Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Robbie Dennison for Wolverhampton Wanderers (vs Manchester City), 1st December 1996

I’ve a confession to make. Once I’ve made it, you may wish to never read another word that I have to say about football – and I think you would have every right. Here we go then: I don’t like football all that much.

There. I’ve said it.

I was going to take advantage of the fact that it was bound to be a quiet day at work today to sit down and contribute something useful to CUAS for the first time in months (well done to Lord B for keeping her going more or less single-handedly). I thought that perhaps I would write a piece highlighting my favourite Wolves XI from my time as a supporter. I could do a little pen-profile of each player, perhaps with a little photo (assuming that you can find a little photo of people like Andy Thompson or Robbie Dennison on google).

I started to think about it, and quickly came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do it. I think I managed about 5 players (Mike Stowell, Thompson, John de Wolf, Robbie Keane and Steve Bull). Obviously I can name more players than that, but it just didn’t seem right putting Kevin Muscat into the side simply because I couldn’t think of another full-back. No. I’m just not enough of a fan to be able to do it. In fact, I’m not much of a fan at all.

I was born in Northampton, who have a football league team all of their own, so why do I support Wolverhampton Wanderers? I’ve been to the old Northampton county ground more times than I have been to Molineux. Actually, I’ve also been to Sixfields and the City Ground in Nottingham more times than I have been to Molineux. I’ve seen Wolves playing at Old Trafford as often as I have seen them playing at home. Hell. I’ve watched Venezia playing in Venice more times than I have watched Wolves playing in Wolverhampton, and I’ve been to the Bernabeu as often. Yes. I have seen Wolves playing at Molineux once in my whole life. Against Norwich. It was 2-2 (with two late Wolves goals as everyone was leaving).

I started supporting Wolves in 1987 when they were in the old 4th Division. Why? I decided I needed to support a team. Northampton would have been the logical choice, but as I had been living away from home at boarding school since the age of 7, I didn’t feel much of a bond with my home town, covered my eyes and blindly picked a side from the league tables. Although the team was edge of bankruptcy, these were golden days for Wolves. Steve Bull and Andy Mutch were rampaging their way through the division, seemingly scoring at will, and the great old club was at the start of a run of promotions that would see them stuck frustratingly one tier below the top flight, where they remain today. They were hardly a glamour pick, but I picked them and I’ve stuck with them since.

I don’t go to many games. I like watching football from time to time, and I try to take in a game whenever I’m abroad, but it’s not a regular thing. I’ve been to maybe 20 live games in my whole life. I’ve watched Wolves playing Nottingham Forest four or five times over the last ten years, and I’ve watched both Forest and Notts County (my local sides now) playing other teams, but live football is always expensive and is usually disappointing. I have Sky Sports, but I only occasionally put the Premiership on, and when I do, it’s usually as background to reading the paper. As a spectator sport, I find football comes a poor third to Rugby Union and to Cricket. Who have Wolves got today? No idea. On New Year’s Eve? Pass. Any idea of the league position? Not really. Top Scorer? Erm. The Romanian guy?

Pathetic isn’t it?

So I’m afraid to say that I’m something of a bluffer: I know something about the game, stuff that I have gleaned from my obsession with reading sports pages in newspapers and on websites, but I have no passion for the game.

So there you go. Thought you should probably know.

Is it possible to be dispassionately interested and opinionated in football? To religiously watch Match of the Day but not really give a damn who wins the league (whilst oddly also being able to state a preference for the result of each game)? To be really looking forward to the World Cup and to hope that England to win, but to also be really interested to find out how the African qualifiers get on, and to hope that the side who plays the best football wins, even if that won’t necessarily be England?

Is it normal to be so bloodless about football? Isn't it a game about passion and loyalties?

You tell me. I just feel like a fake.

19 comments:

Lord Bargain said...

I do find that slightly odd, but only as someone for whom that isn't the case.

As Danny Baker once remarked, when asked about cheering on other English teams in European competition - "I am a specific football fan, not a generic football fan..."

I'd have Denis Irwin as a Wolves full back. Rather obviously....

SwissToni said...

but I can hear the contempt in Danny Baker's voice when he says it. I quite like the game of football (albeit not as much as rugby or cricket), but I hate some of the idiots who run it and some of the morons who play it.

I am a fan. I'm just not the same kind of fan as some of you. And, I might add, not the same kind of fan as a prawn sandwich waving follower of fashion either. I support Wolves, for heaven's sake. Not chelsea.

ST

SwissToni said...

I worry I'm the same with my love of music as well.

Maybe I'm just pathalogically detached?

ST

Lord Bargain said...

I should also mention that in my 20 years of going to Old Trafford, I have never ever seen, heard of or had the opportunity for consumption of any fish based sandwich.

I had a nice meal there, once. Some curry dish, as I recall....

Alex said...

Music was my first love. And it'll be my last.

Music of the future, music of the past.

Or something...

But I love footy too. Its deep in the blood really. There is nothing like the feeling of the shared experience with complete strangers, and nothing feels quite like it does watching your team score...

Well for me that it is anyway. My old boss used to go on about his son who was one of those "generic" fans. I find that a bit odd really. I mean I have enjoyed watching a game as a neutral, and have even paid to see a neutral game for something to do, but I still don't understand how someone can follow football but not follow one team.

Does that make me a bad person? I hope not...

El Tel said...

Don't feel like a fake, there's no need. If football was all about blind faith and inexplicable passion then many would be lost.

One of my most treasured football moments occured a couple of years ago when me and girlfriend (as was) went to see Cambridge Utd v Bury on a sunny September afternoon. I/we couldn't have given a sh1t about the scoreline (we had no emotional/financial investment in either team), it was the simple silly pleasure of spending an unwound day in the sun and letting other people do the caring that made the day. We later took a walk through the city, took in some views and etc etc etc. Not really the standard hearts on sleeves, beerish, boorish football stereotype, but in my experience - perfect.

If you get anything out of football, then great, if not, then hey ho.

-------
On second thoughts, yes Mr Swiss Toni, you might be pathologically detached. And yes, Alex, it probably does make you a bad person to not understand the generic follower of football.

Lord Bargain said...

On El Tel's point, one of the best football experiences of my life was when a pal of mine and I ended up in Liege during Euro 2000 to watch a dead rubber match between Denmark and the Czech Republic.

After a day in Liege, and a decent game (the Czechs won 2-0) we went back into town for what turned out to be quite a few beers, and ended up sitting and getting drunk with the Danish branch of the Manchester City Supporters Club.

Just - brilliant.

Ben said...

Afraid it's something I find difficult to understand.

Being a Newcastle fan, I've lost count of the number of times I've cursed my bad fortune to have been effectively born into supporting the useless bastards. I ride the highs and lows - there's nothing dispassionate about my support for the club, and as I've suggested, that's often a cause of regret. But it's not something I can change. If I could get free of moping around after a pitiful defeat, I would.

That's why, I guess, I really enjoy watching games as a neutral either on TV or in the flesh with friends who support one of the teams involved. That's where the real pleasure lies - when you're emotionally detached from what you're watching. With Newcastle, it's very very rare that I actually enjoy watching them.

It's a curse.

So, my initial reaction to your post was probably approaching scorn. On reflection, it's more like envy.

Yorkie said...

Oh there must be thousands of people like you. I can't understand it, but obviously some people think cricket or Rugby is a better game than football. Your distinguishing characteristic is that you feel moved to write a blog about a game you don't really like or follow. Just can't understand that.

SwissToni said...

"a game you don't really like or follow"

Well, that's a bit harsh, and it's not really what I was saying either is it? I would be a strange bird indeed to write about a game I couldn't give a shit about.

I'm not one of those supporters who goes to every game week in, week out... it's true... but I do at least have an allegiance and I do genuinely love and follow the game. I think perhaps I just do so in a different way to many of you. That I also like cricket and rugby has got frankly nothing to do with it. There's no need to get all holier than though about it, is there?

How would you define someone truly qualified to write about the beautiful game then, eh? Is someone who only goes to home games allowed, or do you really have to go to most away games as well? Tell me. I'm all ears.

ST

(and don't forget that Lord Bargain is a Manchester Utd Season ticket holder, so don't be tarring him with the same brush as you are tarring me. Tar him with a different one)

SwissToni said...

oh hold on, I did say:

"I don’t like football all that much"

hm.

I was going for dramatic effect really, but I do see what you mean Yorkie. The thrust of my post is simply me coming clean that although I'm a Wolves fan, I don't really go to many games.

ST

SwissToni said...

"I have no passion for the game"

Okay. I said that too.

ST

Lord Bargain said...

I don't know about you lot, but I'm happy to sit here and watch Swiss have this debate with himself for the rest of the holidays....

Lord Bargain said...

....he's the thinking man's Vicky Pollard.

"No, but yeah, but no, but yeah, but...."

SwissToni said...

I imagine you're all looking forward to my next post now then, yeah? Shall I make it on something good? How about "Chelsea are winning a lot - I'm going to support them" or perhaps "They should make the goals bigger"?

I'm open to suggestions.

*sigh*

I think I've made a rod for my own back.

ST

(ironically, I've been thinking of little else but my post-1987 Wolves dream team, so maybe I'll just post that. And our top scorer is Carl Cort, by the way... and I actually knew that when I wrote too)

Are you bothered though?

Lord Bargain said...

what about "Ronaldinho: Lucky or Quite Good?"

or

"Peter Crouch: Good Touch For A Big Man?"

weenie said...

Isn't passion just a perception though? Who's to say one person is more passionate about football than someone else? Ok, so you don't have a Wolves duvet or wallpaper set in your bedroom, but does that make you any less of a fan?

Football has and needs all sorts of fans - you just seem to be one of the more honest ones.

SwissToni said...

thanks weenie - I don't have a wolves duvet cover, but I have been the proud owner of a succession of dreadful wolves shirts over the years. My favourite is the one from the early 90s in the shape of a wolf's head, but my current one is the premiership shirt with "9 Bull" on the back. It's not a great colour to wear casually, frankly.

If you needed more proof, somewhat bizarrely, there is also a seat somewhere in the away end in Bury with my name on it proclaiming my support of Wolves... as a result of a donation I made to them to help them stay afloat.

It takes all sorts.

ST

(who watched Villa v Arsenal this afternoon, and is still wondering why)

Mike said...

A very entertaining post and comment. I think I can identify with what you're saying, ST (although I'm not entirely sure). I chose Spurs as my team in a similarly random way and have been to the Lane once, ever. I still became a member, though, when I was a kid, and did all the "I hate Arsenal" thing just because I felt I should. However, these days I actually quite like Arsenal and think they play the kind of football I like to watch. Many Spurs fans would say that I'm not, therefore, a real fan. I would argue that, actually, I do like Spurs, but I'm an adult now, so I don't need to behave like a child and hate something just because someone else says so.

I'm a general football fan, I think, and watch it all the time, and as long as I see a good game, I don't really care who wins unless it's England or Spurs playing.