What do Man of the Match, Hundred Club and Limited Edition have in common?
They’re the only answer I ever get these days to questions like –
“How was school today?”
“What did you do for lunch play today?”
“What did you choose for Golden Time this afternoon?”
Match Attax cards seemed quite innocuous when Ben first mentioned them. Blog Fodder reassured my nagging misgivings with persuasive arguments like -
“They have to swap cards, so they learn to negotiate; they talk to each other about the players, so they’re communicating; the cards are sport-related, so they might one day do the thing they’re talking about…”
I have spent time trying to learn my John Terrys from my Joe Coles, and I was beginning to have limited success. But then I had to move on to names like Fabregas and Anelka.
Not only do I have to remember them, I’m cruelly mocked if I don’t know which one is Limited Edition and which is Man of the Match.
“And is a Man of the Match a Hundred Club as well, or not?” I ask, keen to show an interest in my son’s new hobby.
“Mu-um, if he’s as good as (insert one of many names I never quite get) then of course he’s going to be a Hundred Club.”
And this explanation is generally followed by a silent but withering look, before Ben turns to his father – now basking in the glow of an admiring son who likes football.
I suppose it was inevitable that at some point my little boy would abandon his Mum in favour of his football-cricket-rugby-anything-with-a-ball-crazy Dad. But did it have to be while he was still living in the same house as me?
When I was growing up Grandstand was sacrosanct on Saturday afternoons. Ever since, I have always associated the theme tune with having to sit quietly “or go and play outside, Grandstand’s on.”
I was determined not to live with a sports nut, and for many years I managed it. In fact I achieved this one small ambition with all my boyfriends – except the one I decided to settle down and have children with.
This may add weight to the theories of those who claim we all seek out the familiarity of childhood relationships when picking a life partner.
But what it means for me is that Saturday afternoons are again a no-go area.
Grandstand may have sprinted to a happy commentary box in the sky, but sport still colonises our low-tech, 4-TV-channel house. And I have to be out, or in another room if I am to avoid two people – one large and one small – yelling at the telly and comparing notes on the progress of their favourite teams.
My one consolation is the fast-approaching end of the football season. This will see off the Saturday night version of Blog Fodder when his team has lost (make that most Saturday nights), and it will also see the end of this season’s Match Attax.
You’d think this would also mean the end of my football education.
Ben the football fan has now given way to Ben the entrepreneur.
He is insisting that I help him to sell each card, one at a time, on e-bay.
So I now spend my evenings typing names like Fabregas and Anelka, together with detailed descriptions of their match status, rarity and mint condition.
There must be a reward waiting somewhere – even for a non-believer.