Stages Of Watching A Malta Football Match
The inevitable rollercoaster of emotion
Malta never really excelled in football but that doesn't mean we shouldn't get excited every time our national team plays. After all, we have a number of world-class players. Despite a history of poor results, we can't help but get excited for each game. The feeling of being the underdog who's about to shine is just too strong to forget. So this is what happens... every time.
1. Finding out a game is approaching and channeling your inner patriot
None of us actually follow Malta's national team closely enough to know an important game is approaching. But when you start seeing headlines of an upcoming game, you inevitably get sucked into the hype. Malta mentioned on the Daily Mail? This must be big.
2. Following the build up and looking for any reason to believe we can do it
Did you hear the good news? The team we're playing just had a really bad week. Their key player is injured. Their coach is being replaced. They've just experienced a national tragedy. They're not used to the weather. Whatever we need to believe to muster a shred of hope that this time won't be another hopeless fail.
3. Watching the Maltese fans getting excited all over the stadium... and on Facebook
Those huge Maltese flags. Those drunken familiar faces singing 'Għax Aħna Maqgħudin'. It's like a mass meeting but without that eerie divide between your Nationalist and Labour friends. Today they're all friends with each other. The excitement is palpable (#SouthEndCore) and it's spreading to Facebook with endless selfies and live Facebook videos from outside and inside the stadium. With all this support, our players must make it happen.
4. Watching the national anthem and thinking: We can do this!
Our players line up looking beautifully manicured and confident. Then the innu kicks in: "Ħaaares Muleeejjjejjj..." Safe in the knowledge that God is on our side, things are looking good.
5. The game begins and we're still standing after five minutes: Peak confidence
No goals against us in the first few minutes? We've got this in the bag.
6. The inevitable first goal that dashes the hope
"Ok, we're going to get demolished. It's going to be 6-0. We're absolute shit. Why are we even watching this?"
7. Soon replaced by denial: "Maybe this is it? Maybe we'll score one back and it'll be ok?
We can still do this!
8. The realisation that the possession statistics are shocking
Hovering at just over 20% you realise that Malta is just a bit out of its depth and it's probably not going to get better.
9. The other goals...
"We knew this would happen. The writing was on the wall. We clearly don't invest enough in football aye. Look at Iceland, they can play football and they're also 400,000 people. I blame X, Y and Z."
10. The tiny last bit of hope
Usually personified by Michael Mifsud. One hopeful tackle close to the end of the game that brings the ball close to the opponent's goalpost and wakes up the goalkeeper from the most boring game of his life. "This must be it! We can still do it! We'll score this and another and another and we're sorted!"
11. The absolute killer goal that ends it all... Or the final whistle.
Followed by one or all of these three reactions:
"This was the result we were expecting all along."
"The Maltese team did their best."
"This was disappointing."
Bonus: The inevitable discussion about how much money we should be spending on football
And probably a line or two about how much we should be spending on Eurovision.