EIGHT definitions of the Beautiful Game...

l Football is... 90 minutes of jangling nerves at Rodney Parade as Newport County drew 1-1 with Mansfield Town in the League Two play-off semi-final first leg.

l Football is... leaving Pride Park last Saturday, listening to two young men in front of me, shoulders slumped dejectedly, after Derby County lost 0-1 to Leeds in the Championship play-off semi-final first leg.

Dissecting the shortcomings of Derby’s young team, one declared: “Hope springs eternal though.”

“Yeah, but it’s hope that kills you,” his mate fired back, clearly ready to drown his sorrows in a city centre bar.

I was tempted to join them, but after Derby’s performance, it wasn’t a case of my glass being half-full. I didn’t even have a glass.

l Football is.. sitting alone last Sunday evening watching the thrilling Mansfield Town v Newport County second leg, wondering how County hadn’t wrapped it up by half-time, and fending off fatalism as the penalty shoot-out approached.

l Football is... texting my son – whose data had expired on a train to Southampton – after each penalty, hands shaking and heart pounding as I tapped out the final, immortal message: “Dolan 5-4 WEMBLEY!!!!!”

l Football is... being so downhearted I opted for a concert in Bristol instead of watching the Leeds v Derby second leg on television, and switching off my phone so as not to be tempted to check the score while the guitars chimed.

l Football is... the awful split second, as the first message to pop up on switching back on informed me that Derby defender Scott Malone had been sent off.

But this proved to be merely a glitch in the fabric of mobile app time. For the next message to appear declared simply, “Leeds United 2 Derby County 4 (3-4 agg)”.

l Football is... standing in the middle of an emptying music club floor, a smile of disbelief spreading across my face, as the following thought formed: “Damn, I didn’t even record it.”

l Football is... preparing for a very expensive Bank Holiday weekend with the two Countys in my life, Derby and Newport.

Bring it on.