It was a night like any other night really. I was at home with the family. Spurs were playing on the radio in the background. I’m a little anxious, as I always am when my team plays. I’m particularly anxious tonight as we’ve (yes, they are a part of me), have been on a bad run and we’re currently losing 1-0 against Championship side, Nottingham Forest. (For non-football fans, this is a potential upset).
My eleven-year old son, who is, by coincidence, also supporting Spurs, is looking downcast. He gets up from the sofa and starts kicking a soft ball we have lying around in the lounge room. After a few minutes, he turns to me and says,’ Daddy, can I tell you a secret?’ My son rarely says these words, so a thousand thoughts race through my mind as to what he was about to divulge. Could it be his first girlfriend? Did he catch his Mum with the neighbour? Did he want to gently break it to me that my cooking was awful? It was a tense moment as he looked up at me and said, ‘Dad, I’ve decided to support Chelsea.’
I think my face probably turned the colour of Tottenham’s home shirt at that point. (For non-football plans, we play in white). How could this be? I’ve taken him to games. He’s got Gareth Bale’s autograph (before he jumped ship). I have bought him several Spurs shirts over the years. We’ve even started going to the pub together, like proper men, to watch the games on a Sunday. (For non-football fans, Super Sunday).
And now in our hour of need, he’s turning his back on my life-long love, his life-long love and supporting a team that just happens to be top of the league? What about all those hours of brain-washing I put in? Does that count for nothing?
I had read somewhere that by the age of seven; a child will be supporting a team that they will stick with for the rest of their life. In my case, this wasn’t true. Ironically, I supported Nottingham Forest when I was young, as I lived in the area and they happened to be quite good in the late seventies and early eighties. However, that all changed at the age of twelve, when I watched Spurs and Man.City in the 1981 FA Cup Final. I had no geographical connection to the team. I just fell in love, there and then, on the spot and my love, though battered and bruised, has never wavered.
My son may well come back to the fold or I might have lost him forever. It’s out of my control now. But sooner or later he’s going to want his pocket money back and I’m guessing that’s sooner, rather than later.