Something weird has happened: I’ve, out of nowhere, become a little bit excited that the Premier League starts tomorrow. I don’t even really know why; I’ve always liked football, but never really loved it. But as I was reading the Guardian’s sport section earlier, I realised that this time I am actually, genuinely interested.
Aside from a bit of a dalliance with Fulham at the beginning of the century, borne out of a family visit to Craven Cottage and that ground’s proximity to my nan’s south-west London flat, I haven’t properly followed a football team since I was about 12.
I was all about mid-table perennial under-achievers Tottenham Hotspur back then, the team inexplicably riding on the back of a few years of actually winning some shiny stuff. As soon as I decided they were the team for me, though, they didn’t win shit. In fact they were shit. Has Harry Redknapp turned things around, bringing back Defoe and the rest? Doesn’t matter. Because I liked them, it’s written in the scriptures that they’ll finish 12th. For the rest of time.
Ditto Fulham. They climbed up the lower leagues, received an intravenous injection of cash from the world’s most famous passport-hunting Egyptian and careered headfirst into the top flight. I got on board the season before they hit the big time, and, because of that, the best they’ve done is seventh place.
And Cheltenham Town. I went to university in the Gloucestershire spa town, and so took a passing interest in the team’s progress. They too were on a bit of a league-climbing run, and got to the final 16 of the FA Cup in 2002. But none of that mattered because I was interested, so down they went.
This keeps happening. I lived in Brighton for a bit. My girlfriend at the time’s dad was a big fan, so I tried to join in. I was a part-time Brighton and Hove Albion fan, a pseudo-Seagull. In 2002, they were one league away from the Premiership, but guess what? Because I cared, even just a bit: boom, they crashed and burned.
So back to this season. I don’t have any specific allegiances, I don’t really gamble and I haven’t made a little team on my computer for submission to any of those fantasy leagues, so as it stands there are 18 teams who I haven’t committed to a future of mid-table purgatory.
But, as I said, I am interested, and at some point I’ll no doubt develop a reason to be more about one team than another, which will not be good news for that team. And, for all the Chelsea haters out there, I live just across the river… so you never know.