Many moons ago, on a chilly night at White Hart Lane, my mates and I were huddled together like penguins getting through the Arctic winter. Matthew Etherington had the ball at his feet by the touchline. A meathead, sitting in the vicinity, rocked back onto his heels, inhaled half of the oxygen in the stadium and bellowed out ‘STICK IT IN THE MIXER!’ (Mixer pronounced Mixaaa). That’s a classic line firmly embedded in my memory banks. Occasionally its a line I unleash to fellow spectators when we’re in need of a cheap chuckle.
The world of sport, particularly football, grips the world. It is incredible. At its best it brings people together of all nationalities, races and religions. Football is a universal language. It breaks down social barriers. We are one big happy footballing family. It is fantastic.
Yet, for all its positives, football has a sinister side which incites racism, hate and corruption. This dark side has been part of the game for a while but huge strides have been made in eradicating them. However, FIFA have tried their best to negate this progress with Sepp ‘buffoon’ Blatter’s recent ‘handshake’ racism out of the game interview plus the embarrassing and quite incomprehensible 2018 & 2022 World Cup hosting selection.
But regardless of these impurities, we still love football. Why? Because it’s a drug. When you know that this coming Saturday, your beloved team is facing the arch rivals, a slight dose of anxiety creeps into your system. You know that league position and form counts for little. This game means bragging rights. So when your boys score an 89th minute screamer to make it 3-2 to the good, your immediate reaction is unexplainable. I call it the Footballgasm. Its a 2-5 second brain explosion of pure euphoria. You run and jump, as if you’re auditioning for the lead in Billy Elliott, into the arms of a complete stranger sitting four rows infront of you, kissing his shiny, bald head.
Everyone has their own favourite footballing moment in their life. What’s your most memorable football moment?
I can picture a slow wide smile blossoming on your Chevy Chase (face – cockney rhyming slang for the non Brits). It’s the screamer you scored at school; it’s the penalty you saved for your local team; it’s that famous night in 2005 when you made the 2,000 mile trek on plane, train and automobile to witness Liverpool’s mission impossible in Istanbul; its when you were partying in Las Ramblas after Solskjaer fired the winner against Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou in 1999; its when the Greek commentator almost has a heart attack when Charisteas heads Greece into a 1-0 lead in the 2004 European Championships Final; it’s when an 18 year old Michael Owen glided through the Argentinean defence to put England 2-1 up in 1998; it’s when Chris Waddle blazed over the bar in 1990 (certainly not my favourite moment but definitely memorable); its when England hammered ze mighty Deutschland at the Olympic Stadium in 2001; its when Barry Davies asks and answers his own question at Wembley in the 1991 FA Cup semi-final. ‘Is Gascoigne going to have a crack? He is you know….’; its when Dennis Bergkamp receives the ball with his back to goal, playing the ball one way around his marker, the Dutchman spins around the other way, calmly slotting home, leaving people still debating to this day, ‘did he mean it?’; its when Aloisi fires the winning penalty against Uruguay to take Australia to the 2006 World Cup Finals. Their first since 1974.
It’s worth jumping onto You Tube and searching in these moments. Obviously, there are hundreds more which are just as memorable but these are the first ones which popped into my head.
This leads me back to the title. Stick it in the mixer. I remember a mate’s girlfriend disliking football because, although there was no language barrier, everything yelled out by the fans was incoherent. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked. ‘Strip him, I heard someone say that, why would you strip someone?’ ‘Also, stick it in the onion bag – are they playing on an allotment?’ At that point I chuckled to myself. She was, undoubtedly, correct but my appreciation for the sport became even greater. That’s football talk I said – the best language in the world.