Why I Support
Football fans are unique. Across the country they create an atmosphere full of voice, colour and delight. At every level of the game from the thousands in the Premier League to the individuals who travel the country watching the game at the lower ends of the pyramid.
It’s not only at matches that fans represent their team and wear their colours – it is immersed in all that they do in their everyday lives.
In their own words, we have asked fans to tell us why they choose the teams they support, sharing their personal choice.
Why do you support your side? Tell us by getting in touch with Anwar Uddin at Anwar.Uddin@Fsf.org.uk
Robert Burns – Arthurlie FC
Why do I support my Arthurlie? It’s pretty simple. It’s my local club; ten minutes’ walk from my house and I feel as though I’m a part of it. As someone who lives on the west coast of Scotland, football suffers from sectarianism and also racism to a lesser extent. When I go to football I encourage my team’s players while indulging in light-hearted banter with the oppositions one, many of whom I know.
I support a junior side, which in Scotland is non-league semi-pro. This allows you get to know the players and on many occasions I have become friends with them. If my team wins a Cup I know for sure that by the end of that day I will have held it, which makes it so much more special as you feel like you are a part of it.
At the games its 99% standing and there is no segregation between supporters as there is little if any trouble ever. You can mingle with opposition fans on match-day and the entire day is always fantastic.
Although the players are paid, the cost is far from restrictive for a supporter. In fact, it’s an absolute bargain, with the top two leagues charging £6 and £3 for concessions while the lower leagues charge £5 and £2.50. So basically you can watch the game, buy a programme, have a pie and Bovril and have a shot in the half time draw for just ten pounds!
With most clubs having social clubs close to their grounds you also get to mix with opposition supporters pre and post-match with no trouble whatsoever, with the majority of clubs able to showcase their rich history which is also a huge plus.
Men, women, and children going to football to enjoy football supporting their local side and the players, no matter their colour, creed or religion – wouldn’t it be great if it caught on nationwide?
Andy Wilkins – Canvey Island FC
For me, supporting Canvey Island has effectively saved my life. I was in a dark place at the time of my arrival to non-league football, and it has given me a sense of belonging that I didn’t have before, it taught me to love and respect those around me.
Within a few months of being at the club, I became known for being Canvey’s youngest and one of the most loyal fans – many of my early YouTube videos were on my away days with them, and just generally talking about the club.
I went from being a simple volunteer, to doing everything. I did the turnstiles once for a Reserve home game, I was a ball boy, a ground-hopper and even a match reporter.
I even covered the Reserves winning the Essex Senior League Reserve Division title, which was then put out onto the club’s website. I don’t think many 15-year-olds do that for football clubs.
I’ve gone from being a cameraman at times, to an end-of-season review in the final programme of the season, in my debut season. I was even asked to award the Supporters’ Player of the Season.
Since April 2015, I’ve been to various away days with Canvey, which have been total class in my view. Covering games against the likes of Havant, Waterlooville, even Needham Market – they’re great days out for me.
If I had someone say to me five years ago that going down to Canvey will change my life, I would’ve told them to shut up! But because of my work at Canvey, I’ve got a reputation at the club and in the football media industry, and I wish to grow both in the coming years.
The club is run with the community, helping those in need, and that’s what makes the club so perfect for me.
No matter what happens, that club is my home in non-league football, and that’s how it’s always going to be for me.
Simone Hayes and Preciana Brown - Arsenal Ladies
Ola spoke to Simone Hayes and Preciana Brown following Arsenal’s 10-0 FA Cup win against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
We’ve been coming to the club for about four years now and it’s so important for us to support Arsenal Ladies. We come here, get up to the back row and try to make as much noise as possible!
Women’s football doesn’t get a lot of support, and it’s not as appreciated as the Men’s game, which isn’t fair as the girls work just as hard.
The ladies have got a lot of passion in comparison to the men’s game it seems. We both support the men’s team as well and the contrast at the moment is interesting. We went to the Men’s fixture against West Brom, which we lost 3-1, then we come here today and win ten-nil.
It’s important to support the women’s game as well, as you can see the increasing amount of times it’s in the media. It gets more young girls interested in the sport, and that’s the most important thing; we’re trying to help grow the game so it benefits younger generations.
When we were growing up there were no football clubs or anything for girls, it was just a bunch of us going to the park to play football together; now all the girls have got a place to play or watch with clubs right near their houses.
Steve King - Ware
I can’t remember when I first discovered football; it just seems to have been always with me.
My friends and I would play two-a-side games with a tennis ball across the mainly traffic free roads with chalk marks on kerbstones for goal posts or go to a playing field with a plastic football and jumpers for goal posts.
I followed Portsmouth originally, and my father and I would go to watch them when they played in London, however this was expensive so we didn’t go that often.
I was aware of my local team and their top scorer Mo Hibbert, the first black player to put on a Ware shirt, but it never occurred to me that the team was important enough to follow.
After the eleven plus I went to the local grammar school where rugby was the sport but there was a lot of informal football played at break times. However there was a lack of any formal training opportunities in our national sport.
By this time I had started to support my local team and decided to go down for a trial at the start of one season. Unfortunately my playing style didn’t agree with the coaches idea at the time, and being young and principled I wouldn’t or maybe couldn’t change.
I accepted that I was not going to make a serious footballer and took to the stands, devoting my Saturdays to watching Ware.
After a few seasons Ware made it through to the first round proper of the FA Cup; in the excitement Ware extended an invitation to any supporters to join in the task of running the club.
I took up the invitation I think because I could see us becoming regular participants in FA Cup proper and wanted to play my part in getting the club there.
If anyone had said then that it would actually take 39 years for us to do it again I would still probably have signed up.
I have a number of great memories of the team from the years, FA Cup runs are one thing, another is the time I announced Luther Blisset (of A.C. Milan, and England fame) coming on as a substitute for Watford in a Senior Cup game. I guess it’s the biggest name I ever announced in my time on the PA.
In those 39 years and the ten that have followed, I have been treasurer three times; chairman once; interim secretary once; PA announcer; programme editor for four different stints; sponge man once and emergency linesman once.
I am one to think for and champion equality in society, and if Ware could in any small way contribute to that, then I’m all for it.
Over the years I have seen the proportion of black players rise from pretty much zero to, at times, to over 50% and recently we have had a black manager.
I personally feel that the best players, no matter ethnic background, should represent the club and I still hold true to that, and I think the club still hold true to that as well.
Oly Fisayo - Arsenal
That passion for the game comes from my support of Arsenal FC; I love football because I fell in love with it watching the Gunners.
I have always been involved in or influenced by football; I was kicking a ball by the time I could walk and probably even before then. But I never knew what supporting a team was when I was younger until I was around eight years old.
I remember two key moments in my young life that defined to me what supporting a team meant, and what I would forever associate football to be.
I was with my family and my parents drove us to visit a family friend in Northampton; it was a family party and we all had a great time. At the end of the party one of my Uncles came up to me and my mum. He asked her: “is this the young man that loves football?”
She said yes and my Uncle suddenly produces a Manchester United bandana out of his pocket and hands it to me, saying: “Now you are a Man U fan!”
With a big smile on his face and mine, I thought to myself “Ok I’m a Man U fan now.” All the while thinking I have no idea what that means. Some time goes by, I don’t know how long, but I find myself in the living room watching TV with my Dad.
He changes the channel to an Arsenal game, and for the first time I saw Thierry Henry play. I was captivated, the incredible passing and fluid football that we played, culminating in powerful yet graceful attacking prowess of the number 14.
I had never seen anything like this. I was in awe that the finishing ability of this man, and how he made excellent strikes look like brush strokes on a canvas, the signature finish into the bottom left corner like an artist’s signature on a painting.
From that moment, football to me meant slick passing, it meant, fast runs between defenders and it meant curling the ball into the bottom corners; from that moment football to me meant, Arsenal FC.
I went into school following that match, discarding my Man U bandana, proudly proclaiming, I am an Arsenal fan.
And from that day, I always have, and always will be, AFC.
Sandeep Chohan - Southampton
I had never been to a football match before, surprisingly as I am a massive football fan, but my friends promised to take me. My first game was against Torquay United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy which I remember very well.
I decided to read up about the club because all I knew was that it was a team who was saved from going bust. An article I read by Kelvin Davis on why he rejected the chance to join Premier League West Ham to stay with League One Southampton made me realise I’m not just living in a town with a good club but a community that rallied together.
Over the next two years at university, I went to matches with my friends now and then, and was fortunate enough to meet Papa Waigo, Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and Kelvin Davis during this spell. I never had a footballer’s autograph or taken a photo with one before so this was great. By now, I felt a connection with the team.
Of course, my university degree was helping me feel more and more connected with the football club as I felt I was learning what it was like to be a proper football fan. Learning about youth football and academies also enabled me to connect with the amazing work the Saints Academy have done over the years and are continuing to do.
It wasn’t until my final year of university in 2012 that I realised Southampton are more than a club. During my most difficult times studying, I found going to St Mary’s was a cure for my stress and I left it all behind. I even persuaded my friends who knew nothing about football to come with me on occasions. I think when I decided to go to watch midweek matches on my own is when I felt a part of the community. Being a female, I never felt I would go to football alone but sitting at St Mary’s I felt the safest I have ever felt in my life.
I then had the honour of meeting Nigel Adkins who was talking to me about my degree and signed a book saying ‘together as one’. Every time I feel a bit of insecurity I remember this and know I have a family in Southampton.
My last game at St Mary’s was against Leicester City and when I left the stadium I felt still and emotional, but I knew my time on the south coast was coming to an end.
It’s only when I left Southampton that I realised I had become a football fan. Seeing them grow from being a League One team saved at the last minute to where they are today makes me feel so proud. I also had the honour of working with Southampton FC historians for the recent book ‘All The Saints’, which has made me feel officially part of the club.
Being back home, I am devastated I cannot share the current journey whilst living in Southampton but it has inspired to me purchase my first Southampton top which I look forward to wearing in pride. I know I will be back at St Mary’s one day and I have many friends who are Saints fans.
I will now forever be in that number, when the Saints go marching in.
Crystal Davis - Arsenal
No homework and Friday nights watching World Wrestling Entertainment was the last thing on my mind.
The weekends brought forth football. Along with my cousins, I would head to my great aunt’s family house in Essex, for what was meant to be freedom, a time to relax.
But thanks to the Arsenal, that agenda was short-lived.
One day I gave in, and asked my uncle who I should support, he replied the Arsenal. I asked why – he said ‘because they are the best’. That was a hard statement to argue with.
I arrived in England on August 5, 2002, during which Arsenal were the defending Premier League champions. If I were to make football my weekends, it would only make sense to support the Gunners. Any other team wouldn’t stand a chance of being watched in our household. So for argument sake I went for the boys in red and white.
There was something about that Arsenal side that made them stand out. What caught my eye was that they were a team that had players of colour, which for me, was touching.
Many of them went on to become legends – Patrick Vieira, Gilberto Silva, Kanu, Sol Campbell, Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sylvain Wiltord, Kolo Toure, and the undisputable Thierry Henry.
They were a team that I immediately felt connected to. Players of colour, all hailing from different backgrounds, playing beautiful football and winning games. Suddenly my weekends were alive.
I remember coming across a picture of Henry, scoring in a 3-1 win over Manchester United in 2001 at Highbury.
During his celebration he lifted up his shirt underneath it revealing – ‘For The West Indies’. It was later confirmed by ex-Arsenal man Alan Smith that the Frenchman’s symbolic display was a gentle reminder that he had not forgotten his roots.
It was a reminder that Henry’s father is of Caribbean descent. That was moving for me. A prolific of such stature who like me has a direct connection to the Caribbean. It was similar to the impact John Barnes had except this time around, this outstanding forward played for my team.
The average person may not able to understand the belief that football is more than just a game. But for most of us it is a religion – the stadiums are our place of worship. I have since lost touch with religion, instead I began to spend my weekends in front of the television, waiting for the football to kick off.
The Arsenal have taken me on an emotional roller-coaster – they have yet to win the league since their Invincible season of 2003-04 – but even then, I will always support the red and white army, because thanks to Arsene Wenger’s reign in charge of Arsenal, I have learnt the art of confidence and self-expression. Oh to be a Gooner.
Sarah Bland - Manchester City Women
Man City Ladies made it into the FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL) in 2014 and were renamed Manchester City Women FC (MCWFC). As a supporter, it was fantastic to see City backing our local, talented women alongside signing top players ready to take the league by storm.
My love for women’s football is down to the spirit of the game. Whether it’s played at grassroots, in lower league, in the FAWSL or internationally, the players interact with the supporters after the game. They always have time to spend at least an hour signing autographs, taking selfies and talking to fans.
MCWFC always have time for me as a supporter. They love to see the ‘Little Drum’ I bring to games, which is ready at any moment to rally the fans to chant ‘City’. At the end of the 2014 season, they approached me about starting an official supporters club.
It was and still is important for me to bring the fans together to support our women, and so with the help of fellow supporters, MCWFC OSC was born. The club is giving us a voice to help take the women’s game forward to the new generation of supporters.
I’m also the FAWSL Fan’s Panel Rep for the club, through which I am the voice for our supporters. We are a group of fans; working with the league to ensure the women’s game is enjoyable for all and to bring women into the game on and off the pitch.
It’s great to see the fans of all ages enjoying the matches and hopefully some will be inspired by our players to become our future stars. I love to hear the young fans chanting ‘City’ – it brings a smile to my face every time.
MCWFC, the FAWSL and the England Lionesses, along with all their fantastic supporters, are one big family – that is what makes the women’s game special!
Daniel Kelly - Reading
I was six when I first saw the shirt on next door’s clothesline. I’d been peering over the fence in the back garden trying to spot the ball I’d miskicked dangerously close to their greenhouse.
Further down the line, two wooden pegs secured a bed sheet in place. Knowing Reading, that clean sheet may have swiftly disappeared.
The 1995 play-off final was the first time I’d seen Reading play. Watching on holiday in Donegal, I was heartbroken as we agonisingly lost 4-3 to Bolton. There was plenty more where that came from.
Through the years I’ve seen comfortable relegation, relegation on the last day, countless play-off disasters, promotion and winning the league twice. I’ve seen the temptations of the ‘EPL’ and the brink of the dark underworld that is League Two. Not to mention the club’s second ever FA Cup semi-final.
I doubt that many fans of established top-tier clubs could say the same.
I follow Reading because I was born there, my family is from there and I spent a lot of my childhood in the town. Supporting your local team provides more pain than following a ‘big’ club would, but much more excitement when the good times come.
Despite the natural feeling of wanting to be in the top flight, my love for Reading FC will always be strongest in the Football League; losing to Bury, struggling to beat Port Vale and heartbreak at Wembley. I’d take relegation to win the FA Cup in a heartbeat.
Like most clubs, this year could be ours. Like most years, it probably won’t be. Up the Biscuitmen!
Jaz Singh - Liverpool
I got into Liverpool through my mum. Her brothers along with the majority of her family are Liverpool fans even though they’re mainly from London.
It was one of the two choices when I was growing up, you were either a Manchester United or a Liverpool fan.
When I was growing up Manchester United were the glory side as they were having the success and winning all the trophies but for some unexplained reason I fell in love with Liverpool.
At the time I think Michael Owen was coming through as the next great talent from Anfield. You also had great players there like Steve McManaman and David James.
He was in goal at the time and I always remember when he would make a fumble and then follow that up by making an unbelievable save. He always stood out for me for some reason and I could relate to him.
It was like my situation where they put the big guy in goal and he was just a frustrated outfield player – I still want to be an outfield player but I’m just not fit enough!
Moving on from that era, one of the big games during my time as fan is without doubt the Champions League final, but from a personal level it was a game the reds played at Birmingham City in 2004.
It was the first time I had been to see them play live, mainly because the game was moved from a normal Saturday kick-off when I was playing.
I remember we beat them 3-0 with Steven Gerrard scoring a cracker towards the end.
That was a great day and I hope Liverpool can have more of them in the future – perhaps in the League Cup this season as I think they may be too inconsistent to get back into the Champions League.
Charlie Enright - Chelsea
He raised me to be a blue, like his dad did for him, and I simply kept the long-held tradition. With my mum’s lack of interest in football too it wasn’t hard to make the obvious decision to become a Chelsea supporter.
I have been fortunate to have been born in the time being a Chelsea supporter has been fantastic. I’ve been able to enjoy trophy after trophy, with manager after manager, year after year.
However, finding out more about the club’s less eventful history, it made me realise how loyal my family had been in supporting Chelsea through the generations.
With the success that the club have achieved this century it’s easy to forget about loyalty and turn on your club during tough times, but that’s not something that I intend on doing for as long as I live.
My first match at the bridge came in the 2006/07 season, under the first spell of Jose Mourinho, in his third season as Chelsea manager. It was against Portsmouth, and we won 2-1 with Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack providing the goals for us on a dark afternoon in October.
It was a season where the blues narrowly missed out on the title after two consecutive seasons as champions, but the entire season goes down fondly in my memory as it was the realisation at how great supporting a football team could be, particularly after watching my first match.
I just loved every moment of it; the atmosphere seemed unreal to me even if I didn’t understand what was happening all the time. This was the first day I became really passionate about the club, and addicted to not only Chelsea but football in general.
So I suppose that you could say that I support Chelsea for a number of reasons. But one thing I know for sure is that I will support them for as long as I live.
Chris Wathen - Bristol Rovers
I lived in a village on the South side of Bristol and in 1976, our nearest League Club Bristol City were promoted to the top flight of English football. I suggested to my dad that we go there but he said he would be taking me to football elsewhere. Off to Bristol Rovers we went.
It turned out that in the 1950’s he changed his railway job, from outdoors to an office in Bristol Temple Meads station. The office was full of Rovers posters. He was watching Rovers one week, City the next, but loved the Eastville (Rovers) atmosphere more than the one at the club that most his home village supported (City).
I stayed as a Liverpool fan until a Rovers FA Cup 4th Round home tie against Southampton in January 1978. Our old Eastville ground rocked as we won 2-0 in front of a crowd of 26,500. That was it. I announced in school that I would now be a Rovers fan. Boom, there were only 10 of us in a large school and my decision wasn’t popular. I loved my games though and we watched lots of high-scoring games, including a Tony Pulis 25-yarder against Chelsea
From the 1982/83 season I started to go home and away. As soon as I left school, we started to regularly beat Bristol City. The derbies were so intense it’s hard to describe them and give them justice. Heroes like Ian Holloway and Devon White, Gary Penrice and Carl Saunders led the line. In 1990 we were promoted to the Championship and this was a wonderful time for me.
By 1990 I’d also achieved my Holy Grail of 96 ground visits for a football match (a full 92). By 2014, I’ve now seen a league game in 148 stadiums and a Rovers game in around 110.
My beloved Rovers have now nose-dived to non-league but we are such a proud club, with a special breed of fans. I cannot turn my back on them and carry on supporting them because of that special feeling of loyalty and being part of something so steeped in history. I can’t wait for us to get back in the League and I really want it to happen at the first attempt.
Christopher Dixon - Crystal Palace
Why do I follow Palace? Easy; they were my dad’s team, and like so many kids growing up who follow their parent’s team, I was no different. Well, that’s not strictly true – Palace were not high up on the list of visible clubs in mid-Essex so at school I started off ‘following’ Spurs. Gazza, Lineker, Samways – all the heroes. At a barbeque in the spring of 1990 however, that all changed; my father and I were glued to a TV in a Barking living room along with a crowd of neutrals ignoring undercooked sausages in favour of a truly incredible game.
Alan Pardew headed the extra-time goal that dispatched the then mighty Liverpool side who had humiliated us 9-0 at Anfield earlier that season. That match, and that goal decided both the Most Exciting Match I’d Ever Seen and my club allegiance for the rest of my days.
From then on I Was A Crystal Palace Fan.
The next time Palace played Liverpool was my first live game (I’d previously rejected the chance to go and see Charlton). It was cold and was leaning over the concrete at the front of the Holmesdale terrace along with all the other kids too big to sit on shoulders for longer than two minutes, but too small to actually see anything otherwise.
We won 1-0, Mark Bright scoring in front of the Holmesdale on half-time to cue my first experience of the ecstasy of deafening noise, jumping, and hugging strangers, all of whom were shouting and cheering with that roar which all fans are familiar. That was happiness in its most extreme and pure form and Palace had given it to me. I was doubly sold.
Palace meshed with an urge of mine to rebel, to upset. Like the kid I was, always pulling faces in photographs or being late for his dinner, Palace were the underdog, the thorn in the side of authority, and they punched well above their weight. I liked that.
The timing was right as well, at the end of the 90/91 season, we’d finished third and I felt proud. They were not Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool or West Ham, and we weren’t rubbish (although we all know that hasn’t always been the case). They also played in the bold red and blue stripes; obnoxious, clashing colours you could not ignore. In my mind, we fitted together nicely!
For various reasons, Palace took a back seat through my teens. In that time, our Championship winning season in 93/94, Hopkin Looking to Curl One in the ’97 Play-Off that avenged Steve Claridge’s last minute shinned winner the previous year were among those things I didn’t witness. Only twice did I see the greatest player ever to pull on the jersey, Attilio Lombardo. Twice. I regretted not being there at those times and still do, it felt like I had missed out on witnessing our history being made.
Now that I am more local and earning, I get to the games. I feel partly I’m catching up for lost time, but it’s obviously not just that; I love the ritual. I work for Palace Radio on a match day, so I make a programme, meet up with a few mates for a drink, sing, cheer, taunt opposition fans in the correct spirit and enjoy the day win or lose. I get what all fans get when we score, when we see a perfect pass or an injury time equaliser. That Feeling. It keeps me coming back for more – investing my time and money in the hope the Red’N’Blue will deliver a return. The hope always keeps you coming back.
For some, it’s a bigger gamble than others, Palace can by no means be relied upon to come through for with results (buying a ticket for any team expecting/demanding a win in advance is foolish), but there’s always a story in which I feel a part; We’ve rarely been a nothing side with nothing seasons – we’ve either been there or thereabouts in a promotion shake up or deep in a relegation scrap. And if there’s one fact that’s been massively reinforced in the past weeks with Tony Pulis’ departure and ensuing drama, it’s that moderate, predictable and comfortable success is the privilege of clubs like Everton, Villa, and Spurs is still something seems a little beyond our ever-growing reach.
We’re getting there though. We’ve been through a lot as a club, with financial ruin and last minute relegation battles just some of the lowlights, and that I’d like to think bonds us. We were half an hour from going to the wall four years ago and we’re still here. I’m glad we are.
Sadiq Selant - Tottenham Hotspur
One of the most frequent questions that is often aimed my way is “why do you support Spurs”. Most people are puzzled by the fact that although I was born and raised in Preston, I have an unequivocal relationship with a team 220 miles away door to door!
I fell in love with Spurs back in the 1980’s, not that I wasn’t spoilt for choice with Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United, Leeds United and Preston North End all playing good football. However I chose the Lilywhites in London, rather than the lilywhites from my home town.
Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardilles, Mickey Hazard, and Chris Waddle would entertain me and I loved the football we played. For me it was the enjoyment of watching something that was beautiful as opposed to a team who would be collecting trophies year after year.
I used to travel on the bus from Preston to Anfield with my Liverpool supporting brother when they played us. The excitement of wearing my jersey underneath my jacket for the walk to the stadium made me feel alive and part of something which I felt I belonged to. My other brothers supported Leeds, Everton, Preston North End and Manchester United and couldn’t understand my affinity to Spurs.
As I got old enough to travel I visited White Hart lane and I still remember when myself and my Sheffield United supporting friend Alan travelled to see Spurs play Kaiserslautern in the UEFA Cup. We left early but got stuck in traffic, reaching the ground at half-time.
We saw 45 minutes of football and to add insult to injury we conceded very late on and lost the game 1-0, making for a very long journey back home… but it was still worth it.
I still follow Spurs and have even moved closer to White Hart Lane so I can watch my team as much as possible. My boys Safwan, Zayd and Rayhan have now been recruited as Junior Spurs and have been lucky enough to be mascots, leading the mighty Spurs team out onto the hallowed turf.
Spurs now have three more fans who like me will support them through thick and thin and it is an honour to share my dream with my sons everytime we see our team play.
I have followed them all over the world for as long as I can remember without witnessing much success but they are my team and will always be my team. Through thick and thin, Forever Spurs.
Tom Taylor - Leyton Orient
I first made the trip to Brisbane Road as a seven-year old, when the stadium was old and crumbling and Orient had already been doomed to relegation into the old Endsleigh League Division Three.
That day I went to the mighty O’s with my dad. He pointed out someone who I did not recognise at the time but now I know is one of England’s pioneering black footballers. That man was Cyrille Regis.
Cyrille showed why he was once one of the best players in the country and played alongside former Orient legend and football icon Laurie Cunningham. His class ripped apart a woeful Orient as his team at the time, Wycombe Wanderers, cruised to a final day 1-0 victory.
While the disappointment of my first game ending in defeat swept my initial thoughts walking out of the ground, I knew one thing was for certain, I was hooked.
I’ve spent many a miserable, damp, cold Saturday afternoon and Tuesday evening in the East Stand watching some of the dourest football known to man, all in the pursuit of one day seeing an Orient side who filled me great pride.
19 years and three different stands later and it finally happened, only in typical Orient fashion for them to blow the opportunity of a lifetime and suffer the mother of all heartbreaking play-off defeats in May 2014.
But despite that, I wouldn’t change one bit of it. I’ve shared some magnificent highs and lows in my time, from two gut-wrenching play-off defeats at the Millennium Stadium and the aforementioned Wembley, to the absolute ecstasy of winning promotion back to the old Division Three (League One to our younger readers) in the dying seconds of the 2005/06 league season.
Going back to the original question – Why do I support Leyton Orient? Because The O’s have been a part of my life since I was 7 and quite frankly I wouldn’t know what to do without Brisbane Road and 11 men in red aimlessly running around trying to score.
Emma Whitney - Manchester City
I have a memory half-hidden in my brain, one where I’m asking my Dad, in the aftermath of Euro ’96, who we support. If he, in turn, hadn’t been indoctrinated in the City cause by my Granddad, things might have been very different.
Back in the day, you saw City at home one week, The Team That Shall Not Be Named at home the next. And, for quite a while, They had George Best. Yet my Dad saw something in the Blues, thanks in no small part to the mighty Neil Young. While my father enjoyed an embarrassment of City success growing up, I was bequeathed rather more frugal glory.
My first game at Maine Road encapsulated life as a City fan for the next decade perfectly; I may have witnessed a glorious Kinkladze free-kick, but then Jamie Pollock capped it all with one of the most memorable headers ever scored in a City shirt. Shame it was in his own net.
From one QPR match to another. Fourteen years later, we weren’t battling relegation to the third tier, we were doing something that I never dreamed I’d see City do – attempting to win the Premier League. After the ridiculousness of Wembley ’99, Keegan’s Cup Kings at White Hart Lane in 2004 and the humiliation of capitulating 8-1 to Middlesbrough in 2008, 13th May 2012 was uncharted territory. True, I’d seen us actually lift a major trophy in the previous year’s Cup Final, plus witnessed the ultimate fantasy of every City fan in October 2011; The score line 1-6 will forever hold a special place in my heart. This was different, though. We finally had the chance to put all that ‘typical City’ nonsense behind us and show the world we were a footballing force once more.
Despite nearly sending me insane, the QPR game made me realise one thing – how much I love City. I made a vow, as I’m sure most of us Blues did, when things were looking hideous; even if it finishes like this, and the owners, Mancini, Silva and everybody leaves; even if we get relegated and relegated and relegated again; even if we end up playing in the Conference North against Northwich Victoria under 9s – I don’t care. I love City.
They’re my team, my side, and I will always support them. I like to think that the footballing gods looked on such loyalty benevolently, duly allowing Džeko to equalize, paving the way for Martin Tyler’s commentary gold of ‘AGÜEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ Not that I want to take all the credit, you understand.
Nevertheless, that match illustrates why I support City. Our title-winning triumph of 2012 is being a Blue in microcosm, and I can’t get enough of it.
The nerves, the disbelief, the hope when Zaba’s fluky shot went in, the cruel twist of pain as QPR came back and we looked as if we would crumble. And then, the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. My one regret was that I watched the game at Uni, a solitary Blue amidst hoards of Reds and QPR fans. This May, I got to watch City be crowned Kings of England again, in the best fashion possible – with my Dad.
It’s very easy to come across as an arrogant, glory-hunting git now my wardrobe’s full of Champions shirts and other associated tat, but that would be to ignore the years I spent clinging to each and every Thomas Cook Trophy victory, all twelve of Samaras’s goals and SWP’s precious England call-ups. There was only ever one club for me, and living somewhat south of Manchester made me doubly determined to show my true colours.
I’m eternally grateful to my Dad and Granddad for pointing me in the right direction, and am proud that I stuck by the Blues, through all those years of anguish, madness and humour. Even if Sheikh Mansour had not come calling, supporting City would still be the best decision I ever made.
Kishan Parmar - Queens Park Rangers
I first stepped foot into Loftus Road before Christmas 2006. My cousin and I had received some money and we decided that we wanted to watch a team play. My father told me about QPR – my reaction was asking him what a QPR was?!
It was my first live game and the excitement was unbearable. I didn’t know anything about QPR but we got into the stadium and I immediately fell in love with the club. QPR were in a relegation battle and the resulting atmosphere was unbelievable. The fans were singing so loudly trying to galvanise the team.
When Martin Rowlands scored the only goal of the game for the superhoops, the stadium erupted and I realised that I was going to spend the rest of my life loving this club!
Some people ask me what it’s like being a season ticket holder at the club that you love and there are simply no words to describe it. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to support my local team, especially now that we’re back in the Premier League! Winning the Play Off Final was a relief after seeing us struggle in the Championship, especially because the final was up there as one of the best games I’ve ever seen!
Like Bircham said, you don’t support QPR for the good times. QPR is a family orientated club with a close set of fans; we suffer and celebrate together. The club does so much in the local areas and we are proud of both our club and community trust!
QPR isn’t just a club. It’s a community and a family that welcomes everyone into their home. If I wasn’t going to watch my club on a Saturday, I don’t know what I’d be doing!