These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING

Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division match v Rothwell Town. We beat the team second in the table 4-1 in front of 245 happy fans (ok, maybe not the 5 Rothwell fans that made the journey).


All football fans ask ourselves occasionally why do we bother. Spending time and money watching our team put us through agony. A long trip home after a dismal defeat in the freezing cold. I have had the football blues over years, but nothing compared to Match of the Day and One Show presenter Adrian Chiles. After reading his book ‘We don’t know what we’re doing’ which follows his team West Bromwich Albion during yet another relegation from the Premiership, you see that the love for his team is clearly doing him no good. At one point in his book Gordon Strachan complains bitterly about his miserable Match of the Day companion, but over time is dragged down to Chiles level!
But this book isn’t all star studied, but about the ordinary fan and the reason why people support a club. It’s more than just watching a football match. As Chiles points out, do you get the same outpouring of emotion at say the theatre? ‘I’m on coach number one of sixteen, and as we pull away from the Hawthorns, I fell suddenly, unashamedly, profoundly emotional. Being abroad one of this fleet fosters a special sense of belonging.’ One woman who works for a law firm has hardly missed a game in 40 years ‘People sometimes say I’m mad, but what do they get excited about? Shopping?’ The book is built round these characters. The bloke who drags himself from his hospital bed to games. The couple who name their son Albion. The football mad Vicar. Chiles tells of one Albion supporters who now lives in a little fishing village in New Zealand. ‘I was really passionate. It was a massive part of my life. Life used to be dictated by the Albion schedule. My wife used to get really fed up with it. She’s happier now. I’m happier now – my life is better. It’s better because this is a great place to live but it’s also because I’m so far away from the Albion.’ Another supporter who tells him how he came late to the Albion, incurs the wrath of one puzzled fan. ‘I don’t know how he let it happen to him. It’s like smoking, if you start when you’re a kid, fair enough. But if you start when you are order, we’ll you know the dangers…’
As he watches Albion lose again, one of his non footballing friends he has dragged along, asks him ‘why do you put yourself through this.’ Chiles even enlists a psychiatrist to see if football fans are in fact insane. A question we have all been asked by our partners or people who don’t like football. But reading this book, with all the banter, friendships, day outs, also gives the answer to that question. Infact his non footballing mate commented on the community spirit. “I was jealous of that. Because it was just like extended family, and more than that, there’s a huge range of people you meet. And that’s a very rare opportunity to meet different people. To have those kind of relationships, I’m genuinely jealous of that.”
If you’re looking for a present for someone this Christmas then I totally recommend this book.

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