Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Head to Head - Can football compare to the pinnacle of motorsport? - A first-time trip to watch a Premier League football match

Published by Christine

Yesterday, Aston Villa won their football match against Manchester City 1-0. Darren Bent scored the only goal of the game 18 minutes in, which impressed the crowd, who were skeptical about his club record breaking transfer fee. Villa played the first half well, but turned defensive midway through, allowing City to dominate the second half. Despite many, many shots on target, City couldn't turn the game in their favour.

And I was there to see it all!

Don't panic. We're not turning Sidepodcast into a football show. As part of my writing course, I was tasked with reporting on an event I attended, and as part of my life list, I have tasked myself with watching ten sports live in action. Combining these two items saw Mr C and I head to Villa Park in Birmingham to watch my very first Premier League football match. My very first football experience at all, if you don't count school playground games.

Villa and City get stuck in
Villa and City get stuck inCredit: Sidepodcast

With no real knowledge of what to expect, aside from some useful thoughts in the comments, I approached it as I had my first F1 race. A camera, a notepad and pen clutched in one hand, and two tickets grasped in the other. In some ways, the two events are very similar, but in others they are vastly different.

A game of two halves

I only have experience of the Silverstone Grand Prix, and the first thing that struck me was access. It turns out that Villa Park is one of the harder venues to get to, but signposts were almost non-existant, parking information was utterly unhelpful, and the roads around the stadium are not the easiest to navigate. Silverstone has often been regarded as irritating to get to, smack in the middle of the countryside as it is. I would take that over trawling the back end of Birmingham any day, though. I was almost praising Bernie as I searched for someone to park, that's how bad it was.

The weather was one thing that was noticeably the same. Both times I have been to Silverstone for races has seen me sitting in a grandstand with chattering teeth, and Villa Park was no different. I wasn't expecting it to be, given that we were heading to a 5:30pm kick-off in the middle of January. The only bonus with a football stadium is that the grandstands enclose the pitch to ward off any nasty gusts of wind. At a race, you are at the mercy of quite a lot of the weather.

Villa's goalkeeper watches the action
Villa's goalkeeper watches the actionCredit: Sidepodcast

Talking of seats, we found ourselves in an excellent spot, made even better by the fact that there doesn't have to be any catch-fencing. You don't need a super-duper fancy camera to snap pictures because the players are not travelling at 200mph, and your view is not obstructed by a million safety features. That said, I did flinch every time the ball came anywhere near where I was sitting. I would have appreciated a nice bit of fencing had it come flying directly at my head.

As mentioned, we did have good seats, but even if you didn't, the nice thing about football is that you can see everything (give or take the constant stream of people coming and going), and you don't need to buy any extra equipment to go along with it. You may want to have a radio commentary if you were going the extra mile, but there's no need for a Kangaroo TV because you can only see one corner of the action.

It's probably not fair to compare the price of football to the price of Formula One, but it's a similar amount of entertainment - about two hours worth - and the difference between the two is amazing. Tickets for our grandstand at Villa Park were anywhere between £20 and £40, whilst the cheapest Silverstone access (with no seat) will set you back £129. It's an astounding difference, and probably wouldn't be a tough choice for anyone who's a fan of both F1 and football. Three top-of-the-range football days for one basic GP outing.

More where that came from

That's not to say F1 is all bad. I really enjoyed myself at the 'footie', as I believe it is known, but it's not something I would choose to do on a regular basis. The atmosphere is incredibly different, and I prefer the motorsport positivity to the football angst. I'll talk more about my personal experience at the match over on my own blog. Meanwhile, for the purposes of writing a report on the sport, I found it quite hard to get the words flowing, but that is likely to do with a lack of knowledge rather than anything bad about football.

I did quite a lot of research before we left, including learning all about Darren Bent and his controversial price tag. That meant I could explain to Mr C why it was significant he was the one who scored the goal. It was fun knowing something, at least. There's plenty more to learn, and you never know, maybe I will.

All content in the series My Not-Quite Mid-Life Crisis