There's only four teams involved in football's top honours these days, so what's it like to win silverware every season? This is the blog of one football fan who decided to, fully and unconditionally, do the unthinkable and change the football team he supported to spend one season at the top... AND NOW HE'S DOING A SIMILAR THING FOR EURO 2008 WITH A MATE BECAUSE THE SEASON'S FINISHED AND THEY'RE BOTH BORED

Archives for: August 2007

Choosing one of The Big Four

25/08/07

Now I’ve told my closest footballing freind what I’m up to, it’s time to choose a new team. Thought I’d wait until the season started in case one of them was much shitter than the other three, but, as expected, nothing’s changed - except that Man City won…

For the first time, I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. There are no external pressures on choosing my team this time – no pressures from my place of birth; dad’s chosen team; first team I ever saw on telly; or just being a very young and naive age. Come on, how many of you reading this chose to support your team without some sort of external influence that, as a child, you don’t question. If someone told you, you had to live in the place where you were born and you could never leave - because you were born there - you’d tell them to fuck off, right? I chose my Middling Championship Club based on where I was born. A fair enough reason, but we’re all nomads these days – staying loyal to where you come from has never meant less.

I could give you a run down of the clubs, but we all know what they’re about. So, my choices are:

Arsenal:

Liverpool:

Man Utd:

Chelsea:

With no real preference for any of the The Big Four, I’ve set out to see which of the clubs wanted me the most – after all, the marketing people behind these huge entertainment businesses are the best in the world at selling their clubs to fans. It seems they’ve conquered large parts of eastern Asia already, so how would they value gaining potential revenue from me?

First step? Email each club, I thought… Get in there and ask the clubs straight, in what I believe the tabloids call a ‘Come and get me plea’.

Here’s the email I sent…

Dear [club],

I have decided to support one of the top four teams in the Premier League, but I’m not sure which one. Can you help me decide?

I would be very grateful if you could get back to me with a few details to convince me that YOU are the club I want to spend the rest of my life supporting.

I very much look forward to being a fan.

Best regards

I’m coming out…

18/08/07

So I’ve been watching the Middling Championship Club I support with a mate of mine for a few years now. There’s been a few up and downs (literally), but this is the biggest shock for both of us…

“What? I don’t understand? Why? How long have you felt like this?”

9pm in the pub and ‘the bomb’ has been dropped. ‘Dave’ and I (for the purposes of this blog, we’ll call him Dave – even though his real name’s Gary) have been supporting the same under-achieving Championship team all our lives, and have been watching their state of flux together for a few years. But change is afoot…

It was around ooh, the end of last season when I came to the conclusion that The Premiership, FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League have been and will be, for the foreseeable future, dominated by the mini-league known The Barclays Big Four. There’s no need to go on, all of us reading this are well aware of the extent of this monopoly, but how does it feel to know that, unless you’re a fan of a team in that league, you don’t stand a chance of winning anything. More to the point, what’s it like to support one of these clubs? What’s it like to know you’re going to win, or be involved in the final stages of, at least one of the four aforementioned competitions? Seriously, I’m 27 years old, and…

“I don’t know what it’s like to win a major competition, and as the supporter of a Middling Championship Club in English football today, I will never know the feeling of winning a major honour as long as I live,” I say to Dave.

“You’re an idiot…” he replies. Fair comment, perhaps. As ‘they’ say in this country, you can change your sex but not the football club you support, right? But has nobody ever wandered what it’s like to just switch? (Football team, I mean). Just for a season? Just once. Sure, anybody can do it for one week, or have a ‘second team’ – but what about making an emotional commitment to a completely different football club for a whole season? Will if bring me back the excitement I had as kid? Will it revitalise my passion for a game that has become predictable for the 40-plus other clubs left in the Premier League and Championship – the majority of whom would have had a fair crack of a major honour at some point in the past.

Anyway, this is the nine-month adventure that will take me (albeit just for a while) into the higher reaches of English football. Come join me, as I grace the top stadia, challenge the perceptions of football club supporting, buy a new shirt, worship new players, learn the history of a new club and… try to avoid the kicking of my life.

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11/08/07

I made a vow to spend this season supporting one of The Big Four clubs in the Premier League.

The Reason? It’s a protest… English football’s biggest clubs have decided, through their monopolisation of the game, that none of the other 88 clubs in the football league will ever win anything ever again. Ever.

So, if football has sold its soul, why shouldn’t I? If I want to ever taste victory in my lifetime, there is no other way than to give up the team I’ve supported for 25 years. And why wouldn’t I want to taste victory? Isn’t that one of the reasons why we all started out?

Also, I want to see if I can emotionally detached myself, completely, from the club I loved all my life, to love another. Can it be done?

This blog exists to cover all of the surprises that will no doubt come my way over the next nine months, including the search for a new club; the reactions of my peers; the search for new ‘footie mates’; going to the matches; learning the history of my new club; buying a new shirt/scarf; watching it in the pub; how it feels to ‘belong’ to one of The Big Four; comparing the experiences across the season with my old team.

So, will I see my new team win some silverware? Can I ever go back after this season? Will I be welcomed by my new fellow fans? There are endless elements to the biggest sea change in a football supporter’s life. Join me to see what happens, as I challenge the whole football supporter culture.

The Silly Season

August 2007
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