, in which case please accept my sincerest apologies for everything I’m about to say.
With the Premier League kicking off today (August 9), I’m no stranger to the fact that from now until May, the attention of mine and many other poor sods’ partners will be firmly elsewhere.
Specifically, their attention will be on the 11 men who hold the fate of their football team – and therefore their happiness – in their hands as they step on the pitch each week and vie for position in the Premier League table. Or not, in my boyfriend’s case, because he’s a Manchester United fan (sorry).
I’ve got nothing against football, really. I realise writing an article complaining about being a football widow probably contradicts that in every sense, but just hear me out…
Up until today, I’d been enjoying a stress-free summer. An annoyingly humid one, definitely, and one which has involved me working in 30+°C temperatures while I stare enviously out of the window at all the uni students chilling in the many beer gardens surrounding the office… but a stress-free one all the same.
Now though? That chilled, relaxing atmosphere of June and July will become a distant memory, instead replaced with an up-hill struggle in August which will only get worse as the months progress and the Premier League trophy comes into sight.
It all sounds a tad dramatic, I know. But think about it: Gone are the days when we’ll be able to ask our partners a simple question like ‘how was your day?’ and receive an equally simple, content response.
Now, instead of a ‘yeah it was great thanks babe, how was yours?’, we’re more likely to receive an aggy rant about how [insert manager here] is destroying the team and [insert player here] is a useless tw*t who needs to pull his finger out. Trust me, I’ve been there.
And it’s not like I can even try to diffuse the situation because half of the time, my football knowledge doesn’t extend to the people he’s talking about and so I just have to nod along and pretend to know what’s going on.
That’s on top of having to prepare ourselves each time their team inevitably loses for the absolutely foul moods they’ll no doubt be in when they return home.
Don’t even get me started on last year – aka the bleakest period of my life – when José Mourinho was at the helm of United and they were dropping points so consistently a title bid was over long before it started, confirming a sixth year without a Premier League trophy. Disclaimer: It wasn’t fun. At all.
The silver lining to that is it probably couldn’t get much worse for them this season, although knowing my luck it will, because YOLO. Ole Gunnar Solskjær – if you’re reading this – please work miracles.
Even if Ole does work his magic though, there’s still the inevitable truth that I – along with thousands of others – will be competing with the football for the next few months for due attention.
Admittedly, it’s only fair. I mean, how many times this year have we made them painstakingly watch Love Island? Every night this summer, they’ve been living in hell between the hours of 9pm and 10pm but have gone along with it anyway because, let’s face it, they had no option (and probably secretly liked it). We’d have chosen Love Island over them every time.
We didn’t just let them sit on the sidelines either; we made them pick a side when Michael came back from Casa Amor without Amber and then proceeded to call her CHALDISH at every available opportunity – getting angry when they didn’t immediately side with Amber, obviously.
We professed our love for Ovie (bae) and Greg at every waking moment as though our boyfriends weren’t sitting right next to us, and said ‘it is what it is’ approximately 367262 times.
We even started arguments with them over things that happened in the villa and which didn’t impact our lives in any way, because why not?
Just look at this guy’s tweet if you don’t believe me:
So Michael kisses a bird ON TV and somehow that gets ME in the doghouse because “men are trash” the misses has pushed me away and stormed off, girls are mad yano #LoveIsIand
— Luke Westmorland (@Westmorlanddd) July 1, 2019
So yeah, I’ll hold my hands up and say they deserve a bit of time to scream at the telly to their heart’s content. I just think it would be better all round if they cut it off after two months like they do with Love Island. Then it’s a win/win for everyone.
Because we all know as soon as that first match kicks off, we’ll be on the sidelines (literally). It won’t matter where we are, who we’re with, or what we’re doing – if the footie’s on, that will take priority.
Past experience proves it; last year, me and my boyfriend had planned to go out for Tapas one night during the World Cup (England weren’t playing, don’t worry). I got dressed up, did my hair and makeup, and hopped on the tram to meet him.
Halfway through the journey, my phone rang:
Erm, I’m really sorry but you’re gonna have to come to mine instead because I’ve just realised Belgium are playing tonight and we won’t be able to watch it in the restaurant.
Fast forward to approximately 30 minutes later and I’m sat on his couch, all dressed up with a beer in hand, cheering for a team neither of us support and weren’t particularly bothered about winning.
To be fair to him, it was a good night – it just would have been a lot better with some chorizo and patatas bravas involved.
Forget the World Cup though because we’ve got other, more pressing issues at hand – primarily that the Premier League kicks off this weekend and we’ve got an entire 10 months of football talk coming our way.
That’s around 40 weeks, or 280 days, or God forbid 6,720 hours. How does anyone expect us to be able to put up with that?!
Look, I like football. I really do. I don’t know much about it, admittedly, but I like it. Regardless, there comes a point where you need to turn to your partner and ask: ‘how much is too much?’
And when they’re watching one game on the TV, streaming another via phone, and playing Football Manager on a laptop all at the same, I think we can safely say that’s too much.
Unless, of course, they bring back Love Island in the next couple of months – in which case, significant other who?
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).