I wrote recently about quitting things I love (downhill mountain biking and playing 5-a-side football).

Another consideration, which pains me to admit, is the watching of football.

Like many of my countryfolk, I have fallen hook, line and sinker, since early childhood, in love with the beautiful game and some of my most ecstatic memories have come via the vehicle of the sport, be it Barnet staying in the football league in a last day decider or England providing yet another false dawn in a major tournament.

But recently, I have found myself putting on the games and becoming utterly bored with the offerings.

Touted as the pinnacle of the game, the Champions League and Premier League are sold as the Selfridges of sport: offering glossed-up, highly produced works of art which ultimately end in dull tactical stalemates as, against our better judgement, we continue to buy into the lie.

But then, having turned over for a recent game to watch American Nightmare which, as a tale of a kidnap in the States, was infinitely more entertaining than Wolves against Fulham or whoever it was. I, after nearly 50 years of watching the game and on the verge of quitting, stumbled upon the reason why, although dimmed, my love will never be allowed to die.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Brett Ellis was getting bored watching football on televsionBrett Ellis was getting bored watching football on televsion

On a nondescript Saturday afternoon, I switched on the Ipswich V Maidstone FA Cup fourth-round game. Languishing in the dregs of non-league, the semi-professional Kent plumbers, against the odds and with only two shots on target, somehow managed to defeat, away, the tractor boys.

The stats were staggering. Ipswich had 38 shots to Maidstone’s two, they also had 79% possession and nigh on four times as many passes, but due to grit and determination, the cramp writhen postmen and builders held on for a 2-1 victory.

The joy was palpable, and I couldn’t help but well up at the scenes afterwards - this was their World Cup final and what it meant to them was indescribable.

The team jumped with glee and hugged and cried and then the man of the match, the goalkeeper, Lucas Covolan, took his moment to be interviewed about what it meant to him. He explained, with tears streaming down his face how this was the pinnacle of his life after a tough personal ride.

It is, in many ways, like a marriage: there are times you are sick of the sight of each other and it can be as dull as a hyped-up big four ‘battle’, but ultimately, if you stick with it into extra time, the defences break and the excitement comes back when you least expect it and that is why we should not be too hasty in getting rid of things we love when their time is nowhere near being up.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher.