Being a Manchester United fan came too easy to me; I was so young with no real knowledge of football, other than being taken to DC games at RFK in the summers. But when I saw David Beckham my world changed. That was it. U-N-I-T-E-D, United are the team for me. Granted I was just shy of 14 and was thinking mostly with my eyes but in that club I found a passion I couldn’t muster for any other sport I had followed up until that point.
Now 14 years later I’m surrounded by so many friends with so many different club affiliations I’m getting a colossal “seven year itch”. I just fell in love with United so young that maybe I did myself a disservice of not looking around before I settled down. One of my favorite quotes from Nick Hornby and I’m paraphrasing here: “Be very careful when you pick your team because it’s for life”. And I have taken this to heart, which is why I’m struggling these days.
My story as I tell people is the following: Beckham brought me and Giggs kept me. That was it plain and simple, but there are some teams I’ve given hard side-eye to. I’ve flirted with other teams and I will never leave United but it’s still nice to see who’s out there.
I had a brief spell where I followed Fulham quite closely, but that was because I was in London and not far from Craven Cottage. It was also very much ‘Ful-America’ at that time. I adored Bocanegra, Dempsey, and McBride so it felt rather patriotic seeing them play.
I’ve even had a fling with Everton, by way of my dear Londoner who visits every year for a few months. She became and still is one of my favorite drinking companions, so I sat next to her in the pub through many Blues matches. And dear Ticking Tim didn’t make me feel so bad about rooting for them.
Which brings us to the present; I’ve got a crush on Aston Villa. To be fair I’ve always liked them. Young, Agbonlahor, and Milner were staples in my fantasy teams over the years so I have a pre-established relationship. Plus I have to say the claret and blue are mighty fine colors. The truth is a lot of this rests on the
shoulders of Andi Weimann. Yes, he is handsome and young, but watching him play is phenomenal. Seeing a player come into their own and find their feet (so to speak) is one of the most amazing things about this sport. But not just him, there’s that same zest with Christian Benteke. They play with their hearts every single game. These two are developing into tremendous players that can only get better from this point on. I hope for Villa’s sake that they’re able to hang on to them; they’ve become a life force to their season.
Maybe I’ve just become too jaded supporting a team where I’m rarely surprised these days, and if I am it’s not a good one. I’m not complaining about winning or regaining the title by any means, I’m just saying for me a little bit of the luster is gone. It’s been really nice getting a spark from other teams this year and Villa has reminded me why I started watching in the first place. They have reignited a love for the game that hasn’t been this strong in ages. Perhaps I shouldn’t feel guilty about liking another team, but I just don’t think I’ll be able to proudly fly anything other than red and white. But I will smile, cheer, and tip my hat to those teams and players who make watching a little more entertaining.