COLUMN: Mama, call the doctor! I’ve got football fever!

Erin Roof


Of course the American picked Iran-“axis of evil,” nuclear terror and all of that nonsense.

When my co-worker approached me before the World Cup started and invited me to join the office lottery, I was excited. I put in £1 and if the team I drew won, I would win £32 in return. I liked those odds. But, of course, I pulled Iran. Unfortunately, its nuclear savvy does not translate onto the football field.

“That’s all right,” I said. “If my team doesn’t win, we’ll just blow you up.”

I was feeling rowdy. But I couldn’t help it — I’ve been diagnosed with football fever! Symptoms: hairy palms, nervous ticks and a Pavlovian response of severe panting and drooling at the sight of David Beckham.

Little did I know I was meant to be a football fan — that’s “soccer” for you Americans — until I studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, two years ago. My favorite cocktail at my local bar was a nice vodka and grenadine number named “The Beckham.” The first time I ordered it, I had to ask who Beckham was. Oh, the ignorance. Now, I live in the football star’s stomping grounds.

It’s amazing how on the first day of the World Cup, London was transformed from a mild-mannered, well-dressed town to a city of belligerent, half-naked football hooligans. The afternoon of England’s first match, I walked down Oxford Street, staring at the crazies.

“You can’t fookin’ hit me, I’m wearing a flag!” a shirtless man wearing England’s flag as a cape eloquently screamed at a taxi. The cab’s grill was mere inches away from his knee caps. At least he was being patriotic.

The morning before England’s second match, I received an e-mail from my editor named “footie.” It notified us that all staffers could “disappear” an hour early to go watch the game. The difference between watching UK football and US football is that whereas Americans meet up at friends’ air conditioned houses to see the action, here people congregate in sweaty pubs.

I cabbed it to South Kensington to meet up with my friend, Kat, at her local pub. It was shoulder-to-shoulder inside, but right in front of the flat-screen TV was a stool reserved just for me. Kat had arrived an hour before the game to stake out the seats.

England 2, Trinidad and Tobago 0. Victory. Screaming. Two half liters of Magners Cider. (I swear at the time I didn’t know it was that much, but I was wondering why the bottles were so big.) It was 7 p.m. in London and thousands of drunken fans and I were trawling the streets looking for more places to celebrate. I ended up in Soho.

The city was in good spirits. The mood was manic. Blood in the streets. Arm wrestling. St. George’s cross. Stella Artois. Fainting. Pissing on corners and passing out in double deckers. Vitriol. Victory.

I can’t help it! I’ve got the fever!

Oh, Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land. . .

Erin Roof is currently interning at the New Statesman magazine in London, England. She watched Motorhead play in Hyde Park on Saturday and spent the rest of the evening annoying people with her horrible Lemmy impressions. In her spare time, she also writes guest columns for the Summer Kent Stater.