I sat on my couch soon after the United States’ loss to Ghana in the World Cup, wondering what to do next. Despite knowing little to nothing about football, I had devoted myself completely to the team’s emotional World Cup run, and I couldn’t just wait for Brazil in four years. So I opened up my laptop and pulled up the 2009-10 Premier League table, intent on finding a team. Little did I know that this near-random picking of a name would have a large impact on the next nine months of my life.
I wanted to avoid the “Big Three” because that would make me a bandwagoner; Manchester City seemed too much like the New York Yankees so they were out. However, I at least wanted a team that would be on TV occasionally and fight for a Champions League spot, so my choices came down to Liverpool, Everton, and Tottenham. From there I eliminated Liverpool (too strange a situation) and was left with Everton and Tottenham. Not knowing anyone outside World Cup players, I chose Everton due to having more people I knew and liked, such as Tim Howard, Yakubu, Tim Cahill, and, ironically, Steven Pienaar.
From there my focus turned to learning as much as I could about the club and its players. After reading countless articles about the team, I went into the opener at Blackburn confident in our chances to challenge for the Champions League. As August turned to September without a league win, these hopes started to be revised to Europa League qualification. But a strange thing happened as I continued to watch every minute of these disappointing results: I became extremely loyal to Everton. Their pain was my pain, but their joy was also mine. I was practically delirious at the comeback draw against Man United and the dominating 2-0 win over Liverpool. Despite not knowing anyone from either the red or blue side of Liverpool, I hate Liverpool with a passion and to take four points from them has been one of the highlights of the season.
I have even become familiar with much of Everton’s history. Despite the fact that I had not even been born, much less become an Everton supporter, I’m somewhat annoyed that England’s European ban denied Everton’s chance at the European Cup title. Multiple viewings of Everton’s penalty kicks win over Man United at Wembley (2008-09 FA Cup semifinal) gave me even more of an appreciation of the team’s epic win over Chelsea.
Looking back at my pick of a Premier League team in July, logic states that I made a poor decision. Tottenham plays an electric style of football with likable players and a thrilling run in Europe. They have more money, a bigger and newer stadium, and more points in the table than Everton. A Tottenham fan would not have had to watch the atrocity that was the FA Cup match between Everton versus Reading, which is a plus unto itself.
But I have no regrets as I can’t imagine rooting for anyone but Everton. Tottenham doesn’t have the grit of a Tim Cahill or the brilliance of a David Moyes (yes, he still has my full support.). They don’t have the undying support of fans who always sing their support in the old but beautiful Goodison Park. They don’t have the perfect atmosphere that is Arteta and Howard and Coleman walking out to Z Cars on a mid afternoon in Merseyside. Tottenham are simply not my team.
In the era of the Internet, home loyalties are not as important. As a seventeen year old in Florida, I am a diehard supporter of my hometown Buccaneers American football team, but I am not limited by my town. If I want to pick an English football team, I can pick whoever I want and have their games available to me. Money and school have prevented me from going to see the Toffees in action, but this does not make me less of a supporter when I have been able to watch nearly every match. We are in an era where you can pick your team rather than the other way around, and if that offers times like I have had with Everton, it is certainly a good thing.