The fan - Hunter Davies loves those intimate moments in players' lives
That player who has old, worn eyes. Didn't Baden Powell warn him?
There are three areas still hidden from us. But otherwise we are living in privileged times, we football fans, seeing and appreciating and understanding more about our heroes than our forefathers ever did. And it grows better, all the time.
I am sure each weekend that if every Premiership player, which means almost 300, were to walk straight out of my TV set into my living-room I would recognise them at once, be able to say: hey, that was a terrible miss from the free kick, who were you supposed to be marking at that corner, I saw the hand ball the ref never saw, don't lie, that cut over your left eyebrow, not as bad as I thought, I do like your new boots, shame about the colour, but your tash is coming on great. Our forebears were never privy to such knowledge and particulars.
Jonathan Greening, for example, of West Brom. I've been watching him carefully all season and can state categorically that he has a beard, making him the only beardy in the Premiership. David James of Man City may indeed be acquiring one, of a sort, but we all know, we intimates, that he is a creature of fashion, so it might not last.
Harry Redknapp of Portsmouth, poor lad, his facial twitches grow worse. I do feel sorry for him, exposed to us all as he stands on the touch line. He must know that TV close-ups are now so close, so cruel. Lee Hendrie of Villa, we all wonder how a man so young can have such old, worn, eyes. What does he get up to at home? Didn't Baden Powell warn him? Igor Biscan of Liverpool, he does make me smile. Close-up, he always appears half asleep: Stan Laurel's love child, who by chance has stumbled out of bed and into Anfield.
We who were watching the shambles against Spain knew in minutes that Rooney had lost it: his eyes told us, his body language was clear and brutal, yet it took Sven, who was there, somewhere, 40 minutes to haul him off.
With Ronaldinho of Barcelona - there are around 30 from the Spanish league who I feel equally on first-name terms with - I am studying his gob, staring right down his throat. I now think his apparent smile, so charming and delightful, might simply be caused by his teeth being too large for his mouth.
The team at Juventus are also my personal friends. I now witness their most intimate moments, such as how before kick-off they kiss each other, on the cheeks, sometimes the lips. Oooh. But alongside the human ticks and mannerisms, the game itself is what we now see best of all, can understand goals and misses and failures that were a mystery to us in the past.
What we don't see - and probably never will - is, first, inside the dressing-room. Wouldn't that be wonderful, to be there before, during and after the match, hear the coaches, feel the tea cups flying? I would love to observe the final team talk, to understand what it was they thought they were supposed to do.
Second, we never see training. I'm sure it would be possible, as long as not too many secrets were given away. It could provide a fascinating insight, be so informative, letting us see footballers' real working lives, their day-to-day exertions, not just their weekly 90 minutes.
The third area could easily be shown, as it's not hidden away. I would like Sky's cameras to linger longer on players who have been subbed and are now on the bench. Small moments, but so strange. It was being at Spurs the other week, sitting just a few feet behind the bench, that reminded me how weird players are when taken off, disembodied, unable to speak, focus, even see properly.
They have been concentrating so hard, so tensely, that being suddenly removed totally disorientates them. A steam, a glow, surrounds their bodies, making them ethereal. It points up what has been happening out there, on the battlefield, the state of unbeing they have been in. Very revealing, yet so hard to describe in words.
Oh well, I suspect it would come over dreadfully boring. Not even the wonders of modern TV can capture three dimensions and four senses. Not yet anyway. But smellies and feelies should be with us soon.
More from New Statesman
- Online writers:
- Steven Baxter
- Rowenna Davis
- David Allen Green
- Mehdi Hasan
- Nelson Jones
- Gavin Kelly
- Helen Lewis
- Laurie Penny
- The V Spot
- Alex Hern
- Martha Gill
- Alan White
- Samira Shackle
- Alex Andreou
- Nicky Woolf in America
- Bim Adewunmi
- Kate Mossman on pop
- Ryan Gilbey on Film
- Martin Robbins
- Rafael Behr
- Eleanor Margolis