I had started penning this article a week ago, with the title – a gentle escapism from the harsh reality of life…
Events in the Denmark game have swiftly rendered that title meaningless.
Permit me to express my thoughts prior to the Denmark game.
There was a lad I used to teach back in 2007, when he was in Year 11. Lovely lad, a bit salty at times, but a genuinely nice kid with ingrained manners. Working at the time, in a rather more nefarious school, these types of students rather stood out. There were two other lads in there and before the world went ‘pc’ mad – after they had left, they added me on Facebook and we have remained in touch (albeit through Facebook ‘likes’) ever since. Those lads are all 30 now.
The aforementioned lad was from Bristol. Born and bred.
Who did he support? Newcastle.
Because his dad did.
I had been aware that his dad wasn’t well, but hadn’t realised the extent of his illness until a few weeks ago when he wrote a heartfelt post on Facebook explaining that his dad was coming home to spend the remaining days of his life and to be with his family and beloved dog. And the bit of the post that caught my eye – ‘he was able to watch his beloved Toon play’.
He passed away peacefully several days ago.
I never met the father but it just got me thinking that football really does provide us with an alternative universe in which to absorb us. It unites us, provides and forms bonds, and can truly be a medium with which we can absorb ourselves and for a short while, forget about the real world and all that may be good (or bad) in it.
I have also genuinely been struck by a few recent articles on here, from fellow MFW writers, who relay articulately and emotively, the shared experiences that football allowed them. And I’m not ashamed to say that Gary’s article brought a tear to my eye.
My own father has never really been into football, yet has watched Norwich a handful of times over the last few decades. His three Carrow Road visits being; my first ever match (2-1 v Leicester in 1994), Paul Lambert’s debut – 5-1 v Wycombe and 2019 Sheff Weds 2-2, with Super Mario’s last-minute equaliser. Dad has little interest in football, but the shared experiences are ones I will treasure for the remainder of my life.
Which brings me back to Denmark. An utterly harrowing experience and a stark reminder that perhaps football doesn’t always provide escapism. For 15 minutes, we literally watched a man pass away. It is beyond comprehension that a camera will cut away as soon as anyone enters the field of play. Yet the host feed did not cut away from Eriksen’s plight.
And yes, I could have turned over.
Why didn’t I? Because I wanted to see that he was going to be ‘ok’. Human nature was screaming for me to help, yet I couldn’t. I was powerless. The more I watched, the more I realised that things were not looking good.
Did we need to see a close-up of CPR? Perhaps not. But what I will take away from that scene, is the need to renew my long since expired First Aid Training.
And the relief that washed over me when that first photo of him ALIVE, was immense.
I spent a lot of last night pondering what would happen if I or any of my golfing partners collapsed on the course. Given the apparent speed with which one needs to be treated, I suspect our chances would be slim. And for that, I am so glad Eriksen had this collapse during a game, rather than perhaps on his own at home.
One of my grandfathers had a heart attack on a tee box (1970), so long before I was even thought of. But my mind did wander to how his playing partners must have felt.
My commendations to the entire Denmark team for how they acted and for the fans of both teams. I can’t imagine anyone who watched the ‘Christian’ – ‘Eriksen’ chant, not welling up. I know I did.
Life is short. Football does provide escapism. Nevertheless – it unites us in euphoria – or at times, grief.
Sending my best to all MFW readers, writers and their families, alike.
Alex B says
An excellent read
The French production team have come out and said EUFA instructed them not to stop showing how things unfolded.
We then heard all the players voted to play on for Ericksen but now some players are saying EUFA told them that the team who refused would gave a -3 GD for the match.
So much for EUFA/FIFA having the players mental and Physical health at the heart of their philosophy it is all about money 💰 to those in power.
As you say anyone watching 👀 must have got emotional no matter their nationality.
Over the years many bad things have happened in football but some how it brings the majority of the public together.
Martin MacBlain says
Hi Alex. Thank you.
I hadn’t realised that about the UEFA instructing them not to cancel the feed. Goodness me.
martin penney says
Yes the recollections are there for many of us, which is why my piece this morning ended up as my usual light-hearted nonsense as a diversion for myself as much as MFW readers.
Dad was driving through Dussindale, collapsed at the wheel and took out a garden fence. The property owner hit 999 the second he saw what was occurring .
Dad’s aorta had ruptured and as you so rightly say, quick attention was the key to his survival. He was virtually DOA but somehow they got him going again and, although never the same, he enjoyed an extra seven or eight years he really shouldn’t have.
The legacy of that is that I’m supposed to have an aorta scan every two years as these things can, apparently, be hereditary.
Well done for writing that.
Martin MacBlain says
Hi Martin, wow what a story. The mind wanders to the ‘what-ifs’ straight away. What if it hadn’t been a garden, what if the owner hadn’t been in…..
I’m very glad to hear your dad enjoyed a few extra years.
I did have a good think about whether to write the piece and almost didn’t submit it. But sometimes it can be cathartic reading as well as writing them….
Mr P says
I just read that only 1 in 10 people who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive. A grim and sobering stat.
Martin MacBlain says
Grim and sobering certainly sums up that stat….
I realised, after writing, that I had omitted that my grandfather didn’t survive the heart attack and passed away on the 4th tee box. I hope that’s not hereditary!