In the calendar year, the festive periods distinguish themselves from the routine weeks through various avenues. Most working adults get time-off from work, the usual advertisements of menial objects with little intrinsic value are replaced with adverts of menial objects with little intrinsic value webbed in a festive spirit. If you walked down a metropolitan road, or the suburban backwaters, after a lengthy period in a coma and with no access to a calendar, you’d still know it’s Christmas. The overly decorated houses, the illuminated streets, and the constant reminder to consume would be too difficult to ignore. Festive periods also distinguish themselves by upholding and promoting long-standing cultural traditions, whether culinary or behavioural.
Amongst the breadth of cultural artefacts that mean little to me, one stands above them all: ‘Boxing Day Football.’ A tradition that has been broadcasted widely to the world outside of this small island via its hyper-branded, capitalist megalith: the Premier League. The top-flight football has become a 21st century Naval fleet, coasting the radio and TV waves to project Britain’s soft power in unassuming countries. Unfortunately for the supporters of these elite clubs, is it is a timely and costly tradition to adhere to — seats are expensive and highly contested amongst the legions of supporters from across the globe. Boxing Day on the TV has also become a sanitised product, in which any fixture, however innocuous it may sound(Southampton vs Wolverhampton anyone?), is packaged into an easily digestible, easily forgettable product. Similar to most Christmas presents.
In the period leading up to Christmas I have found a love for the non-league or lower-league football; I have felt drawn by the aesthetics, or lack thereof, of these community clubs, long forgotten by the spotlights of the market. Amongst the glittering gold of the Premier League, I’ve found a longing to discover the iron and tin elements of the football I fell in love with. This desire for what the Premier League has left in the shadows, has turned into a Jungian quest to confront and revel in this shadow-self. With this in mind, and with my family and S.O. in toe, we spent our Boxing Day watching Hanworth Villa FC vs Chertsey Town FC — a Wessex County League confrontation. This happened to be the closest game to where we were spending Christmas, about a 30min walk from the house I had grown-up as a teenager. This was to be my first visit to what should constitute as my local team.