Others may swoon, but I’ll never love Man City
I wonder how many people will now become Man City fans. Young, impressionable persons, knowing no better, will fall in love, saying that there has never been a better English team, forgetting that only half an hour ago we were all drooling over Arsenal: the unbeatables, a joy to watch, this
is the future of English football, up yours, Barça.
For years after Liverpool's wonderful 1980s team had ceased to be a power, if you travelled across Germany or Holland, you would see lads aged about 30 carrying rucksacks adorned with the handwritten names of their Liverpool heroes. By the same milk token, a generation of Man United fans all over the world will carry on loving them long after Fergie has scoffed his last bottle of finest red.
I took up following Spurs because they impressed me at an impressionable time, when I first came to London, though, of course, inheriting a love for a team with your mother's or father's milk is the single most important reason for supporting one. There are, however, other trivial, illogical and potty explanations why we can still harbour a soft spot for certain other teams.
I want Wolves to do well for the simple reason that I once spotted Mick McCarthy on a plane to Barbados. He turned out to be staying near my hotel at Cobblers Cove. I met him in the local fisherman's bar and had an evening with him. Decent sort of cove, I thought, and I've naturally rooted for him ever since.
Newcastle United: loads of people like them and enjoy the Geordie crowds, their continual uselessness - but I look out for their result because they were the first big club that I ever watched, when I was a student down the road at Durham.
Stoke City and Swansea: I follow both for the Carlisle connection. One has Rory Delap, ex-CUFC, still wiping his balls, and the other has Danny Graham, scoring at last.
Being a Beatles fan and feeling warm towards the city, I follow Liverpool, though it always saddened me that none of the Beatles was interested in football. When they were working on the Sergeant Pepper cover, supposedly lining up their all-time heroes, I suggested that they should have a footballer. They picked Albert Stubbins, an ex-Liverpool player, purely because John thought his name was funny.
Aston Villa: what I like about them is their strip. I can see why Prince William and David Cameron, chaps of awfully good taste and breeding, always put their team down as Villa. I'm sure it's because of that ever so pretty claret-and-blue combination.
Blackburn Rovers: they were Alfred Wainwright's favourite team. Right to the end of his life, when he could hardly see, he would get the train down from Kendal to Ewood Park to watch them. I also like how Blackburn, along with Bolton Wanderers, West Brom, Wolves, Everton, all now struggling in the Prem, were among the 12 founder members of the Football League in 1888. I watch their progress, hoping they'll survive.
Wigan are arrivistes - no history, really - but I have a passing history with the town. In 1958, I joined the Manchester Evening Chronicle as a Kemsley Newspapers graduate trainee, which was a laugh, as there was no training.
I was then interviewed about a job in South Africa. They were expecting a bloodbath and needed a young reporter on the spot. I didn't get it. Instead, I was sent to Wigan, where I spent three months on the local edition of the Chron. Happy days. Not. But I liked Wigan.
QPR I quite like because I did an interview with Rodney Marsh when I was on the Sunday Times. Tony Armstrong-Jones was the photographer and we persuaded Rodney to have his photo taken in the shower bollock naked.
Tony set up his lights. Rodney came off the training pitch, walked straight into the shower, turned the water on - and it all steamed up. We couldn't see a thing.
Fulham and Norwich, they do nothing for me. With Arsenal, I like my friends to be happy. Chelsea, I don't like. I do hold a small candle for Man United, not because of my time in Manchester but because I ghosted Dwight Yorke's and Wayne Rooney's autobiogs. Neither a totally successful experience, but it did make me feel vaguely connected. Man City? Personally, I'm not bothered, either way . . .
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