A small explanation of my schizophrenic Twitter feed with apologies – and reverence – to Nick Hornby who was doing this sort of stuff years ago, much, much better.
A bit of a history lesson is needed. When I was a young man I was a Brighton fan and an Old School one at that. I stood on the terrace behind the goal with my mates and I went to every away game I could and it was fun. Or at least it was until the finances at the club started to unravel and a “Foul Politician and A Man From Lancashire” (copyright the mighty Booney) sold the ground and nearly killed the club. Luckily, at the last minute the club was rescued by a very nice man with not much money called Dick Knight. The ground was gone though so we groundshared in Kent for a bit before coming back home to play in an athletics stadium. An uncovered one with terrible views and very few seats. Still I got a season ticket and became Old School only in the seats on the side. If we lost I was inconsolable all weekend. Meanwhile Brighton were not getting planning permission for their new ground.
Then something happened that meant I wouldn’t be a season ticket holder at all. I was offered a project in my company’s Asia Pacific division and we grasped the nettle and moved to Sydney. Then Tokyo. Then Taipei. And I had the best four and a bit years of my childless life. Football played a small part still as I became 5th choice Centre Back for the reserves of a crazy Expat drinking club football team but I was no longer a regular on the terraces or in the seats.
Then we did something immensely stupid wonderful and decided to have a child and when we succeeded we moved home so he could be born somewhere where the midwives spoke English. I know. Overprotective first time parents eh? And Brighton did not have their new ground but I did have my new son and I enjoyed playing with him much more than sitting in the rain watching Andrew Whing kick lumps out of people. Bad fan. I went from time to time, usually the first and last games of the season and a few of the mid-weeks but I did not have a season ticket and to all intents and purposes I was a raving lunatic father and not a football fanatic.
Then we got planning permission for the ground. And a very nice man with shitloads of money called Tony Bloom paid for it. I joined the bandwagon, the Johnny Come Lately army (or more Johnny Came Back) and got a season ticket and this season I started to Go Again Properly. I look forward to my Amex Stadium Saturdays like I used to look forward to birthdays. I leave as soon as permitted and meet my childless friends and we talk Man Nonsense and drink real beer. My football mates have been friends through thick and thin bound by a love of the team, proper beer, silly japes and a disregard for bullshit. Then I go to the ground and meet my Very Best Friend Of All who has 3 boys and not a shred of bullshit and we spend a couple of hours shouting, singing, clapping and swearing (particularly me). Then I have a swift half with the others after and go home. And all the stress of work, commuting, sleepless nights, Lego retrieving and Baby locating have gone, washed away in to the Amex ether.
And because it does I come home these days having left the result behind if we lost, happy to be a parent again, looking forward to Middle Class Sunday. Which is a post for anther time entirely.