The big takeaway is that we need to daal with our anger | Football

Referee Anthony Taylor is confronted by Forest’s Chris Wood and Callum Hudson-Odoi (Picture: Getty)

The last time I felt angry it was a complete debacle. I was hungry (this is important), and it was fairly late, so instead of trying to scrap together my go-to on these occasions ‘Hangover Pasta’ we went for a curry through a popular delivery app.

I’m a regular with this particular vendor so knew the timings we were working with – we’d have it before things became desperate – and it’s so delicious that the whole evening will be made.

But today, something was off. The arrival time stretched out long beyond its window. Then, ‘the rider needs help finding your address’. I was holding it together, hunting snacks, when the doorbell finally rang. Down I ran – the guy reached out (weirdly, the app showed he would be female), the bag of goods sagged awkwardly, but he thrust it at me with urgency – just as it split. The daal spun out of soggy cardboard, spattered across the front door, reaching the steps, before landing on my carpet.

It looked like nothing so much as a steaming turd with a curry box hat perched on top. ‘I’ll get another,’ said the guy, and fled.

It was as I tried to funnel the much-mourned lentily goodness into a binbag and set to work with the carpet cleaner that the rage arrived. My order was registering on the app as delivered, the guy was never coming back, and I knew there was nothing I’d ever be able to do about it.

Sure, weeks from now, I’d be involved in a chain of support messages that appreciate me bringing this to their attention.

But the outcome remains the same: people arriving at my house will assume a disgruntled reader has treated me to the old s***-through-the-letterbox review, and I’m still hungry.

Spurs fans saw Dejan Kulusevski's penalty shout turned down

Spurs fans saw Dejan Kulusevski’s penalty shout turned down (Picture: Getty)

All of which is to say, I understand how Nottingham Forest fans feel. They’ve been wronged and there is nothing they can do about it. It’s why when the ‘NFFC will now consider its options’ statement went out at the end of the 2-0 defeat at Everton, many felt so exhilarated.

Finally someone understands what we’ve been through and – in the absence of cosmic justice – there might be some practical way of righting the destabilising experience of seeing your team beaten in that manner.

The teacher has entered the playground and taken the ball away (if the teacher in this case is some legal arbiter implied by the tweet, and the ball is members of PGMOL having responsibility for making judgement calls in football).

The purpose of anger, psychologists tell us, is information. If we can identify precisely when we feel angry – as opposed to frustrated, say, or irritated, tired or indeed hangry – it provides useful context to interpret the world around us. It can also be the energising force we need, when wronged, to do something about it.

So anger is a useful emotion. But the negative outcomes of regular, extreme anger are clear. Among them: stomach cramps, memory decline and a greater susceptibility to heart attacks.

If we can take the anger and use it to get on a course to become a really good referee or sustain ourselves through a delivery company’s appeals process, it’s done its job. But sometimes the wrong occurs, as it will do in football most weeks – Kulu so deserved that pen for Spurs – and there really is nothing you can do.

And making the decision to do nothing is tricky but it is powerful. Choosing not to let anger linger, or seep out onto the important people in life, that’s the victory. Particularly since physical responses like shouting and screaming raise cortisol and adrenaline levels (the ones involved in our fight-or-flight response), so rather than helping to blow off steam, they do the opposite.

And if doing nothing proves too hard, then it’s time to get out of the spaces that promote and feed our anger.

That could mean missing a few games, or avoiding that particular subreddit. Exercise is a great distraction too. Your heart, and everyone else’s, will thank you.


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