While football fans have been demonized (what’s new!) over the last few days, the level of vitriol aimed now seems unprecedented.
Even the suggestion that going to football games could be good for mental health have received pushback. Unfortunately, this is the society we live in where football fans are the easiest targets of all.
If you are struggling due to the games not being on, reach out to somebody, anybody. Trust me, no matter the sneering from the elites, you are important to people you might not even know. If you feel you are struggling, here is one of several great charities you can reach out to – Kick Mental Health.
Fans from various clubs united to talk about how football is indeed good for mental health (not that it even needs to be said). Here are them talking about it in their own words.
Michael McGuire (@1MichaelMcGuire) – Rangers fan
I discovered in May 2009 what football and mental health together meant for me. 9th of May 2009, Steven Davis scored in the pouring rain at Ibrox. I raised a smile just 3 days after I lost my son to Still-birth. It was the first glimmer of hope I’d seen in those 72 hours and it gave me such hope to look for. As a Man I was broken and trying to live up to a social stereotype of being strong.
For the next 2 years, a player named Kyle would come to life around my lad’s birthday. Coincidence of course. Try telling me that. It gave me hope.
In the last decade, I’ve met friends across the game. From Rangers to Celtic, Hearts to Hibs and St Johnstone. Maybe divided for 90 minutes but united by the love of our game. I owe these people everything for their love and kindness.
2 years into a pandemic, you do whatever you can to maintain that balance that’s sometimes on a knife edge at the best of times.
It’s more than a game to so many of us.
Callum McFadden (@CallumWFi) – Celtic fan
Football is much more than just a game. The thrill of a Saturday is more than just watching a game of football. It’s meeting up with friends, going on supporters buses and the smell of the food vendors as you approach the stadium. Buying the match programme, settling into your seat and hearing that rush of noise as your team emerge looking for an ever important three points. That is Saturday at 3 pm.
That is why we love football and that is what we as football fanatics desperately need back in the routine of our lives. I hope we do not need to miss games for any longer than is necessary because football is the best escapism from the ups and downs of life out there for me.
Gordon Sheach (@TheTartanScarf) – Hearts & Scotland fan
One of my favourite things about being a Scotland fan is that it has the power to bring the entire country together. You saw that when Scotland qualified for Euro 2020 by beating Serbia, the outpouring of emotion on the streets and social media profiles of this country was a beacon of joy in the darkest of years.
Since then, the performances from Steve Clarke’s team have built optimism around the entire country. It’s been wonderful to see so many people returning to supporting the national team. The scenes at Hampden after we beat Israel when a capacity crowd stayed behind after full time to boogie, sing and dance were utterly joyful. The memory of those moments will never fail to put a smile on my face.
Calum Brown (@Calum_Brown99) – Livingston fan
Football to me means absolutely everything, there isn’t a passing moment where it’s not in my head and it gets me through the toughest times in my day to day life. Just the thought of that next game, that next goal, it’s what my whole week leads up to and it’s what motivates me each and every day until 3pm on a Saturday finally comes along.
Mental health is absolutely huge in football, and it’s relevant to supporters, coaches and players themselves who will often see it as an escape when they’re out on that pitch like the fans feel being in the terraces. I’m proud that my club, Livingston FC, have a terrific partnership with Kick Mental Health who host weekly zoom meetings for absolutely anyone to check-in and simply speak about their feelings.
As a supporter myself, I believe football can be the absolute key to battling those demons that go on in a person’s day to day life, it’s that escape that they get and continually look forward to. It’s everything to many, including myself, and I hope that we can get as many people into football stadiums as soon as it’s safe to do so!!