Wednesday, 28 March 2012

How to pretend you know about soccer

I am a girl. This may come as a shock to some people, but I am.
I also like soccer. Ok, I love soccer. Don't worry, there aren't any more big shocks coming, I promise. So if you're not sitting down, you're probably OK to keep reading.
So I am a girl and I love soccer. Now for some guys, this gives me huge bonus points in the dating realm. Growing up with two soccer mad guys (my dad and my brother) I just know a lot about soccer but for some girls, you might like to able to fake it.
Now I don't want to get you into trouble and have you floundering on a first date when the potential boyfriend asks you your opinion on the passive offside rule, I just want to teach you enough to be able to hold a brief conversation and show an interest.
BEFORE reading this article:
How a guy sees you + football

So, step 1.
STOP calling it soccer! The proper name for the sport is Association Football and someone, somewhere decided that you could take the 'soc' out of Association Football and roll it out to be 'soccer'. It took every ounce of my strength to write the word 'soccer' up until this point and that is the last time I will do so. Unless you are in America. The sport is not called football there, but in almost every other place, it is called football. I know there are many other sports that claim to be 'football' as well, but this sport is also known as 'The World Game'. The FIFA World Cup is held every four years because it actually takes four years of qualifying matches to come down to the final 32 teams! From there, it takes a month to bring those teams down to the final two. More countries enter the World Cup than the Olympics.

Step 2.
Choose a favourite English Premier League Team. The 2011-2012 season consists of these 20 teams.

Manchester United (Manchester)
Manchester City (Manchester)
Arsenal (London)
Tottenham (London)
Chelsea (London)
Newcastle (Newcastle)
Liverpool (Liverpool)
Sunderland (Sunderland)
Everton (Liverpool)
Swansea (Swansea)
Norwich (Norwich)
Stoke (Stoke-On-Trent)
Fulham (Fulham)
West Bromwich Albion (West Bromwich)
Aston Villa (Birmingham)
Blackburn Rovers (Blackburn)
Bolton Wanderers (Bolton)
Queens Park Rangers (London)
Wigan Athletic (Greater Manchester)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolverhampton)

Be careful to see where your new favourite team is on the current table because the bottom three will be relegated to first division and will no longer play in the English Premier League next season. Then you'll have to pick a new team or try and follow a team that does not get much media coverage outside of England.

You can choose a team based on the name (Stoke's nickname is the Potters if you're a Harry Potter fan, but it is based on the pottery industry, not the wizard), a colour (Wolves are bright orange!) or any other cute reason. As long as you can explain why you like the team, I'm sure the boy won't mind. If you're dad or brother likes a team, it's a safe bet to pick that one as 'family history' is a strong factor! If you pick one of the big four, you might be in for a bit of questioning. Manchester United is particulary dangerous and they have many "bandwagon supporters" who pretend to like Man Utd because it's the only team they've really heard of. The others are Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea based on their many years of success. Manchester City are a recent addition but their success is a lot to do with money.

Step 3.
Refer to the English Premier League as the EPL. Do remember what it stands for, but it's most commonly just shorted to 'EPL' or 'Premier League' in context of a discussion about English football.

Step 4.
Read the Wikipedia page for your new club. You will be caught out if you pretend to be a Liverpool fan and meet the word 'Hillsborough' with a blank look. Just familiarise yourself. You should be able to list a few accomplishments, know where abouts they are on the table and be aware of any club rivalries. For example, if you pick Tottenham and you go on a date with a Chelsea supporter, be prepared for a few fireworks and good natured ribbing. You should definitely be able to name the stadium your team calls home.

Step 5.
This one is tricky, but it's pretty essential that you try to remember the usual starting 11. There are 11 players from each team on the field and the same 16 or so rotate who starts or comes later in the game. Familiarise yourself with the names, particularly the stars of the team (and pay attention to the pronunciation as you will look a bit stupid if you start referring to 'Teevees' when it is 'Teves' or pronounce 'De Jong' with a hard J instead of the soft J.)

Step 6.
Famous names. You won't be able to recognise their picture but you should recognise these names.
Pele: Arguably the greatest football player ever. He played for Brazil and is the greatest goal scorer of all time. His name is pronounced 'Pell-ay'.
Maradonna: An Argentinian mid-fielder / striker who is famous for his 'hand of God' goal in the 1986 World Cup. Argentina beat England 2-1 and one of the goals was a clear handball to everyone with eyesight except the referee, who allowed it. Maradonna himself claimed later the goal was, "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God". The appropriate response to this is outrage.
Messi: Ah, Lionel Messi. YouTube him. If someone asks you about Messi, you should arrange your face into one of pure adoration and say these words, "It's like he has the ball attached to his foot with a string!" The person will assume you know just who he is. (He's a striker for Barcelona, a Spanish football team, by the way.)
Ronaldo: You probably know the name Cristiano Ronaldo. He was in The Simpsons after all and he's somewhat good-looking so he makes the gossip mags sometimes. He used to play for Manchester United but now plays for Real Madrid (another Spanish football team). He was player of the year many times running and contrary to popular belief, does NOT play for Brazil. A suspicious guy may try and trip you up if you mention Ronaldo. His international team is Portugal. OK?

Step 7.
Random facts that you should know and be able to throw into conversation should they come up.
Spain won the last World Cup.
The next World Cup is being held in Brazil in 2014.
The current EPL title race is between Manchester City and Manchester United.
In league football, a team gets three points for a win, 1 point for a draw and no points for a loss.
Each EPL season runs from August to May and your team will play every other team in the EPL twice - once at home and once at the home of the opponent.

AFTER reading this article:
How a guy sees you + football

If you get caught out, put on your cutest smile and say, 'Oh, really? I didn't know that!' Don't admit you aren't interested, listen intently and try to learn. You're obviously pretty damn awesome or he wouldn't be talking to you anyway, right? And you don't need to be one of the guys, just hold a conversation. But football is the most watched sport in the world, so why not join the crowds? Or better yet, sign up to a local team and really learn to play!

Miss SAMawdsley xx

You'll Never Walk Alone...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


~ Samantha Mawdsley, 2008

Hot breath leers at my neck
I blink my eyes
The darkness is thick from my slumber
I should be safe in my bed
Am I still asleep?
Am I dreaming?

His eyes swim in the darkness
they drink me in
In the moment I see that hungry look
too many unwanted touches…
I am remembering
I am repulsed

I don’t understand
why this man is standing over me
And yet my innocence knows
exactly what brought him here
But he is family
You trust family

His own family, his stepdaughter
lies sleeping beside me
All I can think is please not her
don’t let her see
or understand
or sympathise…

He tells me he couldn’t sleep
He needs me
I watch his face contort and relax
He asks me to kiss him
I repress
I forget

I don’t want to remember that Christmas…

I used to have nightmares when I was a child
And there was a monster
I woke up…

I lived a nightmare when I was seventeen
I woke up
And there was a monster

I copied and pasted that from my DeviantArt account. I don't want to reread it. I don't want to go back to that place. But that is the starting point for my story.

Today on Twitter I came across a hashtag, #IDidNotReport & people were detailing why they did not report being the victim of sexual violence or abuse. It began because of a poor attitude to rape. A player on a team might say "Man, we raped the opposition Friday night." This is casual. So when a girl is actually raped on Saturday night, no big deal. I know this is a very extreme view, but forgive, I was knocked unconscious in a football game last night & thinking too much hurts my head.

Many people believe sexual assault or violence is not that common. Because according to the statistics, it's not. But what #IDidNotReport actually shows is just how often victims do not report the crimes against them. I don't think I have an IRL girlfriend who does not have their own #IDidNotReport story.

@A_hectic_bloke #ididnotreport because he was ~respected~ in the ~scene~ and I didn't want to lose friends. Or upset his fiancĂ©e.

@Stubbornella #ididnotreport because I was too little to know I had any right to my own body... to say no.

@elmyra #ididnotreport the guy who groped me on the train home, aged 14. Thought I had to deal with it by myself.

@TheFatGirlGuide #ididnotreport because ppl think because you're plus size, you should take what you get.

@Princess_Sassy #IDidNotReport but told my family what my "uncle" tried to do. Nobody in the family talks to me anymore even though every girl said 'me too'

You get the idea. And yes, the last one is me. So why didn't I report it? I'm comfortable enough in myself to talk about many things - my mental illnesses, my experience with domestic violencemy phobias & I'm even brave enough to post near naked photos in the interests of loving your body. Well I did tell somebody. I told my mum. The "uncle" & his family wouldn't have been at the end of our street before I was running into my mum, calm tears pouring down my cheeks, telling her what happened. This was two days after the event. I was eighteen. They were staying with us for Christmas.

Why didn't I run straight into my mum's bedroom after it happened? Better yet, why didn't I scream when he tried? I didn't want to wake my cousin, his stepdaughter, who was asleep beside me. I didn't want to cause a giant fight with my uncles and aunty's, cousins and my grandmother. I waited until everybody left - two whole days of playing happy families - before I admitted what happened. I thought of everyone but myself.

I have two female cousins on that side of my family. One of them admitted straight away he had tried it with her too. The other, his stepdaughter, kept quiet for a few weeks. Then one day when her mum dropped her off at school, she turned around and ran back to the car. Wordlessly she shoved a note at her before running away. She was also a victim but she had to live with him.

My brother wasn't told. I just asked my father if I told him or not. Apparently my brother told him - many years later when he found out. Mum said she would handle it. That involved not telling my brother or father because truth be told, they very well may have killed him. I just apologised to my father for not telling him.

I don't talk to that side of the family. I was asked to please be civil and go to my real uncle's birthday party even though he would be there. They tried to coax me, admitting it was a surprise wedding. I still refused. So my "uncle" went. I did not. I cannot keep the peace, I just can't. I demand to be treated with more respect than that and they didn't like it. I am a pleasant and amicable person but people do not like those rare days when I grow a back bone.

I have cousins and young friends who may be reading this. And I hope they are. I want them to know my advice - talk to me. Talk to someone. Do NOT suffer in silence. Do NOT put yourself through anything to protect somebody who would hurt you. There is NO reason you should feel you should be silenced. Talk about it. And do NOT, and I can't stress this enough, DO NOT be ashamed.


But sadly, and as much as I wish I had, #IDidNotReport

Miss SAMawdsley xx

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

My tea party funeral

I went to a funeral today. If you've ever read my blog, you'll know I have thanatophobia (fear of death). My aunty expected me not to come but I always feel I should honour the life of someone I knew & loved, even if it makes me terribly uneasy.

On the way to the funeral, I had a chat to Dad about our funerals. The funny thing is we would be the one to organise the other's funeral if we died any time soon. I have ideas about what I would do for Dad & I shared those with him. His idea for his own funeral was a big football game that all attendees have to play! But I was also curious what he would do for me.

He said he would bury me dressed like Alice in Wonderland. That made me so happy! I'd never considered what I would wear, I guess I just thought a pretty dress but with this idea, I imagined, rather than being buried, I would be tumbling down a rabbit hole & this thought made me smile. I actually find this thought comforts me!

Music wise, he would play 'You'll never walk alone' by Gerry & The Pacemakers. It's the Liverpool anthem, it was sung at my grandfather's funeral & it will be sung at my dad's, my brother's and my funeral too. I don't know what other songs Dad would pick.

Dad told me he would, rather than have a traditional wake, have everyone attend a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. I could just imagine all the people I love best gathered together eating scones & drinking tea from mismatched tea cups - sharing (hopefully fond) memories of me.

I asked Dad if he could invite my Twitter followers. That may sound weird, but when ever I feel alone, I remember I have a stack of people who enjoy my "company" - even if it is on the Internet. And if they felt they would like to attend to say goodbye to me, I would love them to do so.

One thing I did say was I don't know who would speak at my funeral. I am the public speaker in the family & none of my friends are enthusiastic public speakers. I would like to know who would step up & do it. I would love to know who would share stories & what their favourite stories would be. Would they write a script or poem like I would or would they tell stories, off the cuff?

Isn't it funny that the occasion that supposedly represents your entire existence is arranged by people other than you. It will not be my party, it will be the party my loved ones have for me. Firstly I hope it's a long way off & secondly, I hope it is a happy occasion full of people who love me but smile because they knew me!

Miss SAMawdsley xx


  • What thoughts or plans do you have for your own funeral?
  • Who would plan your funeral & what do you think they would arrange for you?