Loveley and laid back, but too cool to care about football?
Ibiza is a wonderful laid-back island. That’s why many of us ex-pats decide to make The White Island our home. While family and former colleagues undertake the daily grind of commuting from their urban sprawl to the city centre office or factory, squashed against fellow passengers who may or may not have shaved under their armpits that day, dodge the ever more militant lycra-clad cyclists, and accept the bollockings from their bosses who never ever praise them for previous jobs well done, we bask in 320+ sunny days a year, surrounded`by sun, sea, sand, and in my case….satellite TV.
Football is my religion
Do I miss things from home? Well, I accept that we are all different, but people who know me know that my religion is football, or more precisely, Manchester United. However, with every home game 1022 miles or 1645 kilometres from home, I get acute withdrawal symptoms almost every weekend.
Between 2000 and 2006 my wife and I lived in Cannes in the South of France where I began my recent career change as a TEFL teacher (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). With conferences and exhibitions throughout the year, Nice Airport was blessed with a plethora of low-cost flights direct to the UK all year round. I would look at the United fixture list, wait for Sky TV to highjack matches, then go online about 6 weeks before my chosen fixture and book a return weekend flight for between 20-50 euros, often less than if I had driven from London to Manchester and paid for a tank and a half of petrol.
My first winter in Ibiza
Fast forward to September 2011 when we arrived in Ibiza. The recession was at its height and the Ibiza authorities decided to withdraw all subsidies for flights in the winter, resulting in no direct flights from Ibiza to the UK.
When asked by all and sundry what I thought of my first winter in Ibiza, I replied that I was immersing myself in this delightful open prison. I couldn’t escape. I felt like Patrick McGowan in The Prisoner. Manchester existed in another universe. Even today the only direct winter flights to the UK are handled by British Airways to London City Airport and they’re not cheap. No impulse buy here I’m afraid.
Evaluating my options
With my nose pressed against the window pane, I evaluated my options. I had gone to the extortionate (compared to the UK) expense of installing satellite TV, but my wife hates football with the same intensity I love it, so watching matches indoors would evoke outbreaks of one woman hooliganism directed against yours truly that most crews would be proud of. Therefore I have no choice but to go down to an English or Irish pub. Not just for the football but also the banter. Now, during the summer in San An there are lots of watering holes broadcasting Premiership and Champions League football, but I live near Can Furnet, halfway between Eivissa and Santa Eularia. Surprisingly I’ve never really found a bar that does proper football in the centre of Ibiza Town, my alternative being one of the British pubs in Santa Eularia, which offer both football as well as a friendly atmosphere.
Pubs that do ‘nutter’
And herein lies the problem. Good, down to earth pubs with good down to earth ex-pats. However, here the laid-back Ibiza vibe suffocates a nutter like me. Football is an outlet for all the week’s pent-up frustration. Being a professional, whether at work or at home I tend to keep my emotions in check. As a TEFL teacher, my students can drift in and out of lessons but I must concentrate for every minute of every lesson every day. At home I try not to take it out on my wife, who may well have had a day and a half herself, but come the weekend… football! This is where I let it all hang out. The referee hasn’t got a father, but that’s not my problem, is it? I sing, I chant, I question the parenthood of the opposing fans and their team. And if I can’t do that inside the stadium, I do it inside the pub.
The only problem is, laid-back people in laid-back pubs don’t do ‘nutter’. Watching United in Ibiza pubs, with my all-consuming, pent-up Red hot passion, makes me feel like a visitor to Madame Tussauds. Manchester United have taken me to higher highs and lower lows than anything else on the planet, including sex (which tells you more about more than any credit rating agency ever can). Why can’t the rest of the pub feel what I feel? They must be dead from the neck upwards. Don’t they realise their whole week is affected by what goes on on that screen for the next 90+ minutes!
Ibiza may be Utopia for many, but just like Kryptonite was the Achilles heel for Superman, so mine is football.