You have supported the same team since you were 10 years old. Team posters used to adorned the walls of your bedroom, the clubs crest featured prominently on your duvet cover, you always pretended to be the teams star playing during the kick about with your friends, and your team’s players were the first thing you looked for when you got your hands on a new packet of Panini stickers.
You can’t remember why you ever became a fan – perhaps it was because they were the team that were winning everything at the time, or you liked the color of the kit, maybe your family had always supported them, or they just happened to be your local team (my local team was Reading….enough said). But whatever the reason, you had a team and you loved everything about them.
Then you grew up, and suddenly the team you knew and loved were not the team they once were. They had stopped winning things, they began to make bizarre signings, the team was beginning to fall apart and when you watched them play, they were, quite frankly just truly awful. Gone was the fluid movement and open play, and in came the long ball game, and endless crosses. But you decided to preserve with your team for a while, after all isn’t it meant to be the ultimate sin to ‘switch teams’?
Sadly after a year of struggling to muster the enthusiasm to watch your team play, you know you have to make the move. Of course you can’t tell anyone, just make the change gradually and hope nobody notices (well for a while anyway). Here’s how –
- put away your team shirt. When your friends ask where your shirt is, just tell them it’s in the laundry.
- when you are invited to the pub to ‘watch the match’ you make some pathetic excuse – such as you have to babysit your friends’ gerbil.
- avoid all discussions on the fortunes of your team and watch Match of the Day on your own.
Then and only then, after a couple of years can you start talking about your new team, you can bring out your new team shirt, you can join in the office football discussion on a Monday morning, and you can once again start to comment on games and cheer out loud when your old team misses a penalty or is suffering life outside of the top four. By that point you just hope everyone has forgotten about your initial allegiance and just take it for granted that you have always been a Manchester United fan.
How do I know all this, because yes, I have switched teams’. Yes, I stopped supporting my beloved Liverpool in the late 1990’s and switched to Manchester United. Have I ever admitted what I have done in public – yes. Was I subject to scorn and ridicule – yes. Even my husband, who is an American and dislikes football, understands I have done a bad thing, and likes to remind me constantly of my actions (and no, he doesn’t even have a team but he does know who Mesut Özil is).
So is it ever okay to start supporting a new team – I would say yes, but be prepared to lay low for a while.