Time goes faster the older you get. Everyone over the age of 20 knows this. When you’re young you think the rest of your life will take an eternity to run its course. But once you are over that teenage hump, in the blink of an eye you are 40 and you realise that after an even quicker blink of the other eye you’ll be close to retirement. Where do these years go?
It feels like about an hour since I moved to Auckland – it was 18 years ago. It feels like about 20 minutes since I started university – it was 14 years ago. It feels like about ten minutes since I married my partner – it was 8 years ago. As a very wise man by the name of Mick Jagger once said, “time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me”. This stuff plays on your mind if you let it.
But fear not because help is at hand! If you’re like me, and you can’t help yourself from angsting about how short life is from time to time, I have wonderful news for you – I have discovered the fountain of youth! Yes, that’s right, I can stop time. How? There is a secret and it’s this – support a football team that is performing poorly. Trust me, it works. It’s only been three years since Roma were last in the Champions League, but to me it feels like a bloody eternity!
There are still two games left in season 2013/14, against Juventus and Genoa, but for all intents and purposes the season is over. Roma will finish in second place, as bridesmaids to the ‘Old Lady’ (Juventus). Barring a calamity of Calciopoli style proportions it’s mathematically impossible for there to be any other outcome and, while it’s tempting to be a bit down about this, the truth is if you had offered me second at the start of the season I would have bitten your arm off!
This is the happiest I have felt as a Roma fan at the end of a season in as long as I can remember. I have followed them through second place finishes before, but this one is different. In the past it has been with squads that if they had somehow managed to win the league, it wouldn’t have been because of how great they were. It would have been because of how decidedly average everyone else was. Deep down I never really believed they deserved it. This time we have a side that if they are to become champions next season or the season after, it will be an achievement to truly be proud of by a team that will rank alongside the other undeniably wonderful Roma sides to have won scudetti over generations past.
With second place comes a guaranteed place in the group stage of the Champions League. For most Romanisti around the world this means the prestige of following a team that plays at the highest level in the world possible for a club side, along with the chance of seeing the most overdue and beautiful sight imaginable become a reality – Francesco Totti lifting ‘Auld Big Ears’. But for fans like me living in this football backwater of the globe, the Champions League means something much more fundamental. For the first time in three years, Roma will be on television! When it comes to watching Serie A I will still have to endure illegal streams that are more blurry than a photo of the Loch Ness Monster, and that stop and start more often than a 15 year old learning to drive a manual. But at least next season there will be some games, meaningful games, on ESPN and that, for me, is worth its weight in gold.
The other silver lining contained within the slight disappointment of the scudetto race being over is the relief that no matter what happens this weekend, we will not be suffering the indignity of watching bloody Juventus celebrate their 30th scudetto in OUR stadium. That would have been nigh on unbearable. I’m not sure I’ll even bother watching the game now. What’s the point? It’s time to move on.
Thanks are due to Rudi Garcia and the nothing short of phenomenal job he did of coaching that team. Thanks also to the magical season that players like Pjanic, Gervinho, Maicon, Benatia, Strootman, Castan, De Rossi, De Sanctis, Destro, and even the aging godfather of them all Francesco Totti delivered for us. And thanks of course to the professional and super slick ownership and management of the club. Thanks to all of them, the time for angsting about Roma is at an end for the time being. Thanks to those giants it’s now time to start angsting about something different but equally as serious – no, it’s not how life is going to speed back up again now that we’re back to winning ways. It’s gli Azzurri at the World Cup! Daje!
Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/