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Dublin: 13°C Friday 23 April 2021

Column: Planning to be an armchair supporter this summer? Here's some advice.

If you’re going to watch the European Championships and the Olympics this summer then you need to prepare. Start by buying a giant couch, writes David Slattery.

David Slattery

THE MAMAS AND the Papas famously threatened us in song that, if we weren’t wearing flora in our hair on our way to San Francisco for the Summer of Love, they couldn’t guarantee our safety among the peace-loving hippies.  Many people missed that historical summer because it wasn’t televised, unlike the upcoming summer of sports 2012. It is going to be the best thing since 1967.

As well as the scheduled tennis, golf, horseracing, GAA, motor sports, cycling, and the unmissable annual dump truck derby, there will be the European Football Finals in June followed by the Olympic games in August. You don’t need to travel anywhere or queue for tickets. You can vicariously participate through the power of television. But I am warning you now that if you are going to have the best experience of your life, be sure to acquire some essential kit. While hippies needed just flowers and drugs to make the most of their summer, you will need a range of sports equipment.

You have to have a huge telly, flat with a diameter of at least 52 inches. These are not difficult to find because ex-footballers are currently in adverts on your old unsuitable undersized telly letting you know where you can buy the latest models. Furthermore, you can win a visit from Tony Cascarino who will come to your home to watch the action with you and provide informed commentary. Winning Tony would be a disaster for me because I would have to help out in the weeklong house cleaning in advance of the spontaneous celebrity visit.

Your telly should also have an instant playback function and high resolution so that you can detect the mistaken referee calls, especially in the decisions against Ireland, all of which will be the unjust, unfair, and ‘for fuck’s sake ref, get a pair of fucking glasses’- type. During the half-time intervals you can discuss the idiocy of UEFA not allowing electronic assistance in borderline cases like they have in the rugby and civilized tennis. (Tennis is boring now that the likes of McEnroe don’t have to chew what is left of the grass off the centre court in frustration. Tennis was very educational for me. I learned all my swear words from watching Wimbledon before electronic technology.)

You will definitely need a couch, preferably one in which you can nap between events. However, if you are introverted you might chose a very large armchair strictly for your own use with just enough room for you and two six packs of whatever the official beer is this year for watching sports from home.

To maximise enjoyment of this  summer you need to be unemployed or get yourself sacked before June

Have a cache of beer in the spare bedroom, or at least a significant other who can be sent outside for restocking. A far-thinking sport’s fan would not form a relationship with someone who shared an interest in watching sports on the telly. Who can you send for supplies if she/he is glued to the screen beside you? Ye might both starve to death by next August, and not be discovered until Christmas. Once the signature music strikes up for the game, women will usually flee from the house screaming something about emergency shopping for handbags that may take all day. Remind them to pick up a flat of official beer on their way back. In reality, many of these shoppers congregate in pubs to watch the action together, drinking unofficial Bulmer’s cider, while appraising the footballers on criteria detrimental to their slobs at home.

For maximum enjoyment you will need to wear a sweatband for the tennis, and the full Irish strip for the football, including boots. You can change your top every Sunday for your GAA county jersey. Don’t waste time washing: all sports people smell bad. For the Olympics you can put on a tricolour bikini running-strip that is great for beer belly comfort.

Don’t throw away any garish clothes: wear everything together in a random clashing palette when the golf is on. If you need to leave the house for any reason, perhaps you find yourself across the back of a fireman, you should keep a tracksuit close to hand.

To maximise enjoyment of this unprecedented summer you need to be unemployed or get yourself sacked before June. Or ring work and tell them you have caught a stubborn contagious disease.

What to yell during England matches

A downside with the London Olympics is that we are in the same time zone, so if you still have a day-job, there will only be replays to watch in the middle of the night. The usual live wrestling at 4am, women’s weight lifting at 6am, followed by the 400 meters butterfly swimming-drugs-enquiry at 8am will all take place this year during office hours.

Engage in running commentary from your sofa. Remember you are Irish, so you support anyone who is playing against England, even if that is Ireland. Accepted commentary, which can be shouted by you in any order without reference to specific action includes: ‘It will be hard to beat the Germans’; ‘It will be hard to beat the Spanish’; ‘I am delighted England was knocked out’; ‘Where did that go? Did anyone see where that ball went? I don’t believe it. It’s in the back of the fucking net. I should have listened to Ray Houghton and bought a HD telly’; ‘It will be hard to beat them’; ‘He is definitely on drugs’; ‘Free. FREE, ya blind bastard’; ‘Peno. PENO, ya blind bastard’; ‘Do you think your wan with the small boobs is really a man, or is that politically incorrect of me?’

To be a great couch fan takes practice, practice and more practice. From the first whistle of the match or dash of the runner, you should hurl abuse as loudly as you can at the television. Invite your disturbed neighbours around to visit, place them on the couch beside you, offer them a can of official beer and then ignore them. Carry a cloth for wiping the spit and crumbs off the television screen.

Finally, place any children outside on the patio in early June and bring them back in in September before the first frosts.

David Slattery is the author of How to Be Irish, published by Orpen Press (Order online at OrpenPress.com)

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David Slattery

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