Love of Football
My love of football gradually evolved over my life. My mum used to work on a Saturday and my dad would take myself, my older brother and sometimes my older male cousin to games. I think I must have been taken from a very young age – maybe under 8.
My dad didn’t take me to the watch the same team, we moved around different local teams each week, depending on who was at home. We’re from Manchester and had quite a few local teams, such as Oldham Athletic, Bury, Rochdale and Bolton, and of course that’s without the big 2.
My brother and cousin went on to follow Manchester City. I used to love staying up on a Saturday night and watching Match of the Day with my brother. It was a ritual, get comfy with a snack, turn the lights out and watch like it was the cinema. The theme tune still sends chills down my spine – I associate it with happy times.
My love for football grew more when I went to High School and I became friends with another girl who was also football crazy. As soon as I left school at 16, we got jobs and started to attend games, funding it from our wages. That was in 1976. In 1977 I then purchased my first season ticket for Manchester City. We would also travel to away games. This was no mean feat for 2 young girls during the dark days of the era of terrible football violence in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was certainly character building.
My love of football continues – I even managed to fit a busy nursing career around my attendance at games. There was a period of 12 seasons from 1985 when I didn’t attend regularly whilst I established my self in my career. I was fortunate enough to work with fabulous colleagues, who accepted my love of football and would swap shifts with me, often at short notice to help me get to games.
How it makes me feel
How it makes me feel is probably the one thing that keeps the love alive. I am a fanatical Manchester City fan. Anyone young now and just starting out watching the sport will see my team as a team who are successful and have won the Premiershp, breaking many records last season. However, it hasn’t always been like that 20 years ago, in 1999, we probably faced our lowest point in the club’s history. Down in the 3rd tier of football, at Wembley fighting for promotion. We were losing 2-0 with 5 minutes to go. Had we not won, there was the potential for us to fall even lower and face obscurity. We equalised in extra time, won in full time and the rest is history. Wow, the emotions we went through on that day were draining, from excitement, anticipation, dejection, sadness to the final feeling of elation! Supporting a football team totally puts you through the wringer at times.
I know many friends and colleagues, mostly female, cannot understand what I see in the sport. All they see is something that turns their male partners into neanderthals, obsessed with a shirt colour and makes them spend a lot of time away from them and their family. It is very hard to explain to a ‘non believer’ the fun and pleasure you get from the fabulous sport.
My love of football isn’t only for my team – I love all the game. I will watch any game in any league and from any country in the world! When many women hate the start of autumn and winter to me it doesn’t hold any fear as to me it is the time when football is played to the max. I love it when there is a football game on TV – some weeks that can be 5 nights out of 7! Total bliss for me.
My love of football can dictate my whole mood. Including periods of anxiety, low mood and of course make me the happiest person alive. I’m writing this waiting to go and watch my team play at The Etihad this afternoon. we are now approaching the phase that is known as ‘the business end’ of the season, a time where titles and cups are won and lost by the teams performance and a club to be relegated or promoted. As a Manchester City fan we are fortunate now to be chasing 4 cups. This is the best position to be in, but it also brings about stress and anxiety. Your whole week can deteriorate on a loss. Constant need to look at the table and rivals fixtures to see where points can be won or lost. Not to mention alcohol consumption to dull the pain. As an example Manchester City played mid week in a game that we should have been expected to win, but we lost. It was an away game and I was watching from home. I started off perky and chatty and as the game and performance deteriorated I sunk lower and lower into my sofa using words I’m not proud of. A bottle of wine needed to be opened and drunk! I was gutted at the loss fearing hopes of winning the title again were gone. Waking up the next morning I felt even worse. However as the day progresses I start to feel better as you tell yourself there are much worse things in life. Later on fate steps in and your nearest rivals draw a game they were expected to win and suddenly life is not so black anymore! A whole range of emotions in one 24 hour period. Today we play a big game against Arsenal, but I leave full of hope and optimism. How I’ll feel on my return is another matter!
Sense of purpose and identity
I attend games with my family- my brother, sister in law, nephew, niece and great nephew – our ages range from 8 – 70! It’s a real family affair. This is a plus side to point out to those detractors who cannot understand the love of football. It is an activity that draws us all together. It also provides a purpose in life. Following the team keeps your mind and body occupied, it gives us opportunity to travel. I have been to Barcelona and Paris St Germain to watch the team play.
I dream of seeing them lift The Champions League trophy in Europe one season. It is also a great leveller and conversation starter. When we’re away wherever we are in the world football is always a topic that starts conversations in bars, hotels restaurants etc. People always ask where we are from. The reply of Manchester always leads to the next question of who we support – City or United? Conversation between fans can be civil and friendly. It’s not all tribalism! Football chat breaks the ice and makes friends.
Having said all this it can be a great sport to introduce the withdrawn or lonely child too. It can give them something to follow and spark enthusiasm and purpose. Inside a stadium we are all friends together and chat away.
In a final note I have to give a big shout out to my lovely Mr Fitz! He does not follow my team nor goes to games. When we met in 1980 I was already a big City fan. He has happily lived with my obsession, often referring to City being the third person in our marriage. Our social life between August and June is dictated to by fixtures, having to decline many an invitation as it clashes with a game. I do miss some games, particularly in January, when we have our winter sun holiday. We do however, watch the team on TV in our destination. It has also contributed to some great memories for us -watching City in the New York branch of the City Supporters club, a great afternoon. Also he came with me to Paris to watch City in a Champions League game. This was a competition prize with hospitality. A great prize and a lovely first trip to Paris.
Anyway I must go and get wrapped up in thermals, thick coat and club scarf to watch my beloved team. Thanks for popping by and reading. I’d love to hear your comments are you football friend or foe, a fellow female fan or a football widow?