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The Freedom of 'Glory Hunting'

Friday 24th June 2011
My team chosen team as a youngster was and still is, Manchester United. Yes, I am from the south and yes it was a while before I got to see them in person. I own a number of United shirts and am often criticised for supporting a team a few hundred miles north of where I live.

"Why don't you support West Ham? Or Spurs? Palace? Or Charlton? Even Arsenal would be better than Man Utd," is a sentiment that has stuck with me ever since it was first launched my way during my school years. As I got older I revisited this argument over and over again and now whenever anybody says something similar I just looked at them and say "Why? They aren't local teams either". I am not a Londoner, I was born in Dartford, Kent and raised a couple of miles down the A2 in Gravesend like many of my classmates.

Many people follow their family members in which team to support. Parents groom their children by dressing them in their own team's colours, making sure they followed 'the right path'. Not mine, though. Mum hates football and Dad has more of a general love for the game rather than nailing his colours to the mast. Except when it comes to England, then he's a lunatic. He still isn't over the World Cup in South Africa, or the Hand of God and you should have seen him when Stuart Pearce stepped up to take a penalty in 1996. Of course, the significance of that was lost on an 8 year-old.

My Dad gave me the freedom to choose my own team. As a kid you don't examine a map, look for the most logical team to support, you go for the most appealing team. Had I been born in the 70s I would probably be a Liverpool fan, mid-90s then an Arsenal fan, but I wasn't. I was born late in 1987 and started taking an interest in football right around the time that Ryan Giggs guy was flying around the pitch and Eric Cantona was flying around the stands, so I chose them. And I stand by that choice.

I have countless friends that support Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham. All of which have parents that support the exact same team. I may be a southerner and I sure as hell don't have a season ticket, but when I hear the chants of, "You only live round the corner" and, "We support our local team", I just laugh. No-one would bat an eyelid if I was an Everton fan or a Newcastle fan, because they haven't been successful in a very long time.

I have no doubt that my friends follow their teams just as avidly as I do mine, perhaps even more so. But, if in about five, 10, maybe 20 years into the future when Man Utd spend time in the wilderness of no silverware (however unlikely that might be), I will still wear their colours and support whatever players are turn out. Because they're my team, and I and I alone chose them to be.
Rob Hayes

Total articles: 4

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