I didn’t care if I ended up in row Z, surrounded by screaming Oranje fans. Once the game had finished and my heart rate had settled down to an acceptable level, I spent most of last night figuring out how to get back to The Hague to support the England boys in the World Cup semi final on Friday and their medal match on Sunday. Forget Brazil – the real World Cup is on right now.
I’m fighting a few demons of my own about not having the chance to actually play in this World Cup. But having experienced the competition myself as a player eight years ago, this time it has instead been another outing as a “hockey WAG” for me. As it turns out, this can be a bit of a roller coaster ride too, which is what I’ll attempt to paint a picture of here.
Presumably, life as the wife or girlfriend of a hockey player is rather different to that of a football WAG. Speaking personally, I don’t do my hair and nails for the occasion, and I wear a sensible coat and comfortable shoes. I understand hockey and I’m definitely there to see, not to be seen. As one of my friends told me today, I’m “the opposite of a WAG”! There’s certainly no first class flights, 5* hotels or VIP seats. That’s not a bad thing though – meeting and mixing with other supporters and the players’ families at the stadium is all a big part of the fun. I have already spent a few days in Holland watching, largely on my own, and I enjoyed it without ever feeling too lonely.
Supporting on your own can be a strange experience. I suppose it’s a bit like going to the cinema alone – even though it’s all about what you’re watching, a quick word to someone about what is happening, or a simultaneous laugh, grimace or celebration makes it an experience best shared. The difference to a trip to the cinema is that when I watch hockey, I know firsthand the hard work and dedication put in, and the pain and desire the England players feel. The last ten minutes of a close game you care about is a million times worse to watch than to play in. Mostly because I’m desperate for them to win… and a tiny little bit because I don’t want to have to try to help (usually in vain) to pick up the pieces afterwards if they don’t.
There are a few things that can be pretty irritating when fulfilling WAG duties. Perhaps I’m a spoil sport, but people with vuvuzelas should probably just steer clear of me. Mexican waves are actually just annoying interruptions to my view of the pitch – as far as I’m concerned, if you don’t want to watch the game properly, don’t sit in the stadium. A snatched five minutes of post-game conversation with a tired, sometimes sweaty and occasionally emotional boyfriend can make you feel better and worse all at once.
Anyway, I’ve managed to sort out the weekend. A very early morning flight and a lonely ticket up in the Gods will be totally worth it to give a little extra voice to those England boys playing their hearts out in the World Cup semi final. If I get to be the only person in a red and white shirt celebrating madly amidst a sea of orange ones, it’ll be even better. Come on the boys!