You might have great hopes for taking your child to their first football game when they are still babies. However, when it starts to creep closer to the time that they want to go to the match, you start to feel a little more anxious. The reality of keeping them warm, ease of access to toilets and the very real potential of crushing disappointment replace all those soft-focused dreams of fun bonding sessions in your mind.
The time came for me this week. 4-year-old Elsa had suddenly decided that she wanted to come with me to see Scunthorpe United. I should add that she had made this decision at a time when the mighty Iron were on a run of five defeats in a row. Yikes.
What Happened When Elsa Went to Her First Game?
I genuinely don’t know how this happened, but Elsa’s first football game was an absolute corker. It helped that Oxford are having a similarly bad season. Two teams low on confidence who have trouble keeping the ball out of their own net can sometimes be a recipe for a goalfest, but it tends to be a turgid affair. Thankfully it was the former, as Elsa was insistent that she was making her first trip to the Theatre of Dreams, Glanford Park. Here’s how the day panned out:
It’s difficult to explain to a nearly five-year-old whose only real experience of football is playing it at school that most games do not see your side go 3-0 down, only to surge back to 3-3 and almost nick the win in the last few minutes. But now she reckons that watching live football is the most exciting thing in the world.
I love that she’s into it, I adored the fact she was so excited, I’m looking forward to some great one-on-one time together in the future, but I am keenly aware the next game will not be anywhere near as thrilling. Still, I’ll stock up with snacks again and there’s always the carrot of hanging out with the Scunny Bunny again to dangle in front of her. And, yes, I am proud of that little rabbit/carrot metaphor.
Advice for Taking Your Child to Their First Football Game
I asked for advice for taking your child to their first football game ahead of the weekend, and this was the sort of thing that came through:
Having now taken Elsa to the football, I can only back this up. ‘Just in case’ wees pre-match and at half time meant not missing out on the action and annoying the other people in our row, snacks kept her happy and energised, whilst the 27 layers she was wearing meant she didn’t feel the cold. In addition, a lot of people suggested getting her to meet the mascot, and Scunny Bunny blowing her a kiss was certainly the big talking point of the day for her.
Feel free to add any other suggestions in the Comments section to help out others about to take their kids to the football.
My First Football Game
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so worried about Scunny’s poor run of form. My first game came in the mid-80s and we lost 5-0 to Sheffield Wednesday in a pre-season friendly. After that followed nearly 15 years of abject basement division football. Bear in mind that this was before sports science revolutionised the modern game. The standard of football was shocking. The technical ability was often laughable and fitness was not what it is nowadays. Modern Sunday League teams would probably give those old Division 4 teams a thrashing.
Yet, I fell in love with the game and with the team. In recent years we’ve made the Championship, even surviving one season, and that is a world away from my earliest football memories. As my friend George says in this great article, kids who have started supporting Scunthorpe United in recent years have been spoilt.
Perhaps this is the perfect time to introduce Elsa. If she sees us in a slump, it will make the successful years seem so much sweeter. Maybe I should drag 20-month-old Seth to Glanford Park too – get them both into it before we become good again. Or perhaps Oxford’s leaky defence allowing us to come back so spectacularly has ruined that plan completely.