The age-old debate of supporting the football team from the town you live, or opting for a bigger more successful team.
I am a Coventry City supporter. I was born in 1989 and raised in the city of Coventry. I’ve supported them ever since I first took my grandad’s hand as he lead me through the terraced housing streets of Hillfields amongst the sea of Sky blue, down the concrete steps of the famous west terrace, where I would have a future season ticket, to be captivated by the magical, albeit 0-0 draw against Stockport County, by the amazing global sport we call ours.
I have followed them from the old, rusty, memory laden Highfield road to the more modern 21st century football ground that is the Ricoh Arena – but not to Sixfields which is another story entirely.
I have always been against glory supporting. I have had friends that support Man Utd, when they have lived in Coventry, all their lives and have no connection to Manchester what so ever. I have even been to Old Trafford more times than most of them to watch Coventry beat them 2-0 in the Carling Cup!
It really annoyed me for a long time. Especially when Coventry were relegated from the premiership then moved to the Ricoh, to a 32,000 seater stadium and only ever averaging around 17,000 fans a week. I thought if all of those glory hunters just supported their own team we would have a full stadium, which equals more money, and hopefully get us back up to the promise land.
If there was a glory hunting haters club I would be president of that club. The old plastic fans insult and the jokes: ” don’t sit too close to that radiator you might melt” etc, or referring to their choice of team to a mere TV team for the armchair supporters. It annoys me to see little kids around Coventry City Center wearing an Arsenal or Chelsea shirt. Although you can afford slight leniency to these kids if their dads are from said areas of the UK and have brought their sons up to support their own team.
I now have a 1 year old son. Who when was born I couldn’t wait to get him his first Coventry City FC shirt, and had all the lines and excuses ready in my head why he should support them and not a big premiership team.
But I seem to be changing in my grand old age of 25. I had an epiphany the other day when I was looking at the turmoil my club is currently in. If you didn’t know we don’t own our current ground The Ricoh Arena. There was a dispute between the club and owners about rent, which resulted in point’s deductions and moving our club to play at Northampton’s ground Sixfields. It wasn’t until this happened that I realised how much of an integral part your local football team is in your life if you’re a supporter.
I was one of the groups that refused to go to Sixfields as we were disgusted with how the club was being run. So out of protest we wanted to starve the club of money to force them back to our city. It was like loosing a limb because I had nothing to do on the weekend or Tuesday nights, there were friends I didn’t see anymore, and there was a real divide in the city between the goers and the abstainers. It really got me down as it would any football fan. But thankfully our boycotting paid off and we are back at the Ricoh. The news of that when it hit filled me up with tears of joy. I was so happy! It was the best news I could have heard.
So now I’ve reflected on the situation. We as Coventry City fans have been through two relegations, points deductions, no club in my city and poor results on the pitch. I’ve realised how much my football club affects my day-to-day life. Which is a lot. Current turmoil aside, when I check the results on the weekend or go to a game and see we’ve lost, it puts me in a bit of a mood for the rest of the day.
So I’ve debated about how healthy it is to have a really passionate hobby, supporting a team that you have no control over, when it has a bearing on your day-to-day life. I wondered how many times I’ve been down over the years as a result of Coventry losing, and I can bet it’s a hell of a lot.
Then I thought do I want to put my son through that? Do I want to put him through the emotional rollercoaster that is supporting Coventry City Football Club?
I was listening to Talk Sport the other day and they were debating on whether to play a premiership game abroad for international fans. Then they said about maybe taking one of the cup finals abroad.
At that point a chap who supported Manchester United rang in (not even slightly a Mancunian accent I might add). He said ”you can’t do that because if any of the smaller teams get to the final then that might be their only chance to get to Wembley”. After hearing this I thought he’s right! That really would be amazing if Coventry got to Wembley again (I wasn’t born when we won the FA cup in 1987). It made me realise that it must be almost commonplace for him as a Manchester United fan to go to Wembley. What a great life he must lead? I wonder how the success of his team has impacted on his life. Maybe one day it resulted in him working a bit harder at work, or being a bit more friendly with his boss because of the buzz he’s got about his team winning another cup – and as a result got a promotion etc. I wonder if people who support the top teams in the country are generally happier and more successful than people who support teams in the lower echelons of the football league. Obviously there are many mitigating factors and you couldn’t gauge such an experiment. But it’s a real possibility.
So that leaves me with a dilemma and it has come down to 3 options regarding my son.
Do I option 1: Bring him up as a Coventry City supporter and reduce him to a potential lifetime of unhappiness and disappointment.
Do I option 2: Take him to see Chelsea and bring him up as a Chelsea supporter so he can be happy with his successful team for years to come. Which will maybe have a positive impact on his every day life (I couldn’t bring myself to let him support Manchester United or Man City glory or not).
Or do I go for option 3: Bring him up to support no one. Yes I said no one. I remember working on site one day and chatting to a site manager, as you do, about which football team he supports. And he said something I’ve never heard before. He said ”I love football. I teach it to kids in my area (Leicester). But I don’t support anyone because although I love football I don’t want it to impact on my everyday life”. At the time of him saying this I thought he’s mad. But as I’ve got older I can see his point. So option 3 would be to take my son to see a different team each week. We’ll go to Stoke City, then Chelsea, then arsenal, and then maybe Southampton etc so he can just enjoy it for what it is, football.
Although he might go to school and end up coming home supporting Man Utd anyway! Making the whole exercise pointless, it’s definitely something to think about and thankfully have a few more years yet.
But ultimately it comes down to whether I bring him up loyal to his hometown club, or for a happy successful football supporting life. Hmmm.
Picture Source: (http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/picture-see-how-serie-b-1791543)