I tried so hard to like it as a kid, mainly in a fumbled attempt to fit in, and find a way to bond with my dad. I went to Watford and Wealdstone matches with my him, including the 1984 FA Cup Final between Watford and Everton. Alas, my favourite part of that was a display of remote controlled planes at half time.
Of course, I collected the Panini stickers - I especially liked the shiny ones - and even tried playing football, but was never much good at it. It was a choice of either wearing glasses (which I soon stopped after they got knocked off my face), or being forced to play half-blind.
Generally, I was always far happier drawing, or playing Dungeons & Dragons, than having to suffer the ritual indignation and abuse that would come from fumbling the ball, or letting in a goal. Simply, football never appealed to my over-active imagination. There were never enough aliens or robots involved, and it was rarely funny.
Inevitably, I'd be picked last at school when they were choosing teams, and then shoved into defence where it was felt I posed the least risk to their insignificant victory.
Seemingly, it didn't matter to the other players on my team that I was crap, because a) I couldn't see, and b) My mind was generally on other things that I thought were more important, and c) I have no physical co-ordination; if I did something rubbish, it was the most terrible transgression.
At school, it felt to me that sporting ability was valued above everything else, and teachers would tolerate name-calling (and sometimes join in) so long as it was in that environment.
After I left school I went to work for the bookmakers Ladbrokes as a graphic designer, creating visuals for the in-store TV screens (and, later, the company's teletext service). I moved on to co-editing the Ladbrokes teletext pages, and helped to edit the betting info that was pumped into shops. Indirectly, that's how I ended up at Teletext.
A more sport-heavy environment you'd be hard pressed to find than Ladbrokes. Indeed, one of my co-workers was an eccentric fellow called Angus Loughran, who later went on to find a degree of fame as Statto in Baddiel and Skinner's Fantasy Football series.
Statto was not a character; that really was how Angus was (sans dressing gown). His job was to broadcast on Ladbrokes' in-store radio, and he had a strange habit of weaving his head from side to side whenever he was on the mic. I also remember him once being so startled by the bang of a Christmas cracker that he fell off a chair. Plus, he had about half a dozen completely contradictory stories about who his father was ("a monk" was my favourite).
Working there did slightly rehabilitate my relationship with football, and sport in general. Unlike at school, I was valued for my artistic abilities to the degree that it didn't matter to them whether I was interested in sport or not. That said, I was genuinely impressed when Trevor Brooking - I remembered him as a man from my Panini albums - came into the office one day (though he was a bit stand-offish with me in the lift on the way out, which I've never forgotten).
Probably the highlight of my time at Ladbrokes was animating a Monty Python-esque foot, which appeared in the first episode of Michael Palin's Around The World in 80 Days (he visited a Ladbrokes shop to get odds on his chances of success).
John Motson was another regular visitor to the office, as was Channel 4 racing commentator Derek "Thommo" Thompson. A lovely man, but he had a habit of asking me how I was, before saying "Good, good" without bothering to wait for a reply. Eventually, I started testing this with various fictious ailments.
"How are you today, Paul?"
"Not great today, Thommo. I've got septicaemia."
After Ladbrokes I worked on the scoreboard at Wembley Stadium, creating graphics and animations, and quite literally being the person who typed the scores that were displayed on the big screen.
Oh, and also occasionally making my way across a rickety gangplank - a hundred metres or so above the ground - to change broken bulbs. I don't know if it was the Universe's sense of irony that led me there, but football was following me around like a sneering trout.
Amusingly, the scoreboard "control booth" at Wembley was right at the back of the stands, meaning that we didn't have a clear view of the pitch. We knew there had been a goal only when we heard the crowd go nuts, but then had to wait a few seconds for the score to appear on whichever TV channel was broadcasting the match, and update the scoreboard accordingly. Sometimes a finger slipped and we got it wrong. On at least one occasion an erroneous score ended up in the papers.
Another time, I received a request from the control room to put up a message welcoming "Guy Sports" to the Stadium. I realised I'd misheard when the 30ft-high greeting "Wembley welcomes Guy Sports" appeared on live the TV over the shoulder of Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys, and the control room hotline started ringing off the hook.
I had two colleagues who worked with me on the scoreboard; an Irish chap called Gerard Crowley, who has since gone on to become one of that country's top satirical cartoonists, and a middle-aged fellow called Dennis. Oddly, neither of them had any obvious interest in football either.
Indeed, Dennis - we speculated with, I should add, only circumstantial evidence - might've been more interested in murdering people. He kept a large, retractable, metal spike on his desk, and though we never saw him use it, the desktop was covered in deep gouges from where he'd clearly attacked it when he was alone in the office. Gerard and I had a theory that we'd come to work one day and Dennis would be waiting for us behind the door, spike in hand.
We also had an issue with rainwater dripping into the control room through a large crack in the wall. Upon my arrival one day, Dennis told me proudly that he'd fixed the problem; he'd used up every bottle of Tippex we had in our cupboards to fill in the crack. Suffice to say, the second it rained the Tippex washed out.
Dennis also had a habit of resigning due to some slight from somebody - but would never reveal who or what had upset him - and changing his mind at the last minute."It had all been sorted, but I don't want to talk about it" became his catchphrase.
At one of his many leaving parties, attended as they were by the former roadies who worked (and possibly lived) in the rafters of Wembley Stadium and Arena, like denim-clad phantoms, Dennis was presented by one of them with a massive, clear plastic bag full of raw meat. Somewhat embarrassed by this gift, he hid it self-consciously beneath his chair, and never mentioned again.
Another time, he took a week off work, because - we learned subsequently - he'd been in court over the death of a man who'd fallen into a canal at the bottom of his mother's garden (who, of course, Dennis lived with).
Apparently, while trying to fish the man out of the canal, a metal cigarette case Dennis had in his top pocket (we never saw him smoke) "banged the man on the chest, and must have caused a heart attack"...
Technically - following the Python foot - my scores were the second things I ever had broadcast on proper TV, but as we also had to man the scoreboard for concerts, I felt a real sense of pride that a graphic I'd created of the late Freddie Mercury was the first image shown on the BBC's coverage of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness.
One of my most cherished memories happened that day, when I took to the stands at the back of the stadium, directly opposite the stage, to eat a sandwich (on the days we worked, the management provided us with a packed lunch; excellently, as there were three of us who worked on the scoreboard, but only one of us was required on concert days, I got three lunches).
I noticed that the stadium was unusually quiet - usually on gig days it was bustling with activity before the public was allowed in - only for David Bowie and Queen to wander on stage and perform Under Pressure, one of my favourite songs of all time.
I later found out from a Bowie biography that he'd requested the stadium be cleared for his soundcheck. And it had been, except for me. I'd had the stadium to myself for a private gig.
It was from Wembley that I ended up at Teletext, and though it wasn't all about sport, I nevertheless once again found myself creating football graphics for the company's sports pages. And, of course, reviewing football video games.
I'd never played Sensible Soccer or Kick-Off - though I had dabbled in a pirate copy of Match Day on the Spectrum - but it was EA's first FIFA International Soccer, the isometric one, which taught me I didn't need to like football to enjoy football video games.
Heck, I even reviewed Actua Soccer during one my disastrous Games Master appearances - memorably criticising its "constantly rotating Mode 7 pitch" like I had a gun to my head - despite not having had the chance to actually play it beforehand. Indeed, I believe I'd only been given the opportunity to watch "Jaz" Rignall giving it a go.
It was a couple of years after I left Wembley - by which time I'd been working on Digitiser for almost three years - that I actually engaged with football, genuinely, for the first time.
I got caught up in the euphoria around Euro '96, when England got through to the semi-finals. Like everyone else, I bought Three Lions, and I cheered, and was gutted when they didn't make the final. For a time, Championship Manager 96/97 was even our in-office game of choice (admittedly, mainly because we could change the names of the players; the main one I remember is a goalkeeper called "Stink Penis").
Alas, my enthusiasm ended with the tournament, and despite keeping half an eye on subsequent World Cups, that spark has never ignited into anything more. I've gone back to feeling apart from the rest of society whenever there's a big tournament on, and vaguely being irritated by the disruption it causes to my life (I mean, we're not getting Ant Man & The Wasp until a month after America because of the bloody World Cup).
Somehow amid all this, I've absorbed just enough information to get through a conversation with a foreign waiter or taxi driver, though my cousins have long since learned that trying to engage with me about football is somewhat depressing and awkward for everyone involved. That never stopped my dad asking me every Saturday - at least, until he ended his weekly pilgrimage due to being old - whether I wanted to go with him to see Watford play.
I think somewhere in there, I grew to resent football. That I was incapable of playing it - through the sheer fact I couldn't see very well - and my failed attempts to actually enjoy watching or talking about it, left me with an underlying sense that there was something wrong with me. Especially growing up in the 70s and 80s, back when football was very much linked with masculinity, and being considered "ordinary".
Admittedly, most of my mates were no more interested in it than I was, but that further reinforced a sense of social isolation... not least because the boys who did like football, and were good at it, were either the cool boys or the bullies or the ones who were sort of innocuous enough to never become a target for the bullies; the "normal" boys.
Anyway. This is a rambling, roundabout, way of saying that I've stayed aware of this year's World Cup, but despite thinking I'd be engaged with it, thus far... I've failed. Once again. I actually had a filling fall out while endeavouring to watch the last England match, which feels like a literal kick in the teeth.
Even tonight's big England vs Croatia game holds little appeal, despite being married to somebody who's half-Croatian. If anything, my mostly-foreign wife is even less interested it in than I am.
I'd wish England luck, but - honestly - I couldn't care less. Football's stupid.