The highs and lows of a football (soccer) fan. What us supporters put ourselves through for our team.
As a regular visitor at Stoke City games for the past 18 years i've had my fair share of ups and downs supporting my team (more downs than ups until recently) I've felt sheer elation, crushing disappointment, i've laughed, felt angry, i've felt cheated and i've wondered why on earth i put myself through it all week after week. In this hub i'll talk about how my love affair with beautiful game began, about some of the emotions football brings out in people and why it's so important to me and millions of others around the world
Born and bred in stoke-on-trent to a stoke city mad family there was only way team i was ever going to support. I attended my first match at the age of 7. As i took my place on the boothen end for the home game against Southend i didn't know what to expect. As the crowd got bigger and bigger the closer it got to kick off the more nervous i began to get. I was a tiny dot in a sea of football fans and i didn't know what was going to happen next.
I barely noticed that the match had kicked off as i was too interested in looking at the sights around me. As my initial curisoity died down a little i started to concentrate on the pitch. It was a drab affair with hardly any opportunities for both sides. The one thing that struck me though was that any time we (stoke) got anywhere near the opposing penalty area there was a surge from the supporters behind us which pushed you forward. As i child it was a scary experience but it also had a sense of excitement about it too.
The fans cheered the team on, made fun of the opposing goalkeeper and told the referee what they thought of his performance in a nice and conservative manner (okay that last bit was a lie) Late on in the game disaster struck as southend scored, which was greeted by moans and groans all around me. There was a sense of inevitability amongst the Stoke fans. I would find out in the coming years exactly why they felt like that.
So as the final whistle blew people made their way to the nearest pub or home berating the match officials and discussing where the match had been lost. I was suprised at how hard some fans were taking the defeat, after all it was only a game was it not?
A few days passed and i couldn't get the game out of my head. The site of thousands of passionate fans all in the same place, the smell of the half time pies, the roar when the teams took to the field. I wanted more of it.
I started going to games whenever i could with my dad. I started to feel the same disappointment that the other fans felt that day against Southend, i sang along with delilah (Stoke's anthem) and promised not to tell my mum i had said the 'naughty' word in the song. It was fair to say i had begun the long and sometimes painful job of supporting Stoke City, i was well and truly hooked.
As the years went by i suffered disappointment after disappointment with the rare taste of success mixed in along the way. The disappointment didn't deter me, infact it only made me more passionate. They may not be a very good team on the pitch but it was my not very good team, that was my general feeling. No matter how bad we were, i couldn't keep away.
I've witnessed us lose 7.0 at home to Birmingham, 8.0 to Liverpool, 6.1 away at Wigan, 6.0 at Nottingham Forest. I've seen Millwall beat us 2.0 with only 9 men along with many other embarrassments but i was powerless, I didn't choose Stoke City, they chose me.
I think the video below shows why football is the greatest game in the world, along with being the most heartbreaking. I was one of the many thousands of Stoke fans celebrating on the pitch that day as we won promotion to the top flight of english football to end 23 years in the wilderness, but at the other end of the ground there was a different story. Leicester City were relegated that day. The varying emotions from both sets of fans is evident to see in the video. For the leicester fans these were the days you always dread as a football fan and wonder why on earth you put yourself through it all. From a Stoke point of view these were the days you lived for, this is what makes it all worth while. I've been lucky enough and unlucky enough to experience both of these types of days and the contrasting emotions that go with them. I certainly know which feeling i preferred.
Now i understand that football is 22 men kicking pig skin around a field but no one will ever convince me that it's 'just a game'. It started as a game but has evolved into much much more. Football unites nations, cities, towns and villages, It can bring out every possible human emotion, it gives some people a purpose in life, it gives them an identity. Football is a way of life.Can anyone possibly imagine how former Leeds United and South Africa defender Lucas Radebe felt when Nelson Mandela, one of the most inspirational men of all time said "this is my hero" when taking about him.
Anyway, enough rambling from me. As you can probably tell football features high in my priorities in life. It's not a bad thing, far from it.
Thanks for taking the time to read, why not take a look at my other hubs?
- Wayne Rooney: Have Manchester United fattened the goose?
Is Wayne Rooney's new contract at Manchester United all it's made out be?