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Living Without Football - The Leeds Fan

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Keith Boseley-Yemm, a lifelong Leeds Utd fan, thought there was no way he could live without football. But when a major UK Television series asked him to put that to the test, Keith, with the kind of defiant spirit that has characterised his teams' recent successes took up the challenge.
Keith, 35, practically grew up in the famous Kop end of Leeds United's Elland Road stadium. He has travelled the length and breadth of Britain following his side over the last 20 years.
Dream season
Through all these years Keith cannot recall a season as important and exciting as the one that has just finished (2000/01 season). They have played AC Milan of Italy and Barcelona, Deportivo La Coruna, Real Madrid, and Valencia, all from Spain, as well as having a very strong domestic campaign.
As Keith fondly recalls "all these great games in one season, it's like all my dreams coming true at once."
So with a season like that in progress the last thing you would imagine a die-hard fan like Keith would do is voluntarily live without football for two weeks. But that's exactly what Keith did.
No football!
Channel 4, one of the UK's major terrestrial TV channels, approached Keith to see if he would take part in their "Can you live without…?" series. A series that each week profiles a person or family getting by without something that they consider essential to their lifestyle for a whole two-weeks. Other programmes have shown people trying to live without their car, their TV, and even their spouse.
Keith thought he had the toughest task of them all, "by missing football I missed most of the above things. I was cut off from everything else. No radio, TV, newspapers, no mobile phone, no friends, no family rang me, nobody visited me at the house. They would be too worried about slipping up and accidentally telling me a football score. I couldn't even really watch TV because of news programmes and football scores being put up during other sports like the rugby."
To Keith it simply seemed that by missing the football his life was put on hold. He had very little contact with friends and family because they had to be careful not to accidentally tell him some football news. He even had to make sure the sports pages were torn out of his newspapers.
Keith is also reliant on football for giving him the emotional extremes. Though he feels lucky to support a big successful club like Leeds he still admits "Football is such a hard thing to support. It's depressing. One minute you're jumping in the air and the next moment you're crying. No other sport gives you that. They have that feeling but not that emotion." So when the two weeks were up it was an emotional reunion.
After missing football for two weeks watching it again was almost too much for Keith to bear. He recalls watching the second leg against Deportivo La Coruna of Spain, "I was physically feeling sick when Deportivo were up two-nil. I'd not seen football for two weeks. I was so excited, so emotionally built up. I was laughing, then crying. Deportivo missed a penalty. Phew! Then we missed an easy chance. No! I was feeling sick and dizzy."
Despite the physical effect that football withdrawal had on Keith his experience of going without football has helped him put the game in context.
"Although football means the world to me, with five children, you have to draw the line somewhere - food and clothes are more important than football," but then he adds, "Well they're not, but you know what I mean."
We do know what he means. Of course other things in life are more important than football. But it would seem like a strange world without it.
We asked him would he live without football for two weeks ever again,
"No way, I would never go through that again. It's been emotional"



Jon Wilkinson, August 2001

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