TSF: Best To Shut Up Over Sunday Lunch

Usually when men get together they discuss football, but not for The Secret Footballer, with everyone else either too scared or intimidated to speak up...

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This is a preview of The Secret Footballer's weekly column. The full version will appear on his website - The Secret Footballer.com - on Saturday...

It's been a long time since my father told one of my more difficult opponents that his dad had died while the game was going on. He hadn't, of course, and the story has become part of our family folklore. It's fair to say that the old man has mellowed a little in the 20 years or so since.

These days, whenever our family is able to get together, the men still try to share their stories about football, whether it's my father once again regaling us with the time he was subbed in the first half of a pub match, after having a nightmare, only to be sent back on again in the second half, in which he scored a hat-trick.

Or maybe it's my cousin talking about the time he won the inter-office cup for his department with a mazy dribble in the dying minutes of the game. Or maybe it's me talking about the time we hammered one of the biggest sides in world football.

And that's the problem. What should be, for a group of men, one of the easiest subjects to talk about ends up with me talking about huge games, world-class players and inside anecdotes that the rest of the public never hear about. My career has reached the very top and yet, around the family table, we now have an uncomfortable situation.

After Sunday lunch, some family members won't talk about football at all for fear that their stories might somehow sound weak in comparison. I am not comfortable holding court - I never have been - but, like it or not, I know an awful lot about football and my stories and experiences will, of course, always trump anyone else's around the table.

And so the conversation drifts to subjects that nobody really wants to talk about such as work, politics and "him next door". Football, which dominated the conversation around Sunday lunch in our house for so many years when we were growing up, is now as awkward to listen to as hearing your parents talk about sex.

But for those people on the periphery of the football world, there is still a lesson to be learnt from my family's discomfort in talking about football. Sometimes, even if you do a have an opinion, it can be best to just shut up.

***

This week on www.thesecretfootballer.com ... Our man inside the game talks about the people who think that they're helping but are actually embarrassing the players and themselves. Featuring Demba Ba's agent, Mrs Federici and Mrs Foster.

You can follow The Secret Footballer on Twitter here, or buy his book here, which we reviewed here

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