There’s no choice. If you live in New Zealand and you want a steady high quality diet of the world’s favourite game on television, it’s the English Premier League or nothing. Given the only real alternative is to go without completely, I have tried endlessly to get truly passionate about the English stuff. I do enjoy watching it. I even sometimes get something that remotely resembles excited. But my real handicap is there is no one club that gets me passionate enough to make me want to set the alarm clock rather than the video recorder.
One of the rules of football is teams choose you, you don’t choose them. You fall in love, and like with any form of love you can’t force it. You have to go out on a few dates and see what develops. But I have tried watching every team in the Premier League and while there are some I like, some I like a lot, I still haven’t found that special someone that gets my heart racing or my palms sweating anything like Roma or the Italian National team do.
To start with I had a terrible run with the sides I tried to follow getting relegated. The first of the Premier League era, Chrystal Palace, don’t ask me why I tried them, were relegated in 1993. Then I decided I liked Norwich because of their attractive style at the time, they went down in 1995. Middlesbrough is perhaps the team I’ve felt the closest thing to proper passion for. That was because of Italian heroes Fabrizio Ravanelli and Gianluca Festa, but alas, they were relegated in 1997.
At that point I decided this run of miserable luck might be at least partly due to my appalling lack of loyalty, so I resolved keep following Boro. I’m sorry to say my patience wore thin eventually though. There is little point in supporting an English club so you can watch them on telly only for them to spend all their time in Division 1. For all the exposure to Steve Gibson’s men I was getting they might as well have been in the Ukrainian sixth tier. After a period of following nobody, I finally decided to try Everton in 2005, largely because of a close friend who supports them, but after a few seasons following the Toffees I have come to find my heart is not really in it.
At the moment when I set the My Sky to record games to watch on Sunday mornings, the two teams I seem to naturally gravitate towards wanting to watch are Arsenal and Manchester City. City, I’m weary of because I know I only like them due to Mancini and Balotelli – as I learnt with Middlesbrough, the problem with choosing a team because of players or coaches is that when people inevitably move on, you are left with nada. When the Italians are gone, I doubt I’ll care much about Citeh anymore. Arsenal, I like because a favourite uncle likes them and this has given me a lot of exposure to them whenever I’ve watched games with him. But it’s for this reason I know, as it was with Everton, any interest is really more someone else’s than mine and will in all likelihood wane just as quickly as it started.
So the search continues. I’m still desperately looking for love. Maybe one day it will happen and maybe it won’t. But in the meantime I need a new direction to turn. There are a few limitations. I can’t support:
Clubs with horrible supporters – Leeds, Manchester United
Clubs with right wing supporters – Chelsea
Any club that has ever signed Paolo Di Canio – West Ham, Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday
Any club that has beaten Roma in a European Cup final – Liverpool
But apart from that I’m completely open minded.
Can you help? Which English team should I try to follow next and why? Tell me in the comments.
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.