Thursday, August 24, 2006

Favourite Other Team

I've never really been able to raise much enthusiasm for supporting anyone else. Over the years I have "dabbled" in a glory hunting sort of way but never with any real purpose.

As a small boy I supported Spurs. Don't know why. My folks even took me to see them play the Leeds team (hated them) at White Heart Lane when I was about 7 0r 8. 0-0 it was. Very dull and I gave up on them soon after.

Some time later I jumped on the Liverpool bandwagon when they were winning everything. It felt good in a weird kind of way but was no match for the real thing.

I had a mate who went to Middlesex Poly and I visited on occasion back in my student days. He went to see Chelsea on occasion. I went, too, a couple of times. When pushed to opt for a "big club" I went for them. Again in a very half-hearted kind of way. That died a death when they came down here and beat us 1-0 a while back. Hated it. Didn't like them much and since then there has been the Abramovich factor which taints them as pariahs, obviously.

I've even been to see Torquay a few times in some of their "big" games. I was there when the police dog bit Jim McNichol, it happened a few yards away from me, and I celebrated Derek Dawkins' late goal and helped carry him shoulder high from the pitch!! All more in jest than seriousness though.

Foreign teams? Had a cracking time in Amsterdam once. Followed Ajax for a bit. Sort of. Bought a club t-shirt while I was over there but when it fell apart that was that.

I've seen Malaga play a couple of times, look out for their results on occasion but not religiously. They got relegated from the Primera Liga last year so not much joy to be had there.

Other sports? Again I've dabbled. Went to college and lived in Gloster for a while. Watched the rugby team a few times. Not really for me. Similar sort of thing with Albion. I hope they win but am not really bothered either way.

I've got a mate who plated basketball for the Raiders. Nearly went once or twice but never actually did.

Where is all this heading? Well I've got a sneaking admiration for Middlesbrough. Can't help it but they are growing on me. I used to work with a Boro fan and he was dead keen and always optimistic (there's a lesson there for us all) even though they were pretty rubbish and had never actually won anything. He used to enthuse wildly about them getting to the Simod Cup Final, of all things, and hardly ever mentioned that they actually lost. In fact like us they had never actually won anything. In fact worse than us I don't think they have even ever won a lower league title (whereas we have loads of 'em...).

Until recently that is.

When you look at their recent past it just goes to show that you never know what is around the corner. They were all but dead in the water and locked out of Ayresome Park I seem to recall. Didn't they re-invent themselves in one of those corporate con jobs just to survive?

Still not long later and under the guidance of Steve Gibson they have a state of the art stadium, premiership football, good local youngsters coming through, stability at management level, a few yo-yo years but some good cup runs, European football, the excitement surrounding Ravanelli and Juninho (amongst others) and even a trophy at long last.

Their manager got poached by England, probably to the benefit of all concerned, except perhaps England, and they have appointed Gareth Southgate as manager and given Gibson's track record of standing by his man and supporting him no matter what then I'd say Southgate has taken the best job he possibly could to start his managerial career.

To top it all tonight they thrashed Chelsea 2-1 which can only be a good thing no matter how you look at it.

Still in a "tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be" kind of way I'm supporting Boro and officially out myself as having a "favourite other team". My heart isn't really in it and it won't last, of that I'm certain, but I do admire them for what they have done, what they have overcome and for where they have come from.