Look, you're a football fan. Can you explain why the game keeps stopping for throw-ins and so on?

You know what the best thing about football is? Well, I'll tell ya. If you don't happen to be a fan, football doesn't impinge on your consciousness much. You don't hear people talking about it in pubs, it's never on TV and you hardly ever see it featured in advertising. In fact, I don't think I ... oh, wait a second, no ... I might be thinking of sodomy there.

If I had known, when I was 12, what a social boon football was going to be, I'd have spent more Saturdays watching it than the Viking movies on BBC2. I might not have developed a love for it, but at least I'd have avoided a few embarrassing moments, like recently asking a football-loving friend (let's call him Arthur Mathews) why everyone hated Manchester United when they were such a good team. The look he gave me!

Sadly, a knowledge of Viking movies is not the social lubricant it may once have been. Get a group of 10 men together, with no shared language, and they can have a three-hour conversation simply by putting different emphases on the word "Klinsmann". But say something like: "Boy, those Vikings really put up a brave fight, didn't they? Lots of chances at the end, but I think their nerve went," in any pub and the juke box switches off, someone throws a dart into the blackboard and everyone's suddenly looking at you.

I have a friend (let's call him Eddie Bannon), who collects football truisms so he can be in a pub with more than four men and not end up sitting on his own making a little fort out of matches. At any given time, he'll have a selection of the most popular, which at the time of writing includes "Newcastle lost their shape when they brought in Asprilla"; "You can't win the Premiership with kids"; "England played well, but I don't think Platt had a good tournament"; "Juninho may have won the World Cup but he doesn't have the bottle for a February night in Middlesbrough"; and "Alan Shearer's future with Blackburn is secure".

Like Eddie, you may have no idea what these things actually mean, but throw one into any football conversation and you may, for a time appear to know what's "happening". If you're feeling confident, you might try making up a few of your own: "Ince has one huge thing in his favour, he's married", "If Leeds want another shot at the big bird, they've got to spend more time in the air", or "What Scotland need to do now is open it out a bit, bring in some talent on the nose, send out a few flyers, set phasers to stun and don't kill Skywalker. He's mine."

Look, you're a football fan, explain one or two things to me: the way the game keeps stopping, for throw-ins and so on ... that doesn't drive you insane? The goofy babbling over the action, what about that? And, my God, talk about sponsorship run amok. Why call Liverpool "Liverpool'" any more? Why not, simply, "Sanyo".

If I'm going to give in and start watching football, I want a few changes.? First, I want a massive glass wall around the pitch, eliminating the need for corners and throw-ins and all the other idiotic things that slow down play. Furthermore, substitutes can just run on to the pitch during play, they don't have to hold up a card. Injured players must crawl off the pitch by themselves, unless they've been knocked unconscious.

The outside rule is to be jettisoned because it prevents too many goals. finally, players have to wear cool helmets, like the ones in Rollerball.

I've just realised that the above rules are a fair description of the type of football you play when you are 12 (apart from the Rollerball helmets) that's why we need the referee. You'll notice that in a real, grown-up match, every time a goal is scored, the defence put up their hands and start protesting. "That wasn't a goal. I wasn't ready. He was offside. The ball bounced back out. It's not a real goal if the ball bounces back out."

It just passes over them for a moment but if it wasn't for the referee turning around and walking back to the middle of the pitch, they'd be there all night. If it wasn't for him, we'd have kid football; endless arguments about whether a ball went over or under the imaginary posts, kicking off before the other side are ready, "fly" keepers running all over the shop and refusing to stay in goal, and the player who owns the ball running away with it because he wants to be captain.

Actually, that sounds fantastic. What an exciting football life we'd lead if some of these suggestions took root. Maybe I won't write to a suitable organisation just yet - I'll run it by "Arthur Mathews" first, if only to see that look of new-found admiration and respect spread across his face.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

    £23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

    Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

    £14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

    Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower