Fourth Qualifying Round Report
Emirates FACup 4th Qualifying Round, 15/10/2022, ARMCO Stadium, Solihull
Solihull Moors 1 – Basford United 0 Att. 1058
When we meet friends, or pals, or acquaintances – in fact, pretty much anybody, come to think of it – we tend to ask, (and are asked in turn), ‘How are you’? No one really wants to know, of course. I ask it as much as anybody, though I should know better, I really should. I have suffered from major episodes of depression, the nastiest of which was thirty years back, the last, I hope, seven years ago. I would avoid meeting people wherever possible for fear of being asked ‘How are you’? What can you say in that depressive state? So I should know better than to ask people how they are; unless I know already.
Depression has been a subject for art, literature, drama, music etc etc etc, since someone scratched a picture on a cave wall; but as a Poplad, I have to say that the best account I know of what it’s like to be depressed is ‘When You’re Depressed’ by Go Kart Mozart. Lawrence is one of the great British songwriters, his band Felt were cruelly overlooked in the 80’s; and ‘Back in Denim’ is one of the greatest albums of the 1990’s, but if I had to choose one song by him, it would be this.
What I like in particular is his avoidance of metaphor of any kind. The song is called ‘When You’re Depressed’, and Lawrence tells it straight, from lived experience. How’s this for a verse?
When you’re depressed you stay in bed
And don’t get dressed
You never clean in all the mess
You live in fear
That friends will call
You hide in corners
Behind the door
Seven years since I’ve had sex
I’m pretty sure that I’m not depressed, but I do worry about being asked how I am. What, after all, can I say?
This blog is about following the FACup from Hereford to Wembley over the course of 14 games, and all I have to do in return for sponsor’s kind donations is to find something to say after each game, but it has taken me almost a fortnight to put this post together; the last one was hard too. But, here I am, the night before the first round proper, and I want to say something about the last qualifying game, or they will pile up, and make me anxious, and I could lapse into depressive behaviour. So I will try.
Two weeks ago, I went to see Solihull Moors vs Basford Town in the 4th Qualifying round with my pals Glenn Duggan, Richard Gennis, Bernardo Canas, and Fred Gough. The pie was dreadful, the match OK, made delightful by the people we met and chatted with. But I find the trips are getting harder. My energy is dropping. I feel sick a lot of the time. I’m not sure how much more writing I’ve got left to do, or how much more I want to do. There are footie fans writing up games much better than I could hope to.
After the last game, and my failure to write anything cogent, I got it in my head that I would write a poem, (a sonnet rather than a song) inspired by Lawrence’s frankness, by way of answer to people asking me how I am when they clearly don’t want to know. So I did. I’m clearly not a poet, and so apols.
Toenails dead from chemo, my chiropodist
Sands them away with her Dremel burr set
Nail dust floats in our kitchen light. With my legs
Raised out in front of me on a chair
I notice my ankles are swollen with oedema.
I take the water tablet I am prescribed
To drain the fluid from my legs which
I piss, beyond my control into a Tena pad.
Heavy with urine, it peels away from my briefs
And bags the front of my elasticated joggers.
I hope no one can see I have pissed myself.
I hope no-one can smell the piss in which I sit.
‘How are you?’, people ask in salutation.
‘I’m good!’ I say, as staying cheerful is a social obligation.
Tomorrow, November the fifth, is the First Round Proper, the seventh game out of 14, and we’re back to Solihull Moors to see them take on Hartlepool United. I hope I can get a bit more energised to write this game up!