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How Did You Find Who You Support? & The Search For Credibility


Following up from an earlier article I’d like to pose a question to all the non ex-pat North American readers of EPL Talk: How Did You Find Who You Support?

It’s ultimately a broad question that has more potential answers to it than current injury concerns at Liverpool. But I believe the question sparks an interesting debate as Americans are still searching for their place in world football. When I first got this idea (by divine intervention), I realized it may only apply to a very select (but elite) group of people. For those born in the United Kingdom or thereabouts, you had it a bit easier than us across the pond. It’s likely you started supporting the Arsenal from the womb, or Chelsea by the end of your first year of life. However, could you imagine a life where you started supporting a football club at 12?, 15? 18? or even 23?

For readers of EPL Talk who share the same generation as I do, you may relate to a similar footballing background. If you’re American, it’s highly likely you’ve been supporting a football club no longer than you’ve been able to drive, don’t worry, everyone’s welcome. If you’re 25-35 years of age & are a passionate football supporter it’s possible you took the same road I did. Let me take a wild guess:

  • Step 1- You were introduced to the sport of Soccer at a very young age, probably 6 or 7 playing in your local youth organization. This was the Soccer our society often perceives when they hear the very word. A world of Moms, minivans, unlimited substitutions, lawn chairs, fair play, 14 year old referees & oranges. This is where I got my “start”, this is where the seed was planted. These were my formative years.
  • Step 2-World Cup ’94 and ’98. I was 13 at the time of World Cup ’94 and the yonder days of the Palm Bay Youth Soccer Association were dead and buried (enter Little League Baseball and Youth Basketball – these were the sports I was “supposed” to play -by switching-over, I was able to pick a hero and role model to emulate, I could follow his every step). The savior of the casual soccer supporter is the World Cup, we all know this, but having the tournament held in your own back yard really did make an impression on us all those years ago. Here was a new world that we kind of thought we knew about. We were that much closer to the obsessive ideas we have about football these days when World Cup ’94 and ’98 where at the forefront of our lives. The World Cup and it’s coverage on television in the 90’s was the bridge from our innocent days in youth soccer to the spoiled-every-match-at-our-fingertips landscape of the present day. But when the Cup ended, it was another few years lost in the sea of MLB, NFL & NBA.
  • Step 3-The toughest and most random of the steps. You’re possibly in college by this point or a young adult. You’ve no real way of developing this passion you once had, gone are the days of Youth Soccer, the World Cup’s a few years off, and something turns your head. What was it? It’s different for everyone, but if you’ve experienced it, you know the impact that this something can have. You stumble upon this odd channel on your cable or satellite dish that’s playing this odd game featuring two teams you think you might know at an even more odd time. This something could have been a specific player, style of play, cultural reference, or even the color of the team. You remember, “hey, I like this Soccer stuff”. It’s these incredible little things that tip us over the edge. Simplistic, unique variables that reconnect us with the beautiful game. Then you think to yourself, “where was I before this?”

Once caught, it takes hold of you like a cancer spreading to various facets of your life. You spend all your time immersing yourself in tactics, history & the like. You become obsessed with it in the pursuit for one last final piece of the football supporters life,…..


The chase is over, you’ve now found your purpose in life. Few things will ever beat that stoppage time goal that was scored to secure a much needed 3 points for your club. For the events that will – well, you’ve secured those away for your wildest dreams. But in this (new to some of us) world of competitive European football, how can we really claim to be credible football supporters who are so far away from our team’s local grounds? How will our voice ever be heard stateside while so many other sports dominate our culture?

I’ll leave those last two questions for you to work out on your own, but remember, credibility is awarded to yourself, from yourself and by yourself. No football fan out there is better than the next. The bloke who bangs the cowbell at Portsmouth is no better or worse a supporter than you. If you truly have a sense of pride and passion for your club then you’ve arrived. It’s at this point you can stand up and scream I’M A FOOTBALL SUPPORTER, HEAR ME ROAR!!

Take pride in this game and enjoy your football.

(Feel free to leave a comment or two explaining how you found the club you support)

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  1. Ryan

    November 10, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    This is a GREAT post!

    I played soccer in middle school and high school. In college, when none of us were ever really good enough to play for a university or college, we organized midnight matches at closed parks, indoor soccer matches and competed in 5 v 5 tournaments and the like.

    And then, somewhere along the way, it just kind of stopped.

    Turning 25 this year, I recently took a trip to Argentina to visit a friend (whom I played high school ball with). On my last full day there, I was invited to play some footy underneath an old overpass. 6 v 6. I was the only Gringo American there. Having NOT planned for such an event, all I had for boots were Chuck Taylors. I was a hot mess, slipping and sliding around, out of shape and skills lost. I was the worst player within the 5 mile radius. Easily.

    Trying to save some face, I volunteered to goalkeep, which ended up a success. My reflexes have always ben very quick. Teammates and the opposition were kind, understanding my situation and background.

    This trip to Argentina, being surrounded by new friends that loved FOOTBALL and actually getting a chance to compete against a crowd of internationals(Argentine, German, English, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, etc.) was my moment. Taking that trip to Argentina (for more reasons than just football), was one of the best decisions of my life. The people, culture and everything. Now, when I catch any UEFA or EPL matches on FSC it reminds me of all the people across the world I met in Argentina. Their dedication to their teams, their love for life and their friendliness. Since then, Saturdays and Sunday mornings aren’t just about Football, they’re about FOOTBALL.

    My renewed interest has sent me to the park looking for pickup games, getting back in playing shape and working on my footwork again. After 7 months or so, it’s time to pick a EPL team, and I’m having the hardest time. How do you randomly pick a team? Raised a Detroit Lions fan for the NFL, it was never an option. I’ve read so many articles, heard so many opinions. For now, I consider Liverpool, Tottenham and Aston Villa to be the front runners.

  2. Brandon

    November 10, 2009 at 11:43 am

    You know what really got me and lot of my friends on the Soccer bandwagon was the FIFA series. I was familiar with a few teams basically Manchester United and maybe Real Madrid before. Just because of David Beckham because that seemed to be the only person talked about in US. So I ended up picking up FIFA ’05 and had heard about Arsenal winning the Premier League undefeated the year before and kind of gravitated toward them. I already felt like United was a team that I would hate and that has become true as they are the team I hate the most.(Spurs are more like the pesky rival that we aren’t really scared of). Most of my friends learned about the best players and teams through the FIFA series and then discovering that ESPN 2 showed the Champions League as well. We are huge fans as one roommate is a United, one is a Chelsea while I am an Arsenal fan and the two matchups we have had this year have been intense in the apartment to say the least.

  3. RoughRidre

    November 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I never played soccer as a kid (in fact I hated it due to all the running), but did casually watch a World Cup match or two (usually if the USMT was playing) every four years seeing that I was (and still am) a sports junkie. I was caught up in the success of the US in the 2002 World Cup, and when the 2006 World Cup came around I decided to pay close attention to the entire tournament.

    While I had a very elementary understanding of the game itself and of who was who in the tournament, I hadn’t the slightest clue about anything having to do with club football (except that I knew of the “super clubs” like ManU, Real Madrid, etc.). As I watched the World Cup I found myself pulling for the French team and really liked Thierry Henry. After watching several matches I had decided that I really liked the passion and beauty of the sport and that I was going to follow a European league and club. Then when Henry scored the goal to beat Brazil, I decided right there that I was going to support whatever team he was on (not having a clue who that was at the time). I discovered he played for Arsenal and for the rest of the summer of 2006 I spent untold hours reading, listening, and watching whatever I could find on soccer and Arsenal falling in love with both the sport and the club.

    Regarding the credibility of this, I initially struggled with it. As soon as I discovered the history of Arsenal, I felt a bit ashamed of choosing a team of their caliber and what it would look like. But really, who the heck cares. I did have some insecure moments when my sister-in-law married a LONG-time, “authentic” Spurs supporter, but again, who cares!

  4. nssf04

    November 9, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I am 38 years old and never played soccer, other than a little bit in gym class. I attended my first soccer match — a Chicago Fire home game — because my friends and I wanted to see the band that was playing afterwards. Three years later (in 2001), I went to another Fire game with an English friend who was visiting, and he explained the offsides rule — that was the key for me, but it still took some time. I took some interest in the 2002 World Cup. I even got up early to catch most of the U.S.-Germany match in the quarters.

    After that, I occasionally watched some Fire matches that were on local TV. My first love is still baseball, and I made an online friend from Australia who lived in London for a few years and became a big Hammers fan. He was always talking about them in emails and on the baseball Web site where we first encountered each other. One Sunday morning, I stumbled across a West Ham game on Fox Soccer Channel, and I thought, “Ha! I’ll watch Phil’s team.” That was spring 2006. I caught a little bit of the 2006 World Cup, including most of England-Portugal, and then I really started to follow West Ham in December of that year, when my now-wife and I caught the last 15 minutes of West Ham’s 1-0 win over Manchester United at Upton Park. We had planned a trip to visit her sister in London, and I was talking up the idea of going to a match, so having that on TV to show her really helped. We did go to a match (a dire 1-0 loss in the league to Watford). A couple of months later, I met a friend who supports Liverpool at his regular footie pub and watched West Ham become the first visiting team to win at the Emirates. I have been back to Upton Park twice since, then, and my English friend who explained the game to me took me to Loftus Road to see QPR down Blackpool, 3-2. My sister-in-law has moved, so we probably won’t get back to London any time soon, but in the meantime…


  5. Alistair Hendrie

    November 9, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Reading fan.

    I started to support them as they are local and when I was around 7/8 a lot of my friends began going so I guess it rubbed off on me. I began begging my parents to take me to Elm Park and my Dad abhored football and everything that went with it (strange man, I know!)

    After a while, my Mum caved and told my Dad if I wanted to watch football that was my decision. We went to Reading V Birmingham City at Elm Park on Saturday January 31st 1998, we won 2-0 and it was the best day ever. Shame we got relegated to the third teir at the end of the season haha.

    After that I was hooked and even moreso after the World Cup, and the rest as they say is history. 😀

  6. LP

    November 8, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    I grew up playing soccer like most American kids. While most of them push it aside once they get into college (unless they play there), I was still hooked. My biggest problem was that none of my friends were even remotely interested.

    I loved watching the World Cup, and nothing was more exciting than living downstairs from a group of ex-pats from Brazil in 2002. The hours we’d stay up late drinking and watching the matches and talking about how sports are down in Brazil was awesome. Then we all moved and I went into soccer hibernation again.

    I have one friend who is an ardent Chelsea supporter. I decided once I started watching the Prem regularly with him that I should have a horse in this race.

    Being a Red Sox fan, I’ve always hated the “front-runner” mentality, and immediately wrote of United, Liverpool, and Arsenal (especially after Arsenal’s undefeated season). I wanted to find a team like my beloved Red Sox:

    1) The fans had to be utterly dedicated, if not slightly suffering
    2) The organization had have the same fire for the team the same way the fans did. It wasn’t about business, it was about love.
    3) It had to be a London club, for how much my wife and I love the city

    My wife and I went to London about a month ago. I had made my selection and we even booked a stadium tour. The Lane feels like Fenway. The story of Billy Nic reminds me of how Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and Yaz not only played for the Red Sox, but gave everything to the organization and the fans.

    Picking Spurs was the only way to go, and I couldn’t be happier.

    • Dave S

      November 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm


  7. DWes

    November 8, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    My girlfriend in 7th grades name was Chelsea. Sometimes I think my life would be a lot happier if her name had been Manchester United.

  8. Leon

    November 8, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Great post. I agonized over even supporting a team at all given my non-Britishness. But, without a first, or second or third-tier, American club in my area I thought the best thing to do until I could remedy that was find a club overseas. From the beginning I never wanted to support any of the Big Four, too easy, too commonplace, too much history. I think history is what led to my ultimate decision. I felt I would lack credibility if I latched on to a club, but really hadn’t experienced their history. So I watched for a couple years, and then caught on to the fact that a club had won the CCC playoffs, and had never played in the top flight of English football. Not only that, the winning goal was scored by a guy named WindAss. Well that sold me, so before the successes of last fall, and before the acquisition of Altidore, I grabbed onto Hull City. I thought I would be lucky to get one season in the Prem, but I will support the Tigers wherever we play and they’ve exceeded my every expectation for the enjoyment I’ve had doing so.

  9. Dano

    November 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I’m 24 from the US and played youth soccer for two years at a YMCA. My town was too small and didn’t have a school soccer team so I had to go to another city. At this point I only followed MLS because I didn’t have access to Internet or good TV choices to follow or watch the EPL. I enjoyed the two years but lost interest for a while. Then about 2-3 years ago I started following MLS again. Because I now had the Internet and better TV, I got interested in the EPL. I chose Arsenal as my team not knowing anything about the team, only choosing them because of the name and logo. My love for the game has never been stronger, and I only wish that I could have continued playing when I was younger and followed the game more.

  10. Brad in SoCal

    November 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    There was no soccer where and when I grew up (Rhode Island in the 60s-70s). I got hooked during the ’94 World Cup and have followed the USMNT since then. I only started following the Premier League since FSC started broadcasting the games regularly on my cable provider. My choices have always been the underdogs, first Reading and now Hull City. It’s fun to watch the big four with all their great players, but the grit and determination of first Reading and now Hull is compelling on a different level. I do follow the LA Galaxy, but it costs too much all around to attend games in person!

  11. BC

    November 8, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Great post. As others here, I became nostalgic for my discovery of the EPL and soccer in general. Unfortunately, I was pretty anti-soccer growing up. I played football (American), basketball and baseball. I made fun of soccer players. I didn’t understand, or care to understand, the game.

    Fast forward to 1997. I studied for a semester in Aberdeen, Scotland. Being my first time out of the country, I felt like it was time to try some new things. So, I took in an Aberdeen match. I had a great time. I couldn’t believe the passion for football in the UK. Being immersed in football culture for several months, I gained a respect for the sport.

    After I came back to the US, I certainly appreciated soccer but hadn’t developed a passion for it. That changed around 2003-4 when a buddy of mine invited me to play soccer with some of his friends. I had played YMCA soccer when I was young but other than that, I had no experince playing the game. I was very bad at first but I loved it. I kept playing every week and eventually was invited to play indoor soccer with a multinational group of lads. My interest for the game was growing rapidly.

    Since I had started playing soccer, I sought out matches on TV. I ordered the sports package from my cable company in order to get FSC. I watched many EPL matches and fell in love. I started supporting ManU as I really had no idea of the history or the big 4 or any of that. I had heard of ManU and I thought Scholes, Rooney and Giggs were pretty awesome. So ManU was my team for a season.

    Then I had a moment of self-realization. As I learned more about ManU’s success, I discovered that I didn’t really want to support a team that always won. Especially if I was just picking them for no concrete reason. So I began a search for a new team. I did lots of hunting on the net and found the FulhamUSA community. After posting there and hearing all the Fulham supporter’s stories, I was hooked. Fulham were, and still are, my team.

    However, I also became hooked on Newcastle. For whatever reason, I became enamored with the team and their tremendous support. So they became my second team. A few years later, a good friend of mine, who I had been trying to convince to get into the EPL for a while, discovered he had FSC. The first match he saw was a Newcastle match and they became his team. We bonded over the Toon and now I’m in the predicament of having two clubs to support. Wouldn’t change a thing though!

  12. Evan

    November 8, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I’ve been playing soccer my whole life. I started supporting Manchester City a few years back because i liked their kits.

  13. Zola612

    November 8, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Step #3 for me…August 1999, I was flipping channels while listless and frustrated in graduate school when I stumble upon a sort of “Match of the Day” knock-off on Fox.

    Chelsea v. Sunderland at the Bridge, Gianfranco Zola brings down a long ball from Deschamps with wonderful control, 2 touches and an audacious chip over 2 defenders to find Gus Poyet’s run into the box. Poyet delivers a jaw-dropping scissor-kick volley into the upper right corner. I was sold, that was it. watch it here

    I keep the clip on my iPod so I can show people what love at first sight is. And I can prove I am not a post Abramovich glory hunter.

    Carefree, wherever we may be,
    We are the famous CFC!

  14. Richard the Red (Devil)

    November 8, 2009 at 7:21 am

    I was born in Ancoats, Manchester in the early 70’s. I spent the first 10 years of my life, most of it anyway, playing football on the local pitches in Manchester. My family were all United supporters and I grew to love and support them even after we moved to the States. If I didn’t have my two young daughters, I would already be back supporting United in person. I go back every year to watch a few matches and have more than a few pints.

  15. RobG

    November 8, 2009 at 6:48 am

    I love this question!

    Step 1: Joined HS soccer team in ’86 as reserve goalkeeper because I was on the debate team and the debate coach was the soccer coach and he needed players.

    Step 2: World Cup ’94 (U-S-A! U-S-A!) & ’98

    Step 3: British friend and Arsenal fan introduced me to THE EPL in 1999. I introduced him to the Atlanta Falcons and strippers who go the full monty.

    Step 4: FOX SPORTS WORLD / FOX SOCCER CHANNEL! If it weren’t for live matches on TV, it would have never happened.

    Step 5: 2000-2008, Searching for a team. ManU? – like em but it’s the bandwagon. Arsenal? – cool but never bonded to any player there since Ljungberg – too young, too French – Liverpool? – nothing about them ever hooked me – Chelsea? – love the players and the coaches, but again, bandwagon thing kept me back, and have never liked Russian oligarchs, soooooooooo..

    Step 6: Fulham! – the Americans (McBride!-Dempsey!), the underdog status, the relegation battle when RH came on on board. In the end I’m drawn by the romance and story behind a scrappy team over-achieving rather than a dominating team who should win every time the go on the pitch.

    But really, if it wasn’t for Fox Sports World / FSC then none of this would have ever happened.

  16. Grant

    November 8, 2009 at 3:47 am

    I never played soccer when I was younger.

    I first got into soccer when I rented FIFA ’98: Road to the World Cup, and my friends and I really enjoyed the game. It got even better when I showed the game to my aunt’s boyfriend (who fortunately married into the family), and he was overjoyed. You see, he’s Croatian, and Croatia’s first World Cup as an independent nation was in 1998. He played goalkeeper in high school, where he was 2nd all-state in Ohio, behind Brad Friedel if you can believe that, and college, and he even coached for a while, too.

    Anyway, soccer fell off my radar for a while there, and I missed the 2002 World Cup entirely. I wish more than anything I could have been following the U.S. men’s national team during that tournament.

    I started following footy again when my dormmate in college had a copy of FIFA 2004. When Arsenal started wearing their Highbury commemorative kit in 2005-06, I noticed them because I was going to Arizona State, and the uniforms were basically our colors. I thought Thierry Henry was amazing, and that was pretty much how I started following Arsenal. It helped that the only soccer we could watch in our dorms was the Champions League on ESPN, and that happened to be the season Arsenal went on their run to the final, but learning about the history of the club was easier, too, what with the club moving out of Highbury and all.

    Looking back on it, I sometimes feel bad about picking a top four team, but I think I’m somewhat vindicated by the fact that Arsenal haven’t won a trophy since I started following them. Hopefully that streak comes to an end this year.

  17. Kevin_Amold

    November 8, 2009 at 3:34 am

    Fulham, to my knowledge when I first started following the game, was the only club to consistently give American players a chance in England. In retrospect, this may not be correct, but it’s how I chose my club. Now, I’m hoping for the day that I can catch a West London derby at the Cottage. Someday……

  18. SeminoleGunner

    November 8, 2009 at 2:48 am

    My “Step 3” was stumbling upon an Arsenal Champions League match when I was in college. I had been aware of the bigger English clubs for a few years, and my limited exposure to them had sort of nudged me in an Arsenal direction. The way they played the game and the fact that they weren’t quite such an easy choice as Manchester United led to me choosing them.

    I will readily admit that I have nowhere near the credibility of someone who was lucky enough to follow an English club from birth, but at the same time I’d like to think I’d be at least tolerated by most Arsenal fans.

    I look at it this way: I am an embarrassingly hardcore supporter of my school’s college football team, the Florida State Seminoles (haven’t missed a single home game since 1999). If I was to meet someone from London who had only limited exposure to American college football but had chosen Florida State as their team, I would welcome them aboard without any hesitation. True, followers of college football will probably point out that anyone who took up with Florida State right now is certainly no “glory hunter.” LOL

  19. money

    November 7, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    I grew up with soccer as my primary sport since I was 4 years old (1984). I got the chance to go to the UK with my high school soccer team to play games in 1996 and 1998. While there in 96, we got to see an Everton v Sheffield Wednesday game at Goodison Park. While there in 98, we got to see Arsenal play Panathinaikos at Wembley for a Champions League match. Before that game, I had a hard time following league soccer and primarily followed international soccer. But the 98 matchup wow’ed me. Bergkamp, Anelka, Viera, Overmars, and Tony Adams all blew my mind. I’ve been an Arsenal fan ever since.

  20. erik

    November 7, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    essien’s wondergoal against arsenal in 2006? sealed it for me, freshman year of college, dining hall. Chelsea for life.

  21. Scott

    November 7, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I’d always liked Soccer/football, but being a Yank, the only times we could ever watch it was during the Olympics or World Cup.

    Side story…I became a huge Ghana fan while in grad school when a friend of mine from Ghana would get together in the dorm lounge to watch the Black Stars. It’s because of her that I’ll always root for the Black Stars…We Ghana Win!!!

    Anyway, after grad school I ended up living in upstate NY and one day I stumbled across FSC on tv and I was hooked in again. I became a rabid fan nearly overnight…so much so my friends & coworkers made fun of me because of how quickly it happened. It literally seemed like it was overnight, but it had more to do with the fact that I could actually watch matches all of a sudden.

    I decided I had to have a team to root for…but who?? I hated ManU…I feel like all the fans across the globe are really bandwagon fans and I HATE fairweather fans. Anyway, I leaned toward Chelsea because my favorite color is blue, but was also drawn toward Liverpool.

    With Chelsea, it was simply their colors that drew me to them…with LFC, it was so much more. I respected their history, yes they dominated the 70s & 80s much like ManU has the 90s & 00s, but their history is soooo much more than the 70-80s. As an Oklahoma Sooner alum (BOOMER!) I relish tradition!! As a Boston Red Sox fan (grew up in the Fl town they do spring training in) I relish fanaticism! Liverpool had both…in spades.

    But what finally won me over was Torres. When I saw him, I knew I was watching greatness. He was/is amazing. I only hope he stays healthy for the long run. Anyway, Torres won me over to LFC…I have become obsessed!!

    So, my LFC obsession had begun through research about the club & its history, but was brought to fruition via a player. Yet, it isn’t simply Torres that keeps me a Red. The fans, the atmosphere at Anfield, the triumphs, the tragedy. LFC has it all…I simply love them.

    It’s kind of scary how LFC has taken over my life…right now, I’d definitely say I’m more of an LFC fan that an Oklahoma Sooners fan…..jeezus that’s heretical, but true.

    I’m dying during the current run…but I know heartbreak…hell I’m a long-time (well as long as you can be at 37) Sox fan.

    YNWA…LFC for Life!

  22. josh

    November 7, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    as a liverpool fan who was born and still continues to england im am quite suprised at how diverse the american supporters are i thought you where all man u and liverpool supporters

    • nssf04

      November 9, 2009 at 12:24 pm

      I would guess that a lot of American readers who root for those clubs are too sheepish to post their stories here — what with all the replies bad-mouthing glory hunting and whatnot.

  23. Jaguar

    November 7, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    3 things really. One of my best friends from England is a Chelski fan, and they were playing in the FA cup 2002, against…. THE ARSENAL. so I chose them, I also had spent a bunch of time in Islington with an Ex who had mates that lived there, and lastly the lovely Irish girl who poured pints at my local on Ludlow St., in NYC years ago is a rabid gunner. So I have become a rapid Gunner, I would say it is the only sport I now care about. I came to Arsenal long before I knew anything about the big four, or fever pitch. I have never seen a game there, but have caught games in Norway and Turkey. When I lived in Columbus, OH it was great having the Crew, and especially last year. Raised in Boston, I am huge bosox fan, but that has gone by the wayside, compared with the beautiful game. 2 hrs. in pub on a sat morning with a few pints, is doable compared to 4 or so into the night. I believe that the more exposure to the game, especially the EPL (the only league I have time for) will help usher in a new era of football in the States. Things are looking great so far for Arsene’s boys, and I love the side we have built; Song has really come a long way, though I will never get over losing Flamini!

  24. V

    November 7, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Surprisingly I had similar steps to finding European soccer as Jesse, played soccer as a kid. Enjoyed every single of the world cups came around, I always tried to watch as much as I could, sadly I never had cable or any close friends who liked watching soccer so it was always a chore to watch soccer/watch it in spanish (which didn’t work too well since my spanish is limited to understanding ‘GOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!’).

    The biggest turning point happened when the ’06 Champions League Final came around, I heard about the game through some online friends and thought it would be fun to watch. So called a few friends, and managed to persuade one to let me come over and watch the game on ESPN. It really showed me what I was missing in not watching European club soccer and started my love for a little team called Arsenal (I really believe it was just the beautiful play of Arsenal and Henry that I fell in love with), from that point it was all bliss, during the ’06 world cup I had the great luck of getting an internship at a small company that was owned by a soccer lover. So I had the pleasure of watching every single game and becoming addicted.

    Needless to say, I now spend roughly an extra $30/month to get Setanta and FSC to catch every Gunners game, watch espn360 at work to catch the carling cup, and spend a good 2 hours reading EPL news everyday. The beautiful game has me hooked and I love it.

  25. Matthew N

    November 7, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    When I was young and dumb, I really only had favorite players. I loved Roberto Baggio and Tab Ramos. Then the MLS came around, and I naturally began to take a liking for the Columbus Crew, my local club. Since then, my interest in MLS has waned, mostly because the quality of play is still somewhat low and it is difficult to catch the games on TV (I don’t live close enough to go games unless I make a weekend of it).
    A few years ago, I ordered DIrecTV for the first time. I also must mention that I have a very weird job and I get off work around 7:30 in the mornings. There is NEVER anything on TV at 7:30am except reruns. After watching nearly every single program the History Channel, Learning Channel, Military Channel, etc., had to offer, I found this wonderful Fox Soccer Channel. I had always been a fan of soccer, but I had never really paid attention to any foreign leagues (like the Premier League). After a couple weeks of madly watching FSC, I ordered Setanta and GolTV. I didn’t really know much at this point, but it was still preseason and I was mostly catching friendly matches.
    The first game I remember watching seriously was Liverpool v Chelsea at Anfield. I knew that Chelsea was a really good team (I had heard the name many times and saw people wearing their jerseys and stuff), so I naturally kinda rooted for Liverpool. This also happened to be the same day that a young Spanish striker was making his home debut. Well, said striker put a ball past Petr Cech and the crowd just went batshit insane. I knew from that point on that I was a Liverpool fan and there was no turning back.
    Now that it is a few years later, I’ve kind of taken a shine to Burnley. They seem to be a team that is always competitive and always surprising. I also am a big fan of Chris Eagles (my new favorite non-American non-Liverpool footballer).
    A few weeks ago I ordered Setanta-i and I’m trying to start seriously watching the Coca Cola Championship and the lower leagues. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of play (the Newcastle United vs Sheffield United match was AMAZING last week). I’m still trying to figure out what team I’m going to follow, but Sheffield United is the one I like most so far.

  26. LI Matt

    November 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    I’m a little older that Mr. Chula, old enough to remember the NASL. That’s where it started for me.

    Like a lot of people, I picked up on the Premier League via Lionel Bienvenu’s two-hour weekly highlights show on FSW. My favorite player in those early days was Eric Cantona, which probably should have made me a Manyoo fan. But, having lived my whole life in Yankees country, I couldn’t bring myself to support a team like that.

    As I studied and learned more about the game, one subject that interested me was the idea of “Jewish clubs”, clubs that had a historical association with their city’s Jewish community. There are several such clubs around Europe; the two that are most prominent today are Ajax of Amsterdam and Tottenham of London.

    So, Spurs it is. I went in fully aware of Spurs’ place in England’s pecking order. I just have to live with it.

  27. Whu_You10

    November 7, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    The first game that I ever watched, which still to this day is my favorite game of all time was the West Ham vs Liverpool in the FA Cup final in 2006. I didn’t know much about professional soccer but always played soccer growing up. After watching that game i decided i was going to start following the EPL in the next season, but I still didn’t have a team. During that summer was the world cup and i was rooting for Argentina. Tevez was my favorite player from that team and when he was transferred to West Ham on the transfer deadline, I went with him.

  28. Jayoh

    November 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Great article…as I read it I felt like it was a trip down memory lane for me…except it was undoubtedly the 2002 and 2006 world cups that pulled me in. I’ve been a fan ever since. When it came time to look for an epl team to support I too did not want to be called a “band wagon” fan and found myself driven away from the big 4, but at the same time I honestly was not interested in rooting for a team that was in immediate danger of get relegated. And so I spent about 2 years watching games and taking it all in. The more I watched the more I fell in love with Aston Villa, I really enjoyed watching them play. They’re fast and fun to watch, they have a rich history and tradition and so I got hooked watching Agbonlahor and company. I’ve been watching and supporting Villa ever since. Villa to the champions league!! What I’ve found is that most casual fans in the US don’t really know who Villa are and so I rarely feel like I need to be apologetic about my love for the beautiful game or especially Aston Villa.

  29. Steve

    November 7, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Step 3: It was Fall 1999. I’ve just watched my Detroit Lions (NFL) lose again from my dorm room at Michigan State on a Sunday afternoon. I came across the old EPL highlight show with Lionel Bienvenu on the local Fox Sports channel. I had played as a kid/teen, played some IM at MSU and watched World Cup 94, but never really seen professional club football before.

    I suppose I had always been been a subconscious Anglophile, being a big fan of Danger Mouse, Monty Python, UK beers and Iron Maiden. Not that any of those have to do with football, but the last one definitely contributed to who I have come to support.

    I began to tune in every week for the highlights show and one particular player caught my attention, one Paolo Di Canio. His skill, flair and passion was just incredible to someone who had never seen anything like him before. The fact the club he played for was the same one that Steve Harris/Iron Maiden were always going on about pretty much solidified it for me. The club from the tough/gritty area being renowned for playing the game in an attacking/attractive style in front of loud supporters with a gallows sense of humor was for me. Being a London club, but not one of the uber-fashionable ones was a bonus. I’ll be honest, I liked the colors and Doc Martens on the shirts too.

    Bought my first shirt when I was on a study program in England the following Summer, went to a friendly at a non-league ground as my first match (at Purfleet, now Thurrock FC)and the rest is history. Ironically, my first match at Upton Park was against Gillingham in March 2004 when they shot the live scenes for the Green Street film. (Just a coincidence) The football wasn’t scintillating as it was the First Division/CCC, but it was brilliant. Been back to England 2 other times since then to watch and went to the friendlies last summer in Columbus and Toronto.

    Even though I’m relatively new to it all and a Yank, my level of passion for West Ham is only really rivaled by that which I have for MSU football/basketball. I still watch my American pro teams(Detroit), but my interest in them has fallen off a lot. COME ON YOU IRONS!

    • Conor

      November 7, 2009 at 7:36 pm

      That is too funny, Steve! I’m also a Spartan myself, at least until opting to transfer to art school in the Spring, and I would also say the only thing that comes close to my love for the beautiful game is my love for MSU basketball. Which makes sense because I would say the Izzone student section would be as close as the US comes to rivaling the passion and energy found in stadiums in the Premier League.

      As for my story, I plaid co-ed soccer from age 5 to about age 15. That naturally gave me a casual interest but with soccer not being anywhere near the “big four” of American sports it wasn’t until around age ten that I adopted a club. My dad bought me FIFA 2000 and for one reason or another I chose Arsenal. I can’t really say it was because they were a massively successful club because I really had no concept of that at the time, as it was still a casual interest. Shortly thereafter my Dad bought me a Marc Overmars poster (which I really wish I still had), and slowly but surely the interest grew. I followed the Americans great run through the ’02 World Cup and I’d say from there I had the passion.

      Now, I’m thoroughly addicted and try to watch every Arsenal match one way or another. And, while I’ve yet to see the Gunners in person, I did get the pleasure of visiting the Emirates a couple summers back.

  30. Dave S

    November 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    For me, it was a decision that was born out of the 02 World Cup. I hadn’t ever played soccer, but would always watch the World Cup. I was overjoyed that the Irish made it in 02, and so when Keane scored that goal at the death against Germany and the Blarney Stone Pub went absolutely mental, I found my favorite player. And he soon was on Tottenham, and so there you have it. Come on you Spurs!

  31. alisonrose

    November 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    My little soccer story:

    I did not play as a child, although my mom did try to get me to at one point, and I was told when I got older that I stood there on the field and cried until they let me leave. 😛 Soccer was not on my radar AT ALL throughout childhood, adolescence and early 20s…I never even thought to pay it any attention.

    But then at 23 I started dating someone who HAD been a lifelong soccer fan, and after a short while and watching some games with him, I found myself really getting into it…and realizing how much more exciting it was than baseball or American football. (I never gave a crap about basketball.) It didn’t take long before soccer became the only sport I really cared about (I still follow baseball to some extent, can’t give up on my Giants :P) and I’m so glad it did because I frigging love it.

    Anyway, his team was Newcastle, although I don’t recall how he came to “choose” them, but I know they had been his team since he was a young kid – and so, they became my team too, and even after he and I parted ways I stuck with them because…well, I couldn’t really see not doing that. Even now that they’re in the Championship (CRY) they’re still my team because that’s how it works. 🙂

    Of course, being an American I also have MLS, in which my team is the Galaxy, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with cheering on teams in different leagues, and more to the point, different countries 🙂

  32. BrianBridgePro

    November 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I decided to start following a team once the televised games here in the States increased greatly, I didn’t want to be accused of being a bandwagon jumper by gravitating towards a perennially successful team, so I limited my search to the 3 newly promoted teams and said stay up or sink back down,this is my team. After studying the history of the 3, I chose Burnley and have been extraordinarily pleased. Go Clarets!

    • Jeruleus

      November 7, 2009 at 5:28 pm

      I like that strategy and the commitment it implies. I also have a soft spot for Burnley, so I doubley approve.

  33. Jeruleus

    November 7, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    This is an interesting question and one I’ve often wondered about. I never played organized soccer when I was younger, but my older brother did and I always enjoyed going to watch him play. So I guess it was nostalgia for that time that tugged at me when it happened for me, pretty much just how you’ve laid it out in step 3. I stumbled across the ’06 Champions League Final (and now that I realize that, I realize how much of a Jonny-Come-Lately I actually am – it’s depressing), and found myself rooting hard for Arsenal. There was something about Henry, I think…maybe I’d seen him play before. Anyhow, after that I’d become hooked. Ultimately, I changed allegiances and now support Chelsea FC and Schalke04 (neither if they ever play each other).

    As for establishing credibility – as you say, it’s all about being OK about it yourself, so I don’t think it matters too much. As long as your a fan of a team for good reasons (not front-running), then it doesn’t matter, I think.

    • Jeruleus

      November 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm

      I meant “you’re”, obviously. I agonized over whether or not I should try to correct that typo and since I can’t edit it, I had to make a reply. Sorry.

  34. Chowie

    November 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I’m afriad the bloke who rings the bell at Portsmouth is a far better supporter than the majority of English fans let alone North American. When you have not missed your team play in like 15 years or whatever it is now, plus invested the money that comes with that I think your up for that elite club supporter award.

    But yes it’s interesting I’ve often thought how people ‘pick’ teams. I was born into mine so don’t really know it any other way.

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