Well, my goodness me! What a day and a half it’s been! Against odds of 5,000 to 1 – as by now the whole world knows – Leicester City have won the Premier League. It’s utterly astonishing: the whole city is coming together to celebrate and you can practically hear the car-horns honking all across town.
But none of this is as astonishing as the fact that I, a football refusenik; I, whose interest in football was nil; I, who regard the game as generally incomprehensible and a waste of a Saturday afternoon, should give a damn. And yet somehow I’ve been caught up in it, as has OH. I simply couldn’t go to bed last night until I knew the result and as I kept an eye on the live scores I knew an agony previously only reserved for watching British tennis players. Would they do it? Could they? Was it possible? At one point there was a score of 2:1 with not very long to go – then they equalised. I wasn’t sure what that meant and was assured that City would win if Chelsea and Spurs drew – I kept watching – and finally it was full-time. You could almost hear the car-horns from here. In other areas I expect people poured into the streets: I know they gathered at the stadium until late into the night. By this morning all the world’s media were there and we turned on the ‘Today’ programme to hear Peter Soulsby being interviewed about it. It’s a great story and I have found myself thoroughly enthused.
So today, in order to see what was happening, I cycled down to the King Power stadium where a long line of cars, all honking and waving flags, was queueing to get into the car park. Outside the stadium fans milled about all with blue flags unfurled, scarves flapping in the breeze and blue shirts over whatever else they were wearing. There were a whole load of TV vans there and I happened to pass a reporter interviewing someone. ‘Where are you from?’ she asked as the interview ended, and he said he was from the Guardian.
That was my cue: I happened to have seen an article on Facebook from that very paper claiming that whilst the city is very multicultural, the City has very few black or Asian fans. I went up to the reporter and asked him if he could tell his paper to correct this impression as I would judge that a good third of the fans there were black or Asian. He said he would, and I ended up giving an interview.
‘Are you a fan yourself?’ he said.
I explained that I am not a football fan at all but have somehow been caught up in this. I said how good it was for the city to have something to celebrate and how it brought people together. He mentioned Richard III and said how odd it was that both these things should happen so close together to an otherwise low-profile city. I agreed. He was a thoroughly nice bloke and took down all my comments in impressive shorthand. Let’s see if I’m mentioned in tomorrow’s paper: ‘Liz Gray, 58, a writer who has lived in Leicester for 30 years, said…’
Watch this space!