What a tangled web my soccer fan hood has woven

Alex Livesey

Oh boy! Where do I start with my long journey to City fandom? Well let’s begin when I was a kid. Growing up I played soccer in my youth. While it is, albeit a biased opinion, I was pretty good; basically, a striker with an affinity for the Pele in-and-out move and the Ronaldo (Brazilian Ronaldo) airplane celebration. But my mom always told me I was great sweeper, which is probably why I love Vinny so much. Anyway, my love for soccer would always peak around the World Cup. Since it was only played once every four years, soccer really didn’t hold the focus of my short attention span. Given the lack of soccer coverage in America at the time, I wouldn’t hear about or focus on soccer until the next World Cup.

Sadly a couple of things happened that took me away from my short soccer career. First, there was the start of a youth football in my town (after decades of none), and it seemed like every athletic kid in town got involved. At the same time, Hollywood released Remember the Titans. For those not familiar with the movie, I’ve linked to the trailer below. It was a great football movie; trust me, it got my juices pumping, as much as one movie can for an 11 year old kid. So, as you can imagine, American football took over for me, putting soccer in the rear view mirror. Looking back now and knowing how I am built (physically) this was a HUGE mistake, and I regret it to this day. Oh well, live and learn.

Fast-forward to 2006, and the World Cup in Germany. After such an action packed tournament, I was hooked. I needed to get back into soccer, but I didn’t know how. Enter my family trip to Ireland a year later. With World Cup memories still fresh in my mind and FIFA World Cup 2006 in my PSP, I was a kid on a mission to find an EPL team to follow. Growing up, I had a friend who was a die-hard United fan, and I had always played with them in FIFA because I could win every game. Yeah, I was that kid. But, I knew I didn’t want to be the typical American soccer fan: “Oh, I cheer for Man U.” I’m already a Yankee fan, so I didn’t need another person telling me I’m a front runner; nothing like that for this emotional teenager! With that in mind, I decided my choice would be between the winner of the two teams playing in the first Premier League game I watched on TV. That game happened to be Sunderland at home against Tottenham. Although Sunderland lost the game 1-0, their kit sponsor at the time was “Boyle Sports” and I couldn’t not cheer for the team that bore my surname on its jersey, could I? No way!

There it was, I thought; I’m a Sunderland fan. Fast forward to like a week after we returned from our vacation. I completely lost track of my “fan hood” and, to make a long story short, with it, my “love” for Sunderland.

In 2008, my mom came home one day with videos from a co-worker. One was entitled Green Street Hooligans and she told me the co-worker thought I’d enjoy watching it. I put it on and was instantly hooked; a fight scene in the first minute? LOVE IT, sign me up, I’m a West Ham fan. With my love of FIFA hitting an all-time high, I headed to the sticks to play with West Ham: my new team. Well, after getting them confused with Aston Villa a couple times and playing with Portsmith because of Benjani, I started to find my favorite players: Craig Bellamy, Stephen Ireland, Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez and many others. As I began to play more and more, my focus was International Soccer. Most prevalent was the 2008 Euros taking front and center on ESPN while I was at home. I saw the likes of David Silva and Nasri, two names I remembered from my FIFA-ings. I liked both players because of their names. That may seem like a dumb reason to like a player, but I was looking for something to latch on to!

As my newfound love for soccer and FIFA began to grow, I was determined to find a team now that EPL games were being broadcast on ESPN from time-to-time. My search ended in 2009, as Manchester City came to be the only team I would play with in FIFA. Why? Because they had ALL of my favorite players; Tevez, Kompany, Adebayor (touchy subject, I know), Wright-Phillips, Toure (yes, Kolo at the time), Bellamy, de Jong, Benjani, Micah Richards, Pablo, Ireland, Vieira and others but that would take a paragraph. Vieira is from my days of playing FIFA on the computer; I’d always play as them against my Man U loving friend, because it made him mad if he lost ;). I did a funny little photo grid of my favorite players from then to today, my how 5-6 years can change your tastes!

Throughout that year, I would occasionally check to see how City was doing, mostly right outside of 4th. The first live game I watched that season was the second to last game against Tottenham. Knowing nothing of what that game meant, I listened to the commentators hoping to grasp the importance of this game to my new team. As the pre-game was going on, they mentioned this game being a Champions League play-off. Whatever guy; just let me watch City win. As we know, that didn’t happen and when my dad came home that day I acted like an expert on how tough a loss it was for the team and all that. He’ll laugh when he reads this because, obviously, I didn’t know shit about the disappointment it brings the longtime fans of the team. But what this game did to me was make me a true fan. I was hooked on City from then on. From watching the 6-1 beating of Manchester United while lying in my bed laughing, to seeing us bow out too early from the Champions League, I couldn’t get enough of City. I have been privileged to see the best of City compared with the experience of many longtime fans, but it’s the past frailties and drama that I love to read about. That was City, and that will never be forgotten. I laugh now, because when I used to tell my people that I was a City fan, I would face either a look of bewilderment and “don’t you mean Manchester United,” or laughs. Now, I tell people and they give me a look of disgust and a simple “of course you are.” I love to ask people who they root for after that moment and the response is usually; Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal or Liverpool. Okay, who’s really the asshole now, huh? Haha.

The moral of this journey is that my love for video games and cool names led me to loving Manchester City; the greatest football club in the world :).

Now, Blues, what are your stories to Manchester City fan hood? We'd love to hear from you!

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