This weekend I started an affair.
I wasn’t expecting to do so and I hadn’t planned on doing so.
If I’m being honest with myself, the signs had been there for a while. This was no flash-in-the-pan relationship. No one-night-stand. The seeds had been sewn some time ago. This relationship had developed right under my nose but it was only now that I realise what had been going on.
You see, I’m a West Ham fan but this weekend, completely out of nowhere… I started to cheer for Manchester City.
It was Sunday afternoon, Arsenal we’re playing City and Aguero had picked up the ball near the halfway line with a clear run on Petr Cech’s goal and the closer he got to the net the quicker my pulse raced. As the keeper closed in on the Argentine’s attack and Kevin De Bryne rushed past on an overlapping run, I stood up shouted: “Pass it” before feeling that familiar disappointment of a missed opportunity.
He didn’t pass. There was no goal. But this was a watershed moment. What had I done? I felt dirty.
At this point, it would have been easy to write off my enthusiasm as fantasy football loyalty; Aguero is my captain and a double-points assist would be a most welcome start to the season but I knew, deep down, that this was more. When I felt a similar rush when Bernardo’s swept in his top corner winner my worst fears were realised… I had cheated on my football club.
I guess some people might call this glory-hunting and they would probably be right. I’ve never experienced anything close to a trophy win as a fan and it’s no shock that I would crave that feeling. In fact, I could try and explain away my new found relationship with various excuses: I live in Manchester, I’ve worked for the club, many of my friends are City fans and I’ve probably watched City play more in the last 3 years than I have my own team. All good excuses but, in reality, I think I have just been swept away by the beautiful football being played at the Etihad and the story of Man City’s resurgence.
There is something very special happening in East Manchester right now. Some would argue that last season’s “Centurions” felt like an endpoint but to me, it feels like the beginning. A Footballing dynasty taking hold the likes of which hasn’t been seen in this country for many years and something that will change the face of football in the English league.
It’s also hard to ignore the recent investment of City in the city too. The club owners putting cash into much-needed infrastructure and people in the region. In short, whilst the Red side of Manchester remains the club that many people love to hate, the “noisy neighbours” are trying their hardest to be the good guys of English football (with the exception of some questionable transfer dealings maybe). As any Tinder-user will tell you… good looks and a good personality are a killer combination.
It’s not even as if I’m disappointed with my lot either. As a West Ham fan, I’ve got plenty back home. “Her indoors” isn’t a dowdy housewife just yet. In fact, over the summer, she’s just spent a load of money on a brand new wardrobe and a bit of cosmetic work here and there but there is something irresistible about Manchester City right now. I challenge any football fan not have their head turned by the sexy football on display and a bit of tiki-taka in the stationary cupboard.
This is all quite new to me right now and I don’t know what I’ll do from here. I’m not about to leave my current club, that’s just not an option, but can I give in to my urges and become a “two-club fan?” Surely that will make me the most hated of all football supporters? A laughing stock! The kind of person who has “Supports Liverpool AND Everton” on their Twitter profile? For now, City will probably remain my “bit on the side.” A brief infatuation. An occasional exciting rendezvous on a Sunday afternoon.
I may be a turncoat, a glory hunter and it may have felt a little wrong but DAMN, it felt good.
Jim is the man behind On The Left Side: The Funny Football Show. You can hear his latest ramblings on the week’s football action here: