MY da' was never interested in sport, never a fitba’ man. I’ve heard people say he hated it but to me it was more of a relaxed, but deep disinterest.

He looked at fitba' on the television, for example, with all the fervour of a Visigoth watching the world crocheting championships. He was fated, perhaps cursed, to be the only son of a footballer fanatic (a very good footballer and a devoted supporter) and the father to three sons who were immediately and irredeemably besotted by the game.

He made an occasional effort to join our kickabouts but resembled nothing less than an early precursor to John Cleese and his silly walk. He once went to watch my brother play football but Niall took pity on him when taking a shy, whispering out the side of his mouth that he could go home if he so wanted. My dad scuttled off, taking advantage of a free pass to head to his garden or his books.

I have been thinking of my dad a lot of late. I have become a granda and the phizzog peering at me from the shaving mirror testifies to this truth and to my resemblance to pater in his later years.

He believed once that his sons would grow out of football – in the manner, perhaps, of disdaining to play hide and seek or hanging up one’s yoyo – but it has remained a passion, in varying degrees, for all of us. I am the most besotted though brother No.2 has contracted a virulent form of the disease and is now a season ticket holder at Ross County.

I have watched football in several different countries and continents. It still has the capacity to move me, intrigue me, even entertain me.

There are those who claim it is all about business now, it is tainted irrevocably by money. But this fan cannot recall when that was not the case. It is only a matter of extent now and where the money is largely coming to rest. If one doubts this assertion, ask footballers of a certain age. The money then went straight from the turnstile into the pockets of the board. Now it runs strongly downhill into a dam formed by players’ pockets and that of their representatives.

But it is largely the same deal as always for the fan: give up chunks of your time, imperil your emotional stability, and hand over your cash. In return, you will be given a seat or a place to stand.

I never had much of a problem with this when I was a paying punter in the last century. I still don’t as a semi-retired hack who pays to go into games.

This is the way it is and it ain’t changing soon. My love of the game remains intact despite the dunts inflicted by scandal and conspicuous greed. In this, I believe, football is just the world at play. Wherever there is a lot of money, there will be those who plunder it mercilessly and unscrupulously. It has been known to happen in banking.

I also do not resent the players’ wages. They are the performers who conspire to make entertainment. They are the few who have beaten all the odds. Many of the top ones still earn less than many a hedge fund manager. The players, too, can be cast aside suddenly, whether through injury or to that unforgiving master called time.

There is the odd time when I succumb to naivety and the game can irritate me with its propensity to be self-serving, with its personalities indulging in the selfish, but I acknowledge this as reality if not quite accept it unconditionally.

These concerns drift away in the passion of a match. These issues are rendered temporarily meaningless amid the excitement or even amid the boring.

The match is all. I have been lucky – professionally and personally – to have watched football in different cultures. The languages have been different but the message has been the same: football means something.

The following may sound pretentious, probably because it is. But it is possible to know something of a culture by being part of its football crowd. This year I have witnessed the stoicism and then explosive power of the Basque in San Mames, the self-deprecation of the Jag at Firhill, the extraordinary power of an Anfield crowd shortly after a commemoration to the 96 and the bedlam of a Celtic Park that roars in celebration of the Champions League, knowing that the gaudy competitions holds a precious memory of a glorious past. I have been elsewhere, too, where small crowds carry a substantial message.

It has all been to my entertainment and to my appreciation of a blessed life. I now no longer have to write about football “on the whistle”, an activity so stressful that people have been known to give it up and go into lion taming. I can watch, wander away and then write something later or not at all.

I wonder what my dad would have made of all this. I never asked, fearing the reply. But I am grateful to have had the opportunity to write about something I love. It has been fun.

Though, I suspect my dad in his withering style might point out that the pleasure has been all mine.