The international scene is so profoundly depressing at present that I hope the good readers of the Ealing Times will forgive me for concentrating on matters a little closer to home this week.
I can’t remember who it was who said – utterly unforgivably – that the end of the football season is when you find out that your wife left you last August, but I plead guilty to having spent Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at Hanwell Town and Craven Cottage and Saturday at Brentford. Were it not for the facts that my QPR season ticket-holding son has promised to “out” me as a Fulham fan if I show my face in Loftus Road and for North Greenford United matches clashing I could have done an Ealing and West London accumulator.
The Nobel Prize-winning author and goalkeeper Albert Camus said that everything that he had learned in life he learned from football, and the start of the new season certainly teaches us about the need to hope and to believe. It also teaches us that life can be very cruel but that human endeavour will always triumph when a team works together in a common cause. For me, football is not just about the sport and the spectacle but also the way in which it binds communities together.
Hundreds – if not thousands – of people play amateur football every week in Ealing and I know that many who did not have the experience of discipline and teamwork could well have ended up as one of the depressing statistics that so shame our city. It may be a long way from the heights of the Premiership to Rectory Park or Cayton Fields but it is still football and I start this season with my usual prayers for Fulham’s survival and my deepest thanks for the unsung heroes of youth and amateur football who devote their time and energies to ensuring that everyone has a chance to play the finest game Britain ever invented.