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How I Fell In And Out Of Love With Chelsea

3764175860 6cfd73d34c How I Fell In And Out Of Love With Chelsea

I recently read the EPL Talk article ‘How I Fell in Love with Everton FC.’ As I read the article, it reminded me of my own story of discovering English football – a similar experience to that of the author, yet with an entirely different result.

I grew up playing the game in Texas (my claim to fame being that I was in the same league as Clint Dempsey), where youth soccer is very popular but American football reigns king. And while I had a passion for playing the sport, I was completely unaware of professional soccer outside of my local indoor Dallas Sidekicks (featuring the great Tatu) and the poster of Jurgen Klinsmann that hung on my bedroom wall. I had heard of teams like Manchester United and Liverpool, but even 15 years ago access to Premier League football in the States was much harder to come by.

And so as my playing career fizzled after high school, I eventually lost touch with the game. I would enjoy watching the occasional World Cup match, but that was the extent of my interest for some years. Until one day in late 2008 when I was bit by the football bug once again. I call this my football re-awakening.

I wish I could pinpoint a game or a film or a player that sparked this renewed interest, but I can’t. It truly was as simple as waking up and realizing how much I missed the sport I once loved. Regardless, I emailed an old friend, and former teammate, informing him of my intentions. He suggested that the easiest way to familiarize myself with the professional game would be to select a team to follow for the remainder of the season.

And so I decided, much like the author of the aforementioned article and many other new American fans, that I would simply pick a team to call my own. This would have to be an English team, as I was most familiar with those teams and their squads, not to mention we basically spoke the same language (although I still don’t understand about 5% of what’s said during an English broadcast). From there, it would have to be one of the top three or four teams so that I would have regular access to them on American TV. So I narrowed it down to Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. Hardly original I know.

After reading up on the teams, their players, their histories and their fans, it basically came down to two very random factors: I’ve been to London a couple of times, and I like the color blue. Therefore, Chelsea would henceforth be my team.

In the weeks that followed, I dove in head first. I bought a Chelsea shirt. Ordered the special television package so that I could watch every match. Studied up on the squad and pledged allegiance to the Blues. What happened next surprised even me. I genuinely fell in love with the game all over again.

Pretty soon I was waking up at 6am to watch Blackpool play Wolves. I was recording Italian games to watch late at night while my wife slept. I read books and scoured web sites to learn all that I could about the sport. And then one day on an American fan site for Chelsea, I saw a post that was too good to be true. In a pre-season friendly, Chelsea would play Mexico’s Club America at the Dallas Cowboys home stadium – not 30 minutes from my home.

And so I purchased the best seats I could find. Ordered the newest shirt (that hideous navy jersey with the light blue hoops) and counted down the days. The week of the match, Carlo Ancelotti and Michael Essien held a fan summit at a local pub where I got pictures with both and with the FA Cup. What a thrill! On match day I arrived early and waited with anticipation as the stadium filled.

After what seemed an eternity, the team emerged. Not 50 feet from me were John Terry, Frank Lampard and Peter Cech. All around me were Blues fanatics with flags waving and faces painted. And it was at that moment that I realized it was all a sham. For me at least.

Don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled to be there in that moment. But really no more excited than I would  have been to see United, Barcelona, or Inter Milan (as I did this past summer). I realized that day that, while I loved the sport more than I ever had before, my self-professed love affair with Chelsea rang hollow. In fact, if I was being honest, there were really things I didn’t like about them.

The point is, you can’t become a fanatical apologist for a team overnight. You can’t manufacture passion for a team based on an arbitrarily made decision. And while I encourage new soccer converts to follow the same path I did and select one team to start with, that path has created a culture of fake soccer fans in America. That’s not to say all American fans are frauds, but rather to suggest that you really can’t become an honest fan of anything overnight – or in nine months as the Everton fan claimed in his piece.

Part of the draw to the English game is the atmosphere that shines through even on the television screen. American soccer fans see passionate supporters singing songs and waving flags and feel an unspoken pressure to imitate. But what many don’t want to realize is that the fans in those sections of the stands didn’t just decide one day to support Arsenal. They didn’t use flash cards to memorize the songs. It’s who they are. It’s where they’re from. It’s part of them. It’s natural.

And so I’ve decided to accept my soccer reality, which is that I can love the sport without loving a team. There will always be a special place in my heart for Chelsea, as they helped rekindle my passion for the game. But why can’t I also enjoy rooting for Tottenham on their Champions League run? Why can’t I also pull for Fulham or Wolves or Blackpool or (dare I say it) United on a given Saturday? It may be heresy in England, but I’m not in England. This is Texas!

Some people will say that I’m not a real fan. And maybe I’m not. But I can assure you that I love the game as much as anyone. I watch multiple games each week. I’ve read a dozen books on the sport. I watched every 2010 World Cup match (yes, even Algeria-Slovenia). But no, I don’t truly love a team. Should I fake it? Should I memorize the songs and offer loud, insincere support? Isn’t that worse?

American soccer fans need to embrace this bi-partisanship. It’s actually quite freeing to be able to objectively enjoy a sport without blue or red or tangerine colored glasses. It’s nice not losing sleep after your team crashes out of a tournament or missing a penalty to win.

I do hope that one day I’ll bleed blue. Or red. Or whatever color finds me. I hope that I’ll experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows that come with being a die hard fan. But in the meantime, why not enjoy riding the even plane of objectivity? It’s ok not to care once in a while. In fact, what could be more American than that?

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48 Responses to How I Fell In And Out Of Love With Chelsea

  1. Norfolk Enchants says:

    I suppose if I started out as Chelsea supporter I’d be as apathetic as you are. “I like London and I like the color blue so Chelsea is my team”.

    You had it coming to you….

  2. Ibrahim says:

    i grew in Kenya, where most fans are either Man-u or Arsenal.occasionally u will find Chelsea and Liverpool fans. i played the game since a tender age. my dad supports Real Madrid. In 2001 at age 12 i watched Chelsea vs Arsenal and since then i have grown to be a Chelsea fanatic. moved to US IN 2006. I can sincerely say i have only missed less than five Chelsea matches. my place is covered by the mighty blue flags. i own most Chelsea merchandise from Jerseys, underwear, watch, cover.
    all i can say supporting a team is like obsession, it grows consumes you until you become part of it. its the best feeling yet horrifying. i have a lot of respect for real and die hard fans than just soccer or football fans with no loyalty to any team.
    i can proudly say i bleed blue.

  3. JMH says:

    This post makes no sense.

    You talk about how you hope a color will find you but also talk about promoting bipartisanship and saying that you’ll never really be a true fan.

    Picking a team based on color? That’s clownish. I was an American who stopped playing soccer in 3rd grade but discovered my love for soccer when I was about 18. It started with me liking a few players on my team: Defoe and Keane, and eventually one of my favorite players, Berbatov, and now I’m a religious Spurs fan.

    I still pull for Liverpool to figure out their squad, I’d kill to see the other 3 in the Top 4 to not make Champions League. I pull for the Americans on Bolton and Fulham, but never to do anything that hurt my Spurs. I am and will always be a Spurs fan.

    COYS.

  4. Dean says:

    I think your point is valid, you can support a sport without loving a team, when i first got into football i decided to support liverpool because my friend did, but i soon realised that i didnt like them and had no love for them, and then in 1999 i saw chelsea beat the mighty barcelona 3-1 and fell in love with the blues and have supported them ever since. i think you can love the product without lovong the producer, for example you can go to restaurant and love the food but you dont have to love the chef that cooks it.

  5. BradMc says:

    I started following the EPL after seeing a 60 Minutes story on Tim Howard in the middle of the decade. Since he was at Manchester United at the time, that was the first team I followed. I suppose that’s a bit lame, like somebody coming in and liking the New England Patriots in American football. When Howard quickly fell out of favor with Fergie, my allegiance left just as quickly.

    Without actually having a home team, I found that I enjoyed just following the players themselves. I still loved Ronaldo until he left the league. (yeah, I know, he’s a diver :-) And I realized that, for it to stay fun, I needed to follow players like Lampard (my favorite), Berbatov, Howard, and Dempsey – regardless of which side they play for.

    When Donovan was at Everton with Howard, and doing well, I couldn’t get enough of the Toffees. But as soon as Donovan returned to the Galaxy, the love affair quickly went back to neutral.

  6. nc says:

    The words “true fan” get thrown around a lot on this web site. I think it is dumb for one person to tell another how to be a fan. Face paiting, flag waving, and shouting don’t make one person a better fan than another. A genuine interest in a sport manifests itself differently in different people. I was raised in the south on college football. I am die hard. But my love of the sport doesn’t come out in the form of local fan club memberships, closets full of merchendise, blind hate/love when it would apply. Thats not me. But it is some others.

    Sport can’t survive without the bandwagon don’t ever forget that. If you want to be a new fan of a random team, be it Swansea or ManU. Go for it, don’t be ashamed.

  7. RayO says:

    I too randomly chose Chelsea to be my team after watching them play in Pittsburgh on a Champions League tour. I do believe it was Drogba’s first appearance for the Blues. In any event, I bleed Blue for them now but I must admit, they have their warts. Chief among them…John Terry is a total douche. He’s just a bad man.

  8. Nick says:

    I agree with this article for the most part. Ever since I got back into the game a couple of years ago and have become somewhat of a die-hard follower of the EPL, I’ve tried to align myself with a team. It just hasn’t happened yet. I tend to be a fan of the teams who have Americans as part of their squads i.e. Fulham, Everton, Bolton. But I think I just really want to see the game develop more over here and our national team to do well, so naturally I want to see our best players perform well and get that experience in arguably the top league in the world.

    Maybe one day it will just hit me and I’ll grasp on to a club team to follow, but until then I just love watching all of the teams/matches.

  9. Brent says:

    I can appreciate what you’re saying. Following and appreciating the game is different for everyone. I got into the epl in 2007 when my friend invited to watch a match at a nyc pub. By the end of the season I was taking vacation days to watch Chelsea midweek in the champions league. I think it was a combination of the players, manager, and local support in nyc that got me hooked with the club. Since then I’ve attended a match while on my honeymoon (thankfully my wife is a good sport) and had a chance to follow Chelsea stateside on tours.

    While I never miss a Chelsea match I enjoy watching almost any match. I’ve also evolved into an even more passionate usmnt supporter. If you feel like supporting an obscure european club is not “organic,” have you considered supporting your national team and domestic league? I can tell you that celebrating Donavan’s goal after putting the US top of the group this past summer was the top sporting event I’ve ever witnessed in person.

  10. Tuttle says:

    When I was a kid, back in the early 80s, I chose Sheffield Wednesday as my team. Why? Because the name sounded cool to my 12- year-old self. Not a great reason, but it doesn’t matter really. What else did I have to go on? It wasn’t like Schalke, who my dad had become a supporter of when he was serving in Germany and who we got to see on Soccer Made in Germany on occasion (and who I still have much more passion for than any other team), nor, obviously, like a real local team in that I still don’t hate the Blades or even Dortmund with anything like the passion I reserve for loathing the Crimson Tide with.

    However, the Owls were my choice. And, third freakin’ division or not, that’s who I’m sticking with. Which, in its way, is an easy excuse for being a neutral for the past few years in the EPL (especially since neither ShefU nor Leeds are up either).

    • Dave C says:

      I miss having Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest in the premier league – two of the quirkiest names in English football.

    • alabamabob says:

      I knew I liked you tuttle… War Eagle. (although I suspect possible LSU feelings) I fell in Love with Liverpool in 2005… CL final…we all know the story… but from that point on… Including the low points most recently.. I’ve been a Red man. I’ve studied the history, I’m not a buff but I know what I know. You can like a team, but once your in love… like you said, it’s who you stick with.

  11. Nelson says:

    Enjoy reading the comments. My responses are:

    1) Yes, picking a team based on their color and city are ‘clownish’. that’s my point. It’s silly to just arbitrarily select a team that you all the sudden have fals passion for.

    2) I’m not saying that Americans can’t be die hard fans of English club teams. But for Americans who claim to have become the world’s biggest United/Liverpool/etc. fan overnight, there’s no such thing as love at first sight. It’s a process. One in which I hope to eventually really strongly care for a team. Right now though, I don’t.

    • Matt says:

      Nelson, I enjoyed reading your story. I disagree that one cannot love something in a short period of time like 9 months. I view love as a choice, a commitment, a decision; not something one falls in and out of (call me old fashioned). I made a decision to love Everton despite its flaws and I understand that the club will let me down, but I’m OK with that and will love it anyway.

    • Steve says:

      You also claimed it cannot be done within 9 months, which I don’t agree with. It’s equally silly to say that you can’t watch a game neutrally because you have a favorite team. I root on Real Madrid (Ozil) and Tottenham in the Champions League, root for Fulham and Everton in the EPL when they aren’t playing my team, etc. To say it’s so black and white for every person doesn’t make much sense, though I can appreciate and thank you for your story.

      I arbitrarily picked a team at the start of this season and have gradually become a huge fan. I watched tons of matches all season to scope out quite a number of teams but ended up picking correctly from the start. I now have merch, books, fan-site memberships, and every game on my DVR. Just because I’ve never had the fortune of seeing a game in person or being born where the team is doesn’t invalidate my passion or make me any less of a fan.

      I won’t go as far as saying I bleed old-gold, but my new-found passion for football is unquestionable and I wouldn’t change anything about the team I’ve come to love through arbitrarily selection. Besides their spot on the table, anyways.

      Go WOLVES!

  12. Brandon says:

    You can always root for the home team in FC Dallas. And chant “come on Dallas” and “Dallas til i die.” And be totally vindicated by your proximity to the matches, those of which are played at the aptly named Pizza Hut Park. That’s enticing right? I mean they were in the finals and everything…oh nevermind, it’s just not the same. And frankly a little sad.

    You’ll find your team. See you at the Dallas Cup.
    -Dallas Strikers ’79 ( we were so so)

  13. trickybrkn says:

    My first PL match was at the Bridge… Wanted to see Tony Adams and Arsenal, but where sold out on my visit. Chelsea where playing in Div 2 at the time. My dad and I sat and watched in a cold, smelly and half full stadium. There was no love for Chelsea to be found in my heart.

    I then spent many months in Shepherd’s Bush living on Ingersol Road. A stone’s throw from Loftus road and QPR. This was back when the Empire was a bingo hall and half pint’s where 50p, and QPR was in the top flight. Many a Saturday afternoon was spent watching the hoops and then spending the rest of the night at O’Neils… But something odd happened…
    A visiting team came in and its support was so loud and colorful that i had to see them play… Next weekend I ventured out on the Hammersmith and City line with no ticket, and vague warning about violent fans.
    I wandered about following the masses from the tube station to the stadium. Pushed into the local pub, ordered a Stella, and got chatting with a few fans… They got me a ticket in the South Bank. This was the era of terraces, you stood and got moved around by the crowd. Something I was used to from seeing bands but not never at a sporting event. They where playing Chelsea, and it was loud.
    I went back as often as I could, and watched as they where relegated back to the second division.
    When I moved to New York, I relied on news groups, and web pages that seemed to never be updated fast enough…
    Years latter I got Directv. Would pay the 20 bucks for pay per view when my team was on… sometimes even if they weren’t.

    But I never looked back… and I think the real point is, if you like a team that isn’t local, doesn’t have family roots, you have to somehow connect on an emotional level with that club.

    I grew up in Philadelphia, and its a working man’s city, filled with sports teams that seemed to always break your heart… and how could I not fall for a team whose fortune is always hiding…

    West Ham till I die….

  14. Mike says:

    I live in a place where football is a minority game(Cricket is king in India).
    Ever since since i remember walking I’ve always been a Chelsea fan. I dont sleep when they loses important matches especially to United or Barcelona. Im not too crazy about the merchandizes, its hard to find here though i’d love to own every pieces of them ! Im in love with the Club, period ….. I bleed BLUE..
    Chelsea FC forever !!!
    Love from India….

  15. Pakapala says:

    Very interesting article just like the one by that young 9-month old Everton fan. This can be used as a warning to the Everton fan who already claiming to feel so passionate about his new-found team that he “hates” Liverpool FC. It rang hollow for the very reasons you highlited in your piece. I do think that becoming a unflinching fan of a team is a process, not an out of the blue random choice on the internet.
    Like I mentioned in a comment on the other article; when just getting into the game I think it’s best to just follow the leagues as much as you can as neutral, then let your heart be swayed one way or the other. Eventually 1 team will stand out of the lot, and will catch your attention more than the rest. I do not subscribe to the idea of to follow the game one has to first pick a team to root for. We fall in love with the game first then, allegiance to a club/team may follow straight afterwards or may take time and develop overtime. However we all fall in love with the GAME, whether we support 1 team in particular or casually root for different teams (from local summer league to some professional team in another country).

  16. JonesJunior says:

    I thought this was one of the better stories I’ve read on this site and pretty accurate. I follow Paris St. Germain because of my uncle, Benfica because of my mother, and Arsenal & AC Milan because my job affiliations with them. But to be completely honest I just follow the game. I don’t have that same die hard loyalty for PSG that a kid growing up in Paris has. I sometimes even just root for players. I’ll follow Pato wherever he goes, same with Gourcuff, Bale, Dempsey, or any American player.

    I’ll tell you right now though, if the Cosmos become an MLS team I will wave that flag hard because I’m a New Yorker. Unfortunately, even though I love soccer more than most things and much more than American football. I still can’t get as excited for a team winning as I was with the NY Giants winning the Super Bowl. It just means more when it’s where your from.

  17. Clampdown says:

    A fanstastic, refreshingly honest article. I say good for you. You don’t have to have a team.

  18. Oscar Sandhu says:

    Great write Nelson , we all have our reasons for supporting the greatest football team in the world ! Yours is as good as most , you love football , your politics and sex life is blue > end off . Come on the CHELS .

  19. Br says:

    Interesting read! I think American EPL fans should embrace the freedom that comes from being so far away. I’m an avid LFC fan, but I just can’t bring myself to ‘hate’ Everton, for example — seems really artificial to me, particularly because EFC has a good relationship with my favorite MLS team, the Sounders, and they have or have had T. Howard/L. Donovan, etc. Plus, they’re Liverpudlians. It’s a lot easier to truly hate MUFC, but if United were to (for some odd reason) struggle mid-table for a number of years who knows the level of hatred I could honestly feel at that point.

    The internet now allows Americans to get up to speed so much faster than even ten years ago. Youtube is a really good resource to learn the history of the bigger clubs, strange as it is to say. Watching old LFC videos is one of my favorite things to do — seeing the YNWA video of the ’05 Chelsea semifinal or the SkySports summary of the 2005 CL final helped galvanize my early interest in the Reds into passionate support, along with all the videos of the earlier glory days. Because I can’t regularly see the club in person, this is the best I’m going to be able to do — and there hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about the past couple of seasons!

    Youtube and wikipedia can also help Americans get a feel for the history of first division mainstays — I find myself hoping that clubs like Nottingham Forest or Leeds United can find themselves in the Premier League again sometime in the not too distant future, and that clubs like West Ham stay up.

  20. R2Dad says:

    I enjoy watching EPL matches, but am disappointed with the refereeing I see. From my perspective, the FA is giving the fans what they want to watch, but at the same time allowing the physical play to shorten the careers of talented players. The failure of the England national team to win the Euros or World Cup is no surprise to me, given the general wear and tear, lack of winter break, and the fan’s love of the debilitating reducer. The England national team has a structural problem that is too hard to fix. At least with the USMNT we can blame the crap coaching and poor skills, as well as the fact that we’re just glad to make it out of the group stage. You poor English fans still expect to win everything. We’re bound to eventually get better but England, you’re buggered.
    /tangential rant done

    • trickybrkn says:

      what did that have to do with picking a club?

      and half of it is so off target its worrying.

      • R2Dad says:

        yeah, tangents–sometimes they happen. always with the worrying, you new yorkers. i started out:
        thinking about why i support my club =>
        thinking about why i support the league =>
        thinking about how league could be better =>
        which fell straight into my whinge about EPL refereeing.
        my bad. FWIW, I started following Arsenal when I met my wife. 7am saturday mornings in the pub. eggs, tobasco, beer, and the wife–love ‘em to this day!

  21. King Eric says:

    fair play for being honest. some of my friends don’t follow teams for the same reason, but only their favorite players, which makes sense too. my father for instance, the person responsible for introducing to the game as my first word was “ball,” simply loves the sport as a purist and doesn’t follow a particular team or league even. he’ll watch any match that’s on and simply wants to see a good game of football. i admire that he can be unbiased and analyze each match as its own and applaud the better/deserving side, if there is one that is.

  22. tonyspeed says:

    You’re wrong if you think that English fans and fans in general are somehow “born” with a team and that’s who they are. There are English people that like a team juct because they like a team. I know someone that lives in the midlands and supports Chelsea of all teams! Team fandom is not something you inherit. It just happens. Why do I like Manchester United? My friend liked it and then I just fell in love with the team myself after learning more about it. Does that mean I can be a “real” fan because I don’t live near Manchester. No of course not. In fact, city fans will tell you that most Manchester United fans live outside of Manchester. So if you are a fan of open-armed fandom not based on geographic location, Manchester United is the tema for you. Now since you are american, I know you won’t accept that because americans seem to have a fascination with the underdog coming back. In that case, you should be an arsenal fan. Finally, if you like team worship and fans that are a little bit TOO diehard, then you should be a liverpool fan.

    True, watching football period in america is a bit of a “fake” experience. It’s not going to be like it is in England. But, the same can be said of any foreign experience happenin in America. It will always have a slight tinge of fake to it. You just take it as it is and relish the times you do have an opporunity to get the real experience. Love is not about reality. It just happens.

    • R2Dad says:

      I think the worst aspect of american fandom is the pathetic inability to sing and chant…totally unable to create an intimidating environment. I understand torontonians are trying to fix the MLS in this regard, so hat tip to them.

  23. Jason says:

    My love for the EPL didn’t bloom until I picked a team. Everyone is different. Pretty much every Non-English EPL fan picked their team for arbitrary reasons. So what? What about fans of American sports teams? Not every pro sports fan in the U.S. lives in a city or even a state with a Pro team but they somehow find a team to be a fan of. My guess is they used some arbitrary way to pick the team/s they support.

    My friend (RIP),who was a huge Arsenal fan, got me to watch soccer because he knew I was a huge pro sports fan and he knew I’d get into the EPL if I would just give it a chance. I became a Chelsea fan after watching FSC for 2 months and just being drawn to Didier Drogba. After that I absorbed everything I could about the EPL and Chelsea.

    I get so sick of hearing about “true fans” and “glory-hunters”. Every club wants to grow their fanbase. That’s why they do U.S. Tours and Asian Tours, etc. Not every global fan is a British ex-pat.

    It doesn’t matter to me how someone became a fan of a particular EPL team. It’s totally fine to fall in and out of love with a team because it sounds to me you’re heart wasn’t in it in the first place. It sounded like you felt some kind of pressure to pick a team when you weren’t ready. But it’s also totally fine to pick your team for whatever reason. If you fall out of love with your team because they aren’t winning, though, that’s a totally different story. That’s when you prove the UK fans right when the call people “Glory-hunters”.

    By the way, I was also at Trinity Hall for Ancelloti, Essien and the FA Cup and at Cowboys Stadium for the practice on Saturday and the game on Sunday. I had a blast. Can’t wait till I see a match at the Bridge.

  24. Slugs says:

    We all pick teams to follow and love for a variety of reasons. Some do it because of their parents, some because of friends, some because that’s where they they grew up, and then some do it for a color. The last of these I don’t really understand, but who am I to judge? I’m just another one of those American United fans.

    Since it seems like we are all telling our own stories here – I’ll throw my “two cents” in the ring.

    I’ve always loved soccer and watched the World Cup as far back as I could remember but I wanted to see more. This was back around 1998-99 and the MLS was only a couple years old at that point so that wasn’t going to cut it. I worked at the CME in Chicago at the time and a friend originally from Manchester turned me on to United – my first taste was an early season match against Liverpool (2-0 United). There were a few bars in Chicago that showed EPL and various cup matches throughout the season and it was a good excuse to go drink that early in the morning.

    My friend taught me all about the team history, the rivals, the great players, Munich, and and started my man crush on Ryan Giggs.

    I really got into watching some of the Champions League matches as well and we all know what happened with the final that year – so you can figure that I was hooked big time. Then there was that 8-1 win against Nottingham some time in early ’99 (Ole scored 4 goals in the final 12 mins)….

    I can proudly say that I have been a United fan for the better part of the last 11 or so years. All thanks to my buddy Pat from Manchester.

  25. robert says:

    You’re absolutely right. Gotta grow into fandom by watching out of enjoyment unless it’s a family thing or in your home town. Which is why I can’t believe everyone who’s played the game before and watches the epl aren’t Gooners like me. Started out watching Fulhamerica and it became apparent almost immediately who played the most beautiful version of the beautiful game. Sure they got stomped by Barca, but there just is no substitute in the epl for Wenger-style Arsenal. It’s just so damn gorgeous. ‘Course Spurs are playing some good looking football now too, so I’ll record their matches now too, and any team with Americans outside of keepers, and any chelsea/man u matches, and any barca matches… so yes… I agree Mr.Staats. I agree.

  26. James says:

    Good article. I can’t stand seeing poser fans but it’s great that you’d rather be honest and just love the game.

  27. ChicagoBrian says:

    I picked on the EPL and Man U in 2006, so relatively new fan myself and do think it a bit cliche to support them but I can’t stop loving it! I must admit as strange as it sounds watching a team win, and a fanbase demand so much from the team has changed the way I look at my other sports. Big Cubs fan as well and to go from cheering the so called lovable losers to a team with banners that say not arrogant just better is so refreshing and I demand more from my teams for my time and devotion. I know that I watched my Man U last year than Cub baseball and that really is a huge change for me. I Love the fact that winning the league is such a big deal, months of fighting is actually applauded as the top achievement whereas in baseball the best record may not even get you home field advantage in the world series!

    Right now in the US it has never been easier to watch a game with all the coverage too. I know that this season,like the past 3-4, including all competitions I may have missed only one or two games. Also with sites like these and others I know what is happening with the team basically 24/7! I love watching the starlets develop like Da silva’s and Macheda and can’t wait for the next group to make an impact I’m not out to compare myself with the supporters in England, and know when I eventually make it to Old Trafford I may get a funny look or two for being a yank who still calls the sport Soccer, but that doesn’t take away the joy I get watching them play and being a part of something as good as they are! GGMU!

  28. Kody says:

    This and the everton article (as well as the comments following them) have been a good read for me.

    I myself am new to the EPL (my first season really paying attention). while i watched world cup 2006, world cup 2010 was the real firestarter for me; i actually found myself planning on watching soccer the next day or weekend (a phenomenon very new to me ), i really got into it.

    i knew i wanted to watch more. and i kind of eased into it early in the season, since nfl coverage just dwarfs everything here in america. i just caught a few games in the afternoon. from the games i saw, i really grew into liking manchester city; not really sure why, though i know i liked a lot of the players (tevez,yaya touré, joe hart, adam johnson). i remember marveling one day at touré and tevez in particular and i’ve followed city from there out. i realize i can’t be considered a true fan by a lot of your standards, but i’ve followed city with more and more interest as the season has went on.

    this is not new to me. anyone that comes from a town that doesn’t have a team nearby either comes about affiliation with a team based on who their family supports, the teams that are shownon tv in that area, or they pick arbitrarily. i’m fron north carolina and i’ve been a diehard fan of the pittsburgh penguins and denver broncos (picked both based on the players that i liked) since a kid, good times and bad. my point is you have to start somewhere, and america does not have soccer at a high level.

    no one should be offended by outsider americans suddenly picking sides beacuse they want to get into the game (even if it rings a bit hollow). there is no point in being exclusionary about who follows your epl team, it’s ultimately counter to what you want your team to achieve–success.

  29. Michael Fahey says:

    Good piece. Very well written.

  30. Ty says:

    I’m also an American, and also a soccer newbie looking for an EPL team to support. I thought maybe Fulham, because they have my no-question favorite player (Dempsey), a beautiful facility, and have never won anything (not unlike my beloved Lions). However, I kind-of already picked one back when I was 13 . . .

    See, my Uncle took me to a World Cup match in ’94 (Italy/Nigeria); the year after that he sent me back a Liverpool cap from a trip he took to England. I had no idea what it was. When he explained it was an English soccer team, I decided if I ever cared about soccer, I’d root Liverpool.

    Of course, this season started roughly for LFC–and unfortunately, the general impression I got was of the Dallas Cowboys: a hugely popular team with an enormous fanbase, and an expensive, underperforming roster of highly paid me-first guys. However, the return of King Kenny, the magnificent win over Man Utd, and the generally balls-out welcoming I receive from LFC fans in all corners of the Internet is swaying me back to supporting the Reds. I went to the closet to get that old hat–turns out it was made in Detroit! I suppose Detroit and Liverpool share a sort of post-industrial lunch-bucket kinship . . .

    Like you said here, though, I find myself trying to learn the words to You’ll Never Walk Alone and feeling foolish. A fellow Red fan sent me a YouTube clip of the OMG TOTALLY AWESOME Robbie Fowler “snort the goal line” celebration, and . . . well, I didn’t think it was so awesome. I’ll keep trying, but I can see myself going back to ‘neutral with a few favorites’–at least until Detroit gets an MLS team.

    Peace
    Ty

  31. Andy C says:

    I love your honesty. I’m a Chelsea fan born and bred (grew up 4 miles from Stamford Bridge). I fell in love with Chelsea in 1982 when I was taken to my first game at the delapidated old stadium. I remember coming up the stairs and seeing the pitch and that was it. Love at first sight. And nearly 30 years later I sit back in that same section, albeit a bit swankier than it used to be, and I still have my season ticket despite living in the US for 7 years now. And I could never figure out how fans could get so emotionally attached to a team with absolutely no connection. To me, it’s the same as when the Yankees have 000s of Japanese fans, or when Liverpool claim to have a global fanbase of 2mn.

    So, I loved your article. And the next time you are in London I would love for you to use my season ticket to go to Stamford Bridge so you can fall in love all over again, and reset your devotion to the Chels.

    CAREFREE

    • Nelson says:

      Thanks for the response. And I don’t have plans to travel to London any time soon, but I would love to see a game at the Bridge. Never been, but hopefully someday!

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