On a Quest for Old Time’s Sake

Adrian de León
10 min readDec 14, 2022

In the middle of World Cup fever, as the knockout stages began and character arcs began to thicken, I felt a need to embark myself on a quest. For the first time I have felt a sense that society would punish me, morally, for enjoying a sport that is loved across the world. Without taking away the real reasons behind why many people have felt uneasy to fully commit to supporting England or any nation in this World Cup, I felt a sense of loss. The sort of loss you feel for a parent suffering from the early stages of dementia: everything on the surface appears as it should, but then the illness creeps up in small snippets of incongruence. I have felt unable to enjoy a football moment without being reminded of the moral and social implications of the tournament. I felt a void and within its abyss I heard a call longing for an antidote to what football had become for many. That is why I decided to take myself to go watch live football on the weekend.

Alongside the social and moral implication of this World Cup there has been the unusual timing of the tournament: a Winter affair replacing the usual (northern Hemisphere) Summer. This means the domestic league has been put on hold and will resume a couple of weeks after the final. This is true for the Premier League but the rest of the football league saw games resume this weekend. So with my footballing spirit put on a moralistic trial during this tournament, and a return of available live football at my disposal, I decided to brave the minus temperatures and find the closest match to attend. This is how I ended up spending my Saturday afternoon watching Sutton United take on Colchester at the Gander Green Lane stadium. Luckily for me, my obliging and supportive partner agreed to join me. This was a bottom of the table clash in the English fourth tier, and I knew nothing of either team and had no prior knowledge that this was Sutton United’s first season in the football league. Sutton was itself a place we knew nothing about; with its only association in my mind being a short-lived Channel 4 Comedy called Phoneshop which was shot on Sutton’s high street.

The trip began in frustration as we missed the one train that would’ve taken us to Sutton in time to catch kick-off, so instead we had to complete our journey by catching two buses — taking us through parts of South London we had never seen. The bus…