Tuesday, 12 June 2012

My little glory hunter

I’ve been asked some difficult questions during parenthood:

“Where’s my Mommy?”

“What’s a lesbian?”


“What’s three hundred and sixty two point three five squillion divided by the total number of Skylanders I own?”

Stuff like that.

But yesterday I got another good one.

“Dad, can I support France and Manchester City?”

It was during our discussions on why England’s first match at Euro 2012 should take precedence over CBBC or some other children’s TV nonsense.

Based on information that France had not lost in their last 21 games prior to these European championships, and that Manchester City were the winners of last year’s Premier League, my son put in his request.

We spoke about nationality, explaining how club and country works, I probably went too far explaining that as an EU national he wouldn’t need a work permit to play for Barcelona.  But still, he (part) understands now.

I wasn’t trying to dissuade him from supporting France, more so pointing out that people’s sense of nationality often dictates their preferred sporting nation.

But choosing a football club to support was a little trickier.

Or perhaps could have been.

I enjoy watching football.  Although I’ve gone off it a bit recently, The Champions League, elite clubs of European football in competition with one another, certainly provides football of the highest possible technical calibre, great viewing at times, but is that all that supporting a club is about?

I’ve been following the same football team for twenty or so years.  They’ve spent the whole of their 100+ years outside of this country’s top division, The Premiership, have never played at Wembley (the venue for most finals in England), and their trophy cabinet is not even envied by IKEA furniture designers.

But they are my team.

I started following them as I could walk to the club from my parents’ house, and I was turned off by school chums who ‘supported’ big teams, some from afar, constantly bickering for bragging rights, without ever going to actually watch games.

I got something out of actually going.

My son’s mother and I differed in teams we supported, she supported another local team, but one historically (as well as currently) better supported and more successful than mine.

We bickered a bit about who our son would support, all even appearing in a local newspaper about his possible future dilemma.

But, like then, I’m not really thinking of trying to force my boy to support anyone.

After all as a youngster, I can recall having different football strips based on their appearance, and price at our local sports shop.

I can remember having an old Nottingham Forest strip, a Hibernian one, Aston Villa, Tottenham as well as few international ones, and foreign teams who’d had English players with them.  Lineker at Barca being one, and Waddle at Marseille was another.  I loved Chris Waddle as a child.  He was my hero, seemingly lazy yet wonderfully gifted.

And don’t get me talking about the recently passed Brazilian legend of Socrates.

I love lazy buggers me.

So I guess I’m typing it’s okay for my boy to ‘support’ the soulless play things of the world’s richest playboys and chicken magnates.

For now, anyway.

I shall continue in my quest to show him what real football is about.  And to get him to inch my team further the growing list of clubs he supports.

They could do with him.