FootballCynic took himself to a PSF yesterday. A PSF used to be called PFM, a public friendly match. Nowadays, they are called PSF, standing for pre-season friendly rather than its rarer cousin, a MSF (a mid-season friendly). A post-season friendly is also presumably called a PSF, which is a bit confusing really.
Anyhow, that’s enough rambling. It was one of those typical PSFs where the home side is a non-league team that is ready to face a nearby professional club. The teams that FootballCynic saw are immaterial because most of these games go the same way.
The professional team knocks the ball about while the non-league scampers around trying to get a touch of the ball. The score is usually 5-0, although, sometimes, it can get silly when 8-0 or even 10-0 results are found. The professional team will usually change the whole team at half time, something that didn’t happen in PFM days. In PFM days, two or three unknowns might come on for the last ten minutes wearing unnumbered shirts, but now it’s a new team at half time.
There aren’t any crunching tackles. The professional team doesn’t need to make any lunging tackles – indeed, it would seem totally wrong if they did. The non-league team can’t get near enough to their mega-rich opponents to make that crunching tackle. Occasionally, a lumbering non-league defender will be too slow to change direction and commit a trip or body check as a nippy professional striker tries to turn quickly, but it’s generally harmless and, if it’s not, there’s a lot of complaining from the flattened nippy striker.
Of course, there is one unwritten rule – the non-league team must not score and, if they do score, it must be a late consolation goal. In the unlikely event of the non-league team scoring first, everything changes. Crunching tackles on weedy non-league wingers are then allowed until a healthy winning margin is in place.
PSFs are not like their predecessors, the PFM, in one other way. You no longer see a programme with A.N.Other in it. Who was this A.N.Other that featured for many teams yet never played in a league game? FootballCynic knows for a fact that he had a brother also called A.N.Other, a silly birth-time mistake by Mr & Mrs Other, as he can recall his team fielding both of them in the same game.
The game yesterday was a typical, modern PSF - a comfortable margin for the professional team, generous applause for the plucky non-League team from the outnumbering visiting supporters and no crunching tackles. The visiting fans warmed up for the season ahead with one chorus “We forgot that you were here”, but it was mild taunting by league standards.
Was it enjoyable? Of course, it was. It was a fine sunny day, the beer wasn’t undrinkable and supplied by the highest bidder and the pies looked edible. Home and visiting supporters shared jokes. Do we need anything other than PSFs?