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The Geezers' Guide To Football: A Lifetime of Lads and Lager (Mainstream Sport) Paperback – 24 Sep 1998
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"Geezers" are the lifeblood of modern football, for income and atmosphere. But who are they? And how does a reasonably sane male transform himself into a sexist, elitist and abusive yob every time he walks though a turnstile? This is an in depth examination of this misunderstood group.
From the Author
A little about my new, and favourite book to date.
Although I come from a comedy background, The Geezers Guide To Football is my first real foray into comedy writing and so far, it has been a huge success. The response from reviewers and public alike has been excellent.
It is true to say that this book is really the opposite of the others I have written. In those, I have looked at the serious side of being a football fan but as we all know, being a fan involves humour and laughs.
But rather than write a serious book, I looked for a way to do this one that would not only inform, it would entertain. In the end, I decided that the best way to do it was to take the mickey out of our obsession and that is what this book really is. A parody of the football fan.
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Collins Dictionary tells me says that a Diamond Geezer is “A very nice or good man.” Hmmm …. I’m not sure that Collins have quite got their finger on the pulse there. And the family-owned BabyNames.com has Geezer as a baby name for either a boy or a girl, stating that it means Old. Why on earth would anyone – even an American - call a baby Old?
I was looking for someone to define Geezer for me, to determine the difference between a Geezer who’s ‘one of us’ (a Diamond Geezer or a Blindin’ Geezer, if you like) and a Geezer who’s ‘a bit of a geezer’ (i.e. a bit of a villain) and one who you might refer to as, “’Ave a butchers at that geezer over there,” which is a definite indication to take the mickey.
How are the Americans ever supposed to learn our language when the very same word, expressed in the very same dead-pan manner the English are famous for, can have so many different connotations, only discernible by an almost subconscious nuance of the voice or a flick of the eyes that would certainly go unnoticed by an American …. Or even an English anorak at a football game?
I was at my wit’s end. I know what a Geezer is, but I didn’t know how to put it into words – even though I like to think of myself as a Geezer. And then I stumbled, quite accidentally, upon Dougie Brimson’s ‘Geezer’s Guide to Football,’ and right there and then gave up including the word Geezer in my New York column for that week. I wanted a couple of paragraphs, Dougie’s written a whole book on the subject, and a very funny book at that.
Whenever I picked up Brimson’s GGTF – or whenever I switched on my Kindle to read it – I found myself smiling.
As advice for people who aren’t Geezers but wannabe, and geezers who aren’t football fans but wannabe, Dougie discusses choosing your football team, explaining in no uncertain terms that once decided upon there’s no going back. You only get one chance to get it right. Choosing a football team to support isn’t like a marriage, where you have divorce options. Unlike your wife, in some cases, your football team is for life. You can’t change. You can’t.
Ask West Ham fans. I’ve never known a club whose fans hate their own team so much. But they still turn up every week to shout abuse at opposing fans and their own players in equal measure. If you don’t understand that then you shouldn’t be reading this book. Football brings you so much misery and heartache. But it’s also full of passion! People say the English have no passion. Well, try going to a football match – especially a local derby – and you’ll see passion there. And the balance of misery and joy in football is proportionate. You walk home, or drive, or catch the train (Dougie explains why a Geezer never uses the club bus for transportation) and you’re either full of elation or despair. Nothing else. Elation or despair. That’s it.
And you roll with the punches!
Two fellas come to mind, both pals of mine. Paul’s from Sunderland and I met him when his dad’s work brought the family down to London and he joined our school. Paul’s a Mak’em through and through and has kept his allegiance to Sunderland AFC ever since. Once he started earning a wage he renewed his season ticket and for several years would travel up to Sunderland from London, never missing a home game, and of course attending as many away games as it was possible to get to. Now Paul’s not a Geezer, far from it, but there’s no denying he’s a football fan. He has valid reasons for supporting his club and they’ve never wavered. It never crossed his mind, even as a kid, to take the easy option and support Arsenal or Chelsea. And although you might not appreciate his choice of club, you have to approve of his loyalty. Paul has earned the right to call himself a football fan.
And then there’s Richie, who is a Geezer. Richie’s club is Hayes Town, or Hayes & Yeading as they’re now known. He’s been a supporter ever since him and his brothers used to climb over the hoarding in the north-west corner to get in. And as Dougie Brimson discusses with such clarity in this book, he can’t change. You can reverse almost any decisions you’ve ever made, but you can’t change your skin colour, and you can’t change your kids and you can’t change your football club.
Richie’s 6’5", a builder by trade and has a stupid haircut, none of which makes him a Geezer, of course, but I’ll tell a little story and you’ll understand why Richie is most certainly a Geezer. And if you don’t understand then again this book’s not for you.
Richie lived a few houses away and I was having a drink with him at his place. His wife was out with their daughter and Richie was in looking after the boy. We were hitting the bottle and putting the world to rights, as you do. But it looked as though we were going to run out of booze so as Richie was babysitting I offered to pop around to the off-licence and pick up a few more cans. No problem.
However, although it was only a couple of minutes around the corner, when I got there the off-license was closed. Well, I had a thirst on, and so did Richie, so I decided to hoof it down the road, a much longer journey, and pick up some bottles at the Co-op. We’re now talking of a journey, there and back, of about 30 minutes, but I set off.
By the time I got back I found Richie walking down the street with the toddler in his left arm, looking for me. I’d set off on a five-minute mission and had been gone almost 30 minutes. Richie thought I’d been jumped. We didn’t live in the best area and knowing what a stubborn so-and-so I can be at times he figured someone had said something to me and I hadn’t been able to leave it. He figured I’d answered back, they’d said something else and one thing had led to another. You know how it is.
As he was also sure I’d be outnumbered, he’d got hold of the boy and come marching down the road to bail me out.
I said, “But what can you do with the lad in your arms?”
“I’ve still got one other arm, and I can kick as well,” he replied, grinning.
Now you probably don’t approve of that story. I don’t approve of it either. You should, of course, never place children in danger, and to enter a possible fierce and impassioned situation with a child in your arms is irresponsible in the extreme. But …..
….. top Geezer, right?
Look at me, I’m telling Geezer stories instead of reviewing this excellent book. I’ll take issue with Dougie on a couple of points. First off he states quite correctly (for the most part) that, “Anyone who actually has the brass neck to walk into the ground where your boys are playing wearing any kind of replica shirt other than that of either of the two teams on the park deserves to be physically abused.” Okay, as I say, unless they’re seven and a half years old I’ve no issue with this statement, but I have done it myself. I support Watford, and at the end of the 2010-11 season when AFC Wimbledon won promotion from the Conference by beating L***n (we don’t say that word in our house) in a 4-3 penalty shoot-out in the Conference National Play-Off Final, thus establishing L***n firmly in the Conference for at least another season, I went straight out and bought myself an AFC Wimbledon shirt with the logo ‘Promoted to the Football League 2011.’
And I wore that shirt proudly to Watford games for a few weeks. So, there are exceptions.
And secondly, if I were to find fault with the book, it would be in the use of the word ‘footie,’ which is mentioned about 25 times. Surely Geezers don’t use that word. It’s more a Jeremy Clarkson type of word, much like saying, “Ping me an email,” or, “I went for a cheeky pint.” Geezers don’t use words like that.
But that aside, any book that can cause the corners of my mouth to turn up on just about every page is no bad thing at all, and I would highly recommend anyone read this book.
GGTF offers solid advice for those who aspire to become Geezers, but in closing I should warn that in my opinion there is another species of Geezer who for the most part has very little to do with football (and thus very little to do with this book) but on extremely rare occasions these can be seen at a match. They reside on a higher spiritual plane than most Geezers and just as your Fan I.D. can be ‘C’, ‘B’, ‘A’ or ‘A+’ these are in fact Geezer+. For a Geezer+ none of the Geezer rules outlined by Dougie in GGTF apply. They can break them all and remain Geezers. This is a serious warning to novice Geezer who may not recognise the subtle differences.
I’ve been known as a bit of a raconteur so I’ll recite another story. James is half Gypsy, and he’s not right. A Geezer would be able to tell that. He’s not a mate, but I know him, and I’ll tell you that he’s not right. He visited Millwall a couple of seasons back with mates for a bit of a laugh. He couldn’t care less about football and he couldn’t care less about the hostile atmosphere at the Den. He probably didn’t even notice it. James, you see, can look ferocious when he’s playing tiddlywinks. He would have walked from South Bermondsey Station, past the Gypsy camp – maybe he has relatives there – past the scrap metal yard and the skip company, making a mental note in case he needs either in the future, and into any pub in Bermondsey without anyone questioning his status as Geezer.
In the ground, he would have insulted the Beautiful Game, freely admitted that he knows nothing about football, asked his mates loudly what shirts Millwall were playing in, laughed at the players of both sides, laughed at some ‘geezer’ in the crowd and got away with it.
Why? Because he’s Geezer+ and even the earthy Millwall supporters, 90% of whom are Geezers, would have recognised James as such.
Another quick Geezer+ story before I go; In 2003 Watford were beaten 2-1 by Southampton in the FA Cup Semi-Final at Villa Park. I was in the crowd with my lad (6-years-old at the time) and a West Midlands scaffolding company had given my wife two corporate tickets, so she took her dad. Dougie discusses ‘corporate’ in GGTF and he also discusses ‘wimmin’ at football, leaving no doubt as to his views on both, but it is what it is.
So, my wife’s in ‘corporate’ with her dad and there’s a geezer in there wearing a yellow suit. “What!” I hear you say, “You’d never find a Geezer in a yellow suit, especially at football.” And you’re right, of course. But this Geezer looked like he could carry it off. He had a swagger to him and he wore his yellow suit like a big ‘Stuff you’ to anyone not wearing a yellow suit. She just had to see what his face looked like. So, she crept up nervously, stood beside him and then stole a surreptitious glance. It was Vinnie Jones.
Geezer+ you see.
Okay, I’ve exorcised Dougie Brimson now, and I’ll crack on with reading some other book about autumn mists and weary rocks and caramel brown rivers and turquoise waters and babies smiling and musical brooks and the eternal war of the sea and the shore and all that other slushy stuff, BUT it is with no small measure of sadness that I turn the final cover of this book and leave the life of the Geezer behind. I said in the beginning that Brimson is a Geezer’s genius, but he’s much more than that. He is a master of terrace and Geezer psychology. He understands football ‘firms’ like no other, and he’s written a book that in my opinion is not to be missed.
If you’re a Geezer, pick this book up. Like me, you’ll find yourself smiling away as you read it. If you’re a wannabe or novice Geezer, you need this book. Either way, you’ll recognise your mates in here, and you’ll recognise others you see (or hear) on a regular basis in the pub before the game or sitting close to you during the match.
A top read!
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