The Football Family

The days before sponsorship...

The days before sponsorship…

Monday. A text arrives from the Beloved Daughter. Our final bills payment is due this week. Would you be able to transfer me £75? Then it starts again.

Of course, darling, there’s nothing I’d like more. And I’d be distraught if it didn’t ‘start again.’

Tuesday. Another text. Do you fancy going to the play-off finals?

Hang on. Yesterday she needed money to pay bills. Today she has enough to go to Wembley. Or am I’m being stupid? Maybe the text translates as Would you like to take me to the play-off finals?

Not this year, I tactfully reply. You need money: your brother needs money: another year. When it’s Wolves vs. Owls.

Yep, she’s become an Owl. Three years in Sheffield and she’s a Wednesday supporter. I was hoping that would happen. Owls or Blades, I wasn’t fussed. Both proper football clubs – and both a fine antidote to her early flirtation with Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo’s six pack.

But apparently my hugely optimistic prediction won’t be happening…

Owls gunna get promoted this year.

There’s passion for you. But I’ll have divided loyalties come Saturday:  my Dad was a Hull City supporter. But now it’s Jessica the Owl.

And I hope they cause her plenty of pain over the years.

Bluntly I have no time for people who support successful teams. When you’re seven or eight a winning team is fine. You can wear the shirt, Dad will go in goal and you can pretend you’re Diego Costa. (There’s a crisis, eh? ‘We’ve failed as parents. He wants to be Diego Costa when he grows up.’)

Anyway, Chelsea have made it right this season and that’s as it should be.

As you get older a football team only has one purpose and that’s to cause you pain. To tease you with the occasional season of hope, to fool you into thinking your new manager is Fergie Mark II – and then to miss promotion with an 89th minute own goal on the last day of the season.

So Jessica’s in for some pain. What about the rest of the family?

Jane was basking in the Portsmouth sun when I dragged her back to my cave in the frozen Northlands. She used to drive past Fratton Park every day. Why is she not a passionate Pompey fan?

The agony she could have suffered over the past few years. An FA Cup win bought at the expense of a headlong rush into what real men still call Division Four. The anguish of the play-offs. But no, she was deaf to the Pompey chimes. “That’s nice,” she says when I tell her they’ve put four past Notts County. But there’s no punching the air, none of her daughter’s passion.

Meanwhile Tom wears his heart on his sleeve as fiercely as Jurgen Klopp. And yes, the therapy is finally working. Four years on, I’ve come to terms with my son  supporting Liverpool.

I was worried they might be in for a long period of success under the mighty Klopp. But thanks for Wednesday night, Sevilla.

The trouble is, the boy is blinded with optimism for next season. “Not in Europe,” he mutters to himself. “No midweek games. Top two for sure…”

Youth, you see. The fire of hope still burns… If only he’d chosen Spurs.

Back at home, Ben floats serenely above it all. No interest. The Euros? He wouldn’t watch if they were played in the back garden.

He’s saved himself a lifetime of pain. But he’ll never know the joy of that one season in twenty. The season it all clicks. The season your team plays like Gods. The season you’re Leicester City…

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and “very, very funny” to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here


  1. As a lifelong season-ticket holder at Burnley, I think I can claim to be an authority when it comes to football pain. (I do remember watching them in the ‘4th division’ and almost dropping out of the league altogether in 1987). Recent times, however, have been much brighter.

    I’ve just found your blog and enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

    • Thanks for the comment, Gary. Have a bit of a soft spot for Burnley as my best mate at school was a Burnley fan. Lost touch with him now but always check their results – and backed them for the Champ this year so a double incentive. But pain? I was a Scarborough season ticket holder for years – I was doing the PA the night we beat Chelsea 3-2 – and the pain when the club ceased to exist was dreadful. There’s probably a PhD for a Psychology student in it. Anyway, glad you enjoy the blog – next week is on Biblical plagues – and all the best for next season in the Prem.

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