Can you develop a love of football in your 30s?
I developed epilepsy as a child and was told that getting out of breath could trigger an attack. So, I was pulled out of games at school, banned from swimming and my bike was sold. As a result I never found a place in my life for sport, something that I deeply regret.
Talking about sport, especially football, acts as a social glue. It enables men (and very occasionally women) to have a conversation with someone about a topic that many people find enjoyment in. You will regularly hear people say “Did you see the game at the weekend?”, enabling the respondent to reply swiftly or offer more detail depending on how long they have available to speak.
Now when you are a guy who has never played football, or even watched a full match, conversations with other men can become stunted. I will give you an example: I was in a meeting with two other men who supported football teams, one Huddersfield Town, the other Arsenal. For the first five minutes of the meeting the two other guys spoke in a language that is alien to me: signings, transfers, first team and so on. As I sat looking out of the window one of them apologised. I then apologised for not supporting football, and the meeting began. But it was immediately evident that the two other guys had formed a bond, and I was the outsider.
I don’t want to seem paranoid, and I am fully aware that there is a life outside of football, but occasionally you don’t want to have to stop someone’s conversation or continually answer with “No, I don’t support anyone”. So, after another meeting where the topic of football was used to lighten the mood I decided that I would try and get into football – how hard could it be?
I went back to my desk and told the team that I was going to become a football supporter, and asked for them to recommend a club. This was at first met with laughs, but then suggestions were put forward and I selected Fulham. The only thing I knew about them was their location and that they had once had a statue of Michael Jackson outside the stadium (I think that’s now been removed).
Declaring my allegiance to Fulham was met with mixed responses; one friend said she had told her husband who had said that I was mad and football is something that should be ‘in your blood’, others laughed, claiming that you can’t just start supporting a football club through a recommendation, that there had to be a ‘history’.
Now this is the first blog that I will post on football, and I will follow up with how I get on. I have to say that I am already starting to experience conversations that I had never been part of before, and it is quite revealing. Do I feel like a fraud? Yes. Do I care? No.
So, Fulham you have a new fan. Shame you were relegated, but at least no one can call me a glory supporter.