The fan - Hunter Davies needs help with his footie obsession

Surely there must be a therapist who could talk me out of this obsession

Nine months ago, I agreed to give a talk at Words by the Water, a literary festival in Keswick. I said I would never do another, waste of time, what's the point, I've got better things to do, such as nothing, but two Cumbrian friends twisted my arm. I knew the moment I said I would that I'd regret it. I didn't know why. I just knew that when the weekend in question approached, I would be effing and blinding.

It was last Friday, 4 March, I gave my little talk. Two, in fact. As I'm never doing any again, ever ever, I decided to give them their money's worth. Correction: there was no money, just a free meal, bed and breakfast. As if I can't get free meals here, at home. That's what my dear wife does. And she never charges.

I chose a Friday, as that's usually the poorest day for football on TV. Turned out that Burnley were playing Sunderland. OK, not Premiership, and neither is a team I support, though I have a soft spot for Sunderland and would like to see them back in the Premiership. It was apparently a good game, damn and blast, and Sunderland went to the top of the Championship, buggerit.

But I carefully planned it so that I'd travel back by train first thing Saturday morning, well in time for Arsenal at home to Portsmouth. Yes, I'm a Spurs fan, but surely the game didn't matter. And Portsmouth are pretty boring. But I was desperate to go. I've got my half-season ticket to Highbury, innit?

Bloody Virgin Trains. They have decided to work on the West Coast Main Line at weekends, so I couldn't get a train from Penrith. I persuaded one of the festival helpers to drive me all the way to Darlington, right across the Pennines, in deepest snow, in order to pick up the East Coast line. Which I did, but not in time to get myself to Highbury.

Our three children now live within walking distance of our London house, which is great. I get to see my two grandchildren all the time. Yet when they arrive for Sunday lunch, which is a fixed family event, I find myself jumping up from the table, pretending to fetch something, and then rushing to my room where I have left Sky on at full blast, just to check the score.

If there's only one match on a Sunday, kick-off at four, that's fine - I can enjoy a leisurely lunch with my dear children and grandchildren, whom of course I adore, light of my life, tra la. But when it's a lunchtime kick-off, oh God, do I moan.

Now and again, about once a millennium, my wife wants to invite Derek and Sue, or Prue and Ian, our neighbours on either side, to supper. I say OK, pet, fine by me. But not a Saturday or Sunday, please. Oh, and certainly not a Monday,

as there's always a good Premiership game. Tuesday, Wednesday

and Thursday, they're out. Could well be a European game. A Friday's not bad. Hold on. Depends which one: they show a Championship game on a Friday. Could be vital for play-offs. I know - could we put it off till the end of the season? In fact, this summer's fine. But don't fix anything for next summer, 'cos it's the World Cup.

The point of telling you all this trivia is because it is so totally utterly pathetic. How can a grown man, with so much richness in his life, allow himself to be dominated by something so stupid as football? Ruby and Amelia, my grandchildren, are only five. A delightful age. They'll be grown up soon, refusing to come to Sunday lunch. I'll have missed their childhood years by sitting in front of the telly shouting "Goal!" or "Rubbish!"

Do I need help? Places like the Priory, where Gazza went, will help you with addictions like drink or drugs. By chance, I met the boss of the Priory recently on holiday in the Bahamas. Wonder if he'd do me a discount. There are also experts to help if you are besotted by sex, smoking, gambling.

Surely, there must be a football therapist by now, one who will talk you out of your obsession. Probably consists of watching 1970s videos of John Pratt shooting over the West Stand into Tottenham High Road - until you scream for mercy, promising never to watch a game again.

Yours, worried, Brown Eye.

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