In the early hours of Thursday morning, the mighty Socceroos will be facing off against the presumably mighty team from Denmark, a fictional country from the Chronicles of Narnia series. What we are about to witness is an athletic spectacle that will test the fitness and resolve of all participants. I am speaking about the battle to stay awake long enough to actually watch the game.
We must first set out parameters. This is not about staying awake until 2am. That will only get you to the kick-off. You wouldn’t sprint to the starting line of the City to Surf. Or maybe you would. I don’t know how that event works and I do not care to know. We have 90 minutes plus extra time to cover here, not to mention the dangerous half-time break that has left many a passionate fan snoozing on the couch to the soothing timbre of Craig Foster’s voice.
Beyond the physical, there’s the pure emotional rollercoaster we’re going to all embark on together. The highs, the lows, and the extended periods of flat coasting. These are the dangerous times. There are few sports better designed than football to lull a sleepy viewer into rest. Tennis and sheep-tossing are the only sports I can conjure, and I think I made one of those up (tennis).
This is all about preparation. Thankfully, I have been training for this moment for an entire year by installing in my home a newborn child, who would helpfully scream in the middle of the night to get me ready for the Cup. Not everyone has this kind of dedication to the cause but luckily there are some tricks to get you over the line.
There are two schools of thought for watching an early-morning game. Do you power on through the night or do you set the alarm early? This is a question with two important factors for you to consider deep down in your heart: how badly do you want to watch the game, and do you want to be sober while doing it?
You can set an alarm for 2am and nestle in to sleep, but we both know that you’re lying to yourself. There is no way you are getting out of that bed when the alarm goes off. That’s the same kind of wishful thinking alarm setting that people do when they’ve convinced themselves they’re going to get into jogging. You’re not, you know you’re not, you just feel like a good person when you set the alarm.
Staying up all night sounds like the more fun option. It feels like a party. Plus, what’s more fun than absolutely writing off a day before it has even begun? There’s a beautiful kind of freedom in knowing before the sun rises that you absolutely will not be in a position to operate heavy machinery today. The risk of this is peaking too early. You go very hard through the night, have a great time, and then settle in for a long snooze around the 10-minute mark of the first half.
Personally, I’ve found that nothing keeps you awake quite like stone cold sobriety spiced up with abject dread. Read enough about the match that you’ll truly fear you’re about to ruin your night just to watch a 3-0 loss. If that starts to waver, remember some of the mistakes you’ve made in your life, times you hurt others, thoughtless and awkward things you’ve said at parties. That way, you can relax and have a good stare at the ceiling as the horrible guilt inside you helps you glide all the way to kick-off.
Of course, if all of this fails and you sleep through the entire match, just tell your colleagues that you were boycotting the game for moral reasons. That way you get to keep the moral high ground while also seeming tedious enough that no one will ask you a follow-up question.
Anyway, let me know how the game goes. I’ll be sleeping, for moral reasons.
• James Colley is a comedian and head writer for Gruen and Question Everything