The fan - Hunter Davies finds there are too many balls in the air

I need discipline, speed on the button, hard work to watch all these games

Do you keep the best bit on your plate to the last, saving it up in order to savour it longest? I know I do. Do you sip your drink slowly, taking tiny mouthfuls, making it spin out rather than finishing it off swiftly in big swigs? Oh I do that as well. My wife hates it, saying I look like a curate.

There's a bowl of fruit on the table, been there for days. Do you eat the softest and baddest first? That's me to a T, but in this case it's meanness, really. I know no one else in this house will eat up the soft stuff, and it will be wasted, and I do hate waste.

These past three weeks of excellent European football, what a dilemma they've caused me. Several nights, there were two live matches, at exactly the same time. In fact, one night there were three, on three different channels. Oh gawd, the agonies.

What I like to do, friends, is concentrate on one at a time, enjoy it to the full, drain it to the bottom, saving the rest till later. I don't want to know about the other game going on, because I've set the video in order to watch it the next morning before I start work, a little treat for myself to get the new day going.

It can be hellishly difficult. You have to be so quick to put the sound down, avert your eyes if they suddenly give you a flash from the other game. At half-time, I go for a walk round the house, round the garden, round my mind, to avoid seeing the other highlights, if any.

In the morning, it's even tougher. I've done myself terrible injuries, lying there, half dozing with the radio on, listening to Jim and John and Ed giving us the benefit of their amazing knowledge and brilliant questions and clever summing up of the views of some politician who hasn't spoken yet, so you begin to wonder if, in fact, they are talking to themselves, when - hey up, it's Gary Richardson. I then leap across the bed to switch off, knackering my knee. It's very poorly at the moment. Just had a cortisone injection which doesn't seem to have worked yet.

But isn't that what normal, well-adjusted, sensible, human beings do, save things up? No, is the answer.

My brother happened to ring me after Man Utd had thumped Olympiakos. I said how well they had done, that their long experience of Europe was paying off, and he agreed, it had showed, but I was worried about Newcastle, they were in a bad spell, let's hope Bellamy is better, Shearer's got his bandage off, tra la, and before I could stop him, he told me the Newcastle score.

"Oh, I always watch both matches at the same time, flicking between them. Doesn't everyone?"

Bloody hell. Aren't people weird? Except me, of course.

So that ruined watching the Newcastle game, though I still did. In fact, I've watched all the Euro games, even the Uefa ones, which, on the whole, were rubbish. Chelsea were embarrassing. How could they play so badly against that Norwegian team? But all the Champions' League games have been terrific, with so much to enjoy. I loved Des Lynam, trying to be helpful, saying "the team wearing leather, I mean yellow", and Bobby Robson was on top form when he moaned about some "sceptical goals".

Man U and Arsenal, with a maximum nine points each, have been excellent, but I still expect Real Madrid to win in the end. I do love watching them, for artistic reasons. Typographically, they are unique, the only team with their names stencilled on the backs of their shirts in a rather lovely typeface.

The Euro games will resume in another week. I'm enjoying waiting for them, savouring them. I'm hoping my knee will be better by then, as it can be tough - takes hard work, discipline, quick reaction, speed on the button. There's no easy games in Europe, Des, especially if they're on at the same time . . .

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 14 October 2002 issue of the New Statesman, Why George no longer loves Tony