Luke Blackall: This Euros, I'll be an armchair general rather than a barstool tactician

Man About Town: I find it hard to muster up the faux camaraderie with the faux fans and the face painters
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The European Football Championships are meant to be a good time to go out, as every public house with a television tries to lure you in with a combination of cold beer and warm celebration.

Now I love football and have a season ticket at my boyhood club, but you won't catch me down the pub for this Sunday's England match. The beer advert on the radio, which implores fans not to be "an armchair general" and to get down the pub, trotting out that cliché of what young men nowadays should be doing, typifyies my dislike for pub sports.

There was a time when watching a game in my local was practically essential. I didn't have a television when I first went to university and when the house I lived in did get one, it was so small, we might as well have been watching the game from the window of an aeroplane.

But it's different now. Almost everyone has a TV and most of them have comfortable-sized flatscreens. While the ones at the pub might still be bigger, they're not usually up high enough to prevent the compulsory tall person in front from blocking your view. In the squashed and sweaty bars, I find it hard to muster up the faux camaraderie with the faux fans and the face painters. And then there are the barstool tacticians, shouting substitution and formation suggestions to the TV. They are the ones who make the dull ex-pros in obscene shirts on Match of the Day sound like the greatest preacher you ever heard.

You see, if I can't be at the game, I'll choose to be an armchair general than a barstool tactician every time. That's not to say I won't be supporting the England team, however. Over recent years I have grown tired of supporting a bunch of odious players who seemed to resent losing their summer holidays, being ordered around by a mercenary manager.

But this year has seen a change. A couple of the old guard remain, but as a whole they seem a more humble, enthusiastic bunch with an amiable and hard-working manager. And without the media hype and the glut of rubbish songs that drive us all the way to the semi-finals, the general mood seems better.

Despite that, this tournament, I'm doing my supporting from a sofa, rather than a bar. Besides, from a superstitious fan point of view, it works too. I have been at home for the past two games, and England have done pretty well. What if I went out and it all went wrong?