Man, I hate doing this. But you know what they say, the truth will set you free. I have been holding this within me for such a long time I just have to let it go. That is the only way I can move on in a healthy manner. This is my closure so to speak.
I supported Manchester United once!!! There! I said it, get it all out of your system now. Before you call me a fair weather fan know this; I was not born in London, I have only ever been there once in my life. To be honest with you the only thing London has going for it is that Arsenal has its stadium there. From what I have seen in American sports a sports team is only as loyal as the money in the fans’ pockets. So, at the end of the day the sports team will follow the money. Which makes sense. For these athletes to perform every weekend for your entertainment and be subject to your criticism when none of us can do better than them sucks man. The sports team owners are putting their money into these establishment in the hope of making a profit, not because they love you and they want to entertain you. So as long as you keep filling the stadiums, buying their jerseys, viewing their websites, etc., you are making them money. As the old adage goes, sticks and stones may break my bones but fuck you I have your money. Simple.
Let’s go back a few years, well more than a few. I went to this school where participating in sports was mandatory. Even if you were not on a team you still went for practice and had your own dedicated coach and you just played with your friends while the coach supervised. In the off chance that a hidden gem is identified then that talented is exploited. The thing is exposure is the most important thing a person can get. We only know what we know so for us to grow we have to experience new things i.e. be exposed to new things otherwise we will never know if we like it or not. I am also a firm believer of if it ain’t broke do not fix it. Fixing something that does not need to be fixed is only creating a problem where there wasn’t one. Sounds like busy work, personally I would rather spend my time at home as opposed to being busy for the sake of being, especially if I am not getting paid to do said work. One thus finds themselves in a catch 22, to experience new things; or reinvent the wheel? In a situation where participation is mandatory, the decision changes from damned if you do damned if you don’t to picking the lesser of two evils. My options were between Hockey, Rugby, and Football (soccer). Rugby was too rough, hockey required peripherals that required to be changed as I age so that is a barrier to entry, and football was, as Goldie Locks said, was just right.
Unfortunately, I was no hidden gem when it came to my football talent, I was rather a diamond in the rough. And not your huge priceless diamond either, but some small diamond that will still make some girl very happy one day. I did not make the A team…. nor did I make the B team. C team; that is where I found myself. C Team is not bad for someone who has never kicked a ball. I remember how I was selected for the team also. The coach thought I looked like I had talent. LOL! Yup, I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth. The reason I call it a gift is because the C team actually had regular fixtures with other schools and my best friend at the time was in the C Team as well. He had more raw talent than me. He was actually selected for the team before our first competitive match before me. It was his selection that motivated me to get my game up so I can get selected as well. I did not want him to get an experience that I did not have. That would mean he would be leaving me behind. Like they say, surround yourself with people with a mindset that you want to have. I made the team and never missed a game. I had so much fun playing the sport. Around the same time, I started to notice football on TV and I took interest because I could identify with the players. I have played the same game as them but they have mastered the art way better than I could ever dream of. As such I had a profound respect for their talent and I wanted to soak it in as much of it as possible. As such, I would follow the English Premier League. My local TV station had the best coverage too. Each week they would show one game in its entirety and then show the highlights show that covered all the games of that weekend as well as extra pieces of journalism to give the viewer a better appreciation of the full picture.
It was through this I came to fall in love with Manchester United. They played sublime football under Sir Alex Ferguson. A few friends from school also followed the sport so it was always fun to discuss football during our various breaks at school (even sometimes during class) and not to mention trying out the skills that I saw on TV for myself. It is through this and hard work I managed to score one goal, have my coach comment in my report how good of a defender I was, playing for my school age U 17 A team. I had a good career. So much fun. If you read my blog you will notice that I like to have fun; that is the meaning of life if you ask me. If we are not here to have fun then why are we here. This is something my fellow Zimbabweans understand. No matter how crappy life gets we always have fun with it. Granted we have never been in a war situation… well not in recent history; as such it is probably easier to have a joking attitude to your predicament as long as your life is not threatened.
Eventually, my brothers got into it and so did my cousin that stayed with us at the time. One brother picked Manchester United, the other and my cousin picked Arsenal. At that time that was the rivalry. If Manchester United were not winning the title then Arsenal was. You can imagine the debates that happened within our household. Then, 1999 came. Manchester United treble winning season. I was so happy. The Giggs goal in the FA Cup Semi-final against Arsenal. This man literally ran with the ball from our defending half to their attacking half and buried the ball home with a scorcher of a shot!!! The league was a series of 38 games that we navigated so well. Then the coup de grace, the champions league final. Against Bayern Munich. I knew very little of them as I am strictly an English Premier League supporter. We were 1-nil down the majority of the game. Then in the final 4 minutes of the game we managed to come back and score two last minute goals to win the game 2-1 in dramatic fashion. The treble was completed. What a time to be alive and to be a fan. This was at a time when the champions league final was on Wednesdays; the next day at school I walked with a spring in my step. I could not wait for the banter… the banter was good. My latin teacher had also started developing a liking to the sport and was supporting Manchester United as well. This one time he decided to go around the class and ask people what team they supported. He was a bit of a jerk so I guess my class mates felt they were put in the spot and had to answer with something. With glory comes the glory seekers. I do not blame them, it is not like any of us lived in Manchester and thus our allegiance, in the grand scheme of things was a non-event. At that time, we were not effective demand. Most friends that did not care ended picking Manchester United for their team because that is all they knew. Besides what is a little white lie when compared to being berated by a latin teacher of all things, the man teaches a dead language for crying out loud. I did not have a problem with that, the problem came through when some of these glory hunters decided to get committed. Arrgh, they ruined my banter with their bragging. As if they directly had a hand in their victory. I do not like braggers: in this world we are supposed to brag, personally I feel like my work should speak for itself, but that is a topic for another day.
I did not like keeping company with these fly-by-night “fans”. I knew I had to find a new team. I ended up supporting Arsenal. Really, the fact that they were the main contenders was not what drew me to them. Arsenal played good football. I really enjoyed watching them play. If I had stayed at Manchester United, I would have had a happier teenagerhood… not to mention a happier present… but I could not keep company with those guys. I had to bring them down. Every time Manchester United lost I made sure I rubbed it into their faces. My goal was to make them admit they do not really support the team to get me to leave them alone. I said some pretty mean stuff, I do not like that side of me but I realized that side of me is necessary sometimes. Manchester United won more than they lost, so it was tough, but the few moments I won it was orgasmic! Lol!!
Now everyone knows me as an Arsenal supporter. I wonder if anyone remembers my time in the dark? Somethings are better off let alone, I guess.