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.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

    £47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker