Tuesday, 25 August 2009


I think my son Joe might support Liverpool. This is the worst crisis to rock my parent life.

When I was a kid I didn’t have a say in the football team I supported. My family are from Salford and the North West and everyone supported Manchester United ergo I support Manchester United. It doesn’t matter that I was born in Leicester, lived in Sheffield and went to school near Cardiff because I HAD to support Manchester United. To be fair though they’ve been an easy team to support, apart from the 92-94 green and yellow away kit and those hellish Ralph Milne wilderness years but lest said soonest mended as far as that is concerned, I think.

The fact remained though that I wasn’t able to support Leicester City, Sheffields’ Wednesday or United, or City’s Cardiff or Swansea simply because by the time I moved to any of these places I had already checked into the warm and rather fragrant hotel of MUFC. In fact, I was probably lounging on the kingsize bed in the Steve Coppell suite wearing my monogrammed pyjamas and wondering how many miniature shampoos I could pinch.

A couple of weeks ago Joe came downstairs while I was watching a Champions League match and asked if he could watch it too. Man United were playing and we cheered them on together. Truly it was a wonderful father and son moment, forever bathed by the warm, sepia sunshine in the garden of my happy memories.

The next day we were kicking a ball about in the garden and I said that we should pretend to play for Manchester United. All was going well until Mrs B came outside and said that she would play football with us only she wanted to play for Liverpool. Immediately Joe said the words that burned through my soul...

‘Daddy, I’m going to play for Liverpool too.’

Just in case you are unfamiliar with the lie of the land re: Man United and Liverpool then here’s the short hand.

The two teams do not really see eye to eye very much.

I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard fan by any stretch but supporting MUFC has shaped my life. I have a fascination with the number 7, a love of men called Bryan and, and I’m not proud of this I’m really not, a freakish, knee-jerk hatred of Liverpool FC (it is not hard as hell Mr John Barnes thank you very much).

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the nine circles of hell as depicted in the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Inferno begins with circle one, Limbo, where the unbaptised and those who haven’t accepted Christ into their life reside. Then we go from circles 2 through to 9 where the very worst of the worst of history spend eternity in perpetual damnation. Dante has it that at the bottom of the ninth circle, the very worst that humanity has offered, is Judas completely encaptured in ice and distorted in all conceivable positions. Then trapped beneath Judas is Satan himself. However, all Man united fans know that there is another, tenth layer beneath Satan’s buttocks where the most dismal creatures exist. Barely human these tenth circle hellhounds go by the name Liverpool supporters.

Now, so much Anfield poison has been dripped into Joe’s ear that whenever we kick a ball together I have to be Manchester United and he has to be Liverpool.

I realise I only have myself to blame because I’ve let things slide. Really basic thing too. Other Man Utd dads that I know already have their three year olds reciting United’s current first team, chanting songs about Scholes scoring goals, even reminiscing about that night at the Nou Camp in 99.

So realising that drastic problems call for drastic thingamajigs, I know now what I have to do. I have a plan that I must see through. It won’t be pretty but it just might save the boy that I love from a fate worse than death, namely having to support Liverpool for the rest of his life...

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