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A pocket guide to being a loser

Auckland City 3, WaiBOP United 2
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, January 25 2015

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I have never claimed to be a football expert. In fact, I have tried to make a virtue out of being nothing of the sort. But when it comes to the vast world of football knowledge, there is one aspect I consider myself to be a leading authority on – losing. The teams I support are all really, really good at it so I have had a shitload of practical experience in this complex and demanding field of expertise. There is no kind of loss I haven’t suffered. From humiliating 7-1 defeats at Old Trafford to last minute heartbreakers at Porritt Stadium, I’ve lived them all. So here follows a few simple pointers to help you prepare for loss, deal with loss, and behave when confronted by a friend or loved one who is suffering from a severe footballing disappointment.

First of all, how do you mentally prepare yourself for a game that you know, in your heart of hearts, your team is unlikely to come away from with a win?

There are many options to choose from.

  1. The ‘Over Compensation Method’…
  1. The ‘Lauren Cooper Defence’…


Hint: Yeah, it really is.

  1. The ‘Clutching at Straws Tactic’…
  1. The ‘Pollyanna Strategy’…
  1. The ‘Pessimistic Approach’…

Truth be told, most of us go through many or all of these in the space of the build up to one unwinnable game. Sometimes one is more prevalent than the other. Other times it’s far from unknown for a particular fan to adopt 1, 3 or 4, in the build up to a game, but then when asked about it afterwards they would swear before the Privy Council that it was 5 or 2 the whole time M’Lords! Or vice versa after an unlikely win. Consistency has never been a common trait in the common garden variety football fan.

This week, for example, with WaiBOP coming off an amazing comeback victory at home against Canterbury United, I was mostly oscillating between 2, 3 and 5 in that order. “Well, we’ve just had that amazing win last week, the team will be so fired up and full of confidence, Auckland City might be taking us a bit lightly… But of course, I don’t really care that much. A win would be great but who could possibly expect such a shock result? It’ll never happen. But will it? Never! It might? No, it definitely won’t… But it might though! Although, it probably won’t, not that I particularly care either way…”

Obviously the WaiBOP victory didn’t happen, which of course I predicted all along.

Post-match, there are just as many coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with the emotional fallout from a loss like this. There’s get drunk, take to Twitter to vent frustration (not naming names here!), blame the ref, blame the surface, blame the government, or (my personal favourite) go into complete denial and pretend the whole game never even occurred in the first place – just to name but a few.

Which post-match method you choose is entirely down to personal taste, provided you bear one fundamental thing in mind – always remember that there is nothing and/or nobody on this planet that/who has it in any way worse than you. No famines, no wars, no water shortages, natural disasters, homicides, demonic possessions, alien invasions or political or religious executions can possibly compare to the wretched, miserable, black hole of misery you currently find yourself in. So if anyone tells you otherwise, be sure to take appropriate retribution. The ultimate sanction available is far from drastic in this situation; on the contrary it is completely justified for this most heinous of crimes. Unfriending them on Facebook should teach them a jolly good lesson and send a strong message to anyone else considering similar such folly.

Which brings me to the dos and don’ts of comforting a loved one who is suffering from football related anguish. The first thing you need to know is that one thing is universal when it comes to true fans – they are going through the full grieving process, and I’m talking the whole gambit, of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This must be respected.

One thing you should never do if you have any heart at all is attempt to rub a defeat in the face of a suffering fan, at least until he or she has reached the final stage of their grieving process. Would you laugh in a widow’s face at a funeral? I hope not. So leave us poor grieving fans alone! This goes for winning fans too. Celebrate your win, by all means, but never in the faces of opponents or their fans. That’s just basic human decency 101. Once a grieving fan hits acceptance it’s fair game, but before that it’s just unnecessarily heartless and cruel to even so much as mention the word ‘football’. Until that time, any loved one’s stock standard response to any football related mumbles, grumbles, rants, uncontrolled sobbing, hysteria, or similar such understandable behaviour should be a simple “yes, dear”.

So rather than dwell any longer on WaiBOP’s loss at the hands of the mortal JAFA enemy, I will simply close on this point: Next week we play top of the table Team Wellington in Cambridge – We WILL SMASH THEM TO SMITHERINES, not that I care that much, but we should win because it’s my birthday and those nice Wellingtonians wouldn’t be so cruel as to beat my team on my birthday, plus we should win because we’re practically perfect in every way, even though we probably won’t because they are way better than us.

See you next week when I will deny all knowledge of this post and you will resist every urge under the sun to call me on it. Over and out.

Categories: NZ Men's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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