Much like Bigfoot, The Yeti and President Donald Trump’s sanity there have long been questions raised over the existence of so-called ‘man flu’. There were reports as recently as last year suggesting that the male species really does suffer worse from the cold virus due to having weaker immune systems than our female counter-parts; whilst other researchers will scoff loudly at such a notion. Having never spent a day in the female form and therefore having no knowledge of how women work – as my romantic history will testify – I am not going to debate the prowess of man flu; rather I am here to state that having a cold can make going to the football in February a bit of a miserable experience.
I can provide no evidence linking the quality of football on show at Celtic Park last night to my cold, but then I feel that in 2017, the year of the alternative fact, I shouldn’t need to. Nor should it be suggested that the seven beers prior to kick-off were a contributing factor, or that the inordinate amount of cheese consumed from a platter at the Hippo Taproom created such a fuzzy high in my head that nothing could possibly be as it seemed. This was all the doing of my cold.
It’s not that Celtic played particularly badly. On the contrary, they were professional, controlled and in parts dominant. But Aberdeen were stuffy, congested and blocked off any space to the extent that this became quite a chore to shiver through.
The first-half felt as though it passed with me sneezing more frequently than there were shots at goal, which is not all that remarkable a statement considering that there was only one attempt on target – from Aberdeen – and that I was sneezing a lot. My nose was running more threateningly than James Forrest, whilst Jozo Simunovic seemed to cough up possession to a red shirt almost every time he tried to play from the back.
It isn’t often at Celtic Park this season that you’ll see this team so drowsy for 90 minutes, and nor was it the case here when ten minutes into the second-half the away defence fell apart like a wet paper tissue as a Scott Sinclair free-kick found Dedryk Boyata’s majestic head and the ball whistled into the back of the net. Suddenly the Celtic virus threatened to riddle Aberdeen’s system as they streamed forward at every opportunity, attacking their sinuses and their goal with swift passing exchanges. The Dons resisted, though, and one goal was enough.
The stadium lit up with thousands of smartphone torches and the sound of jubilation rang out as news filtered through from Edinburgh that Rangers were suffering a humiliation at the hands of Hearts and their Football Manager, yet I couldn’t muster the energy for much more than a blow of my nose – again – and I slumped back in my cold plastic seat as drops of rain began to fall from the dark Glasgow sky like an overproduction of mucus spills from a nostril. Great.
I can’t say whether ‘man flu’ exists and the cold affects men more prominently than it does women, but I can say for sure that it doesn’t make attending the football any more fun.