Over here in Blighty you will probably be familiar with The Premier League – assuming you are familiar with English football at all of course.
I would say British football but then that would include Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which, apart from Scotland’s Celtic and Rangers and Wales’ Swansea and Cardiff would just be a waste of time as, generally, teams from those places make the English national side look amazingly good which, sadly, it isn’t anymore.
Below the Premier League is The Championship. Worthy of a mention as former Premier League teams relegated spend time there trying to get promoted back. The standard of football in The Championship is generally reasonable to very good.
Below The Championship are Divisions 1 and 2 – formally known as Divisions 3 and 4 when The Championship was Division 2 and The Premier League Division 1 – still with me?
Contained within these lower leagues are the marvellously named football clubs Crewe Alexander and Accrington Stanley. There’s not much else to say about them really and they aren’t very good but they do have excellent names don’t you think?
Also in this twilight world of England’s favourite game are Oldham Athletic. My team.
You may ask why I support passionately a little known team from the nether regions of English football. You may not ask but I will explain none the less. It is entirely the fault of my Grandfather.
At the age of 5 or 6 he could have taken me to watch Manchester United resulting in me basking in years of domestic and European glory but he didn’t. He took me to watch Oldham resulting in me becoming a manic depressive at the age of 8 when I realised the likelihood of winning the little known ‘Ford Sporting League Trophy’ (although we did once) was unlikely never mind hosting the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid in European competition.
I once decided to change my allegiance to American Football the year it first appeared on British TV screens and selected The Miami Dolphins as ‘my’ team – they won the Super Bowl that year too! From then on they have won precisely nothing leaving them, in my mind, the American Football equivalent of Oldham Athletic.
The problem is I can’t change teams. I can’t suddenly develop a passion for Manchester United or Chelsea or some other successful team. Once your team has picked you via a father, sibling or, in my case grandfather taking you to a few games when you’re a small kid it’s too late.
I did forgive him long ago.
Any chance of the Dolphin’s winning anything anytime soon?
Nope? Thought not.
English football fans are a strange sort of under class of their own really. Manchester United fans think they’re grand, Liverpool fans are actually grand. Manchester City are finally out of the shadow of their illustrious neighbours after spending millions and now their fans are plain cocky. Arsenal fans have a permanent sense of superiority whilst Millwall fans chant “No one likes us and we don’t care” to the tune of Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’.
Oldham fans on the other hand are immune to depression – either that or they committed suicide years ago.
My grandmother once hit the then Oldham manager on the head with her walking stick back in 1974. Apparently Oldham failed to buy a player called Wilf Mannion somewhere in the 30’s or 40’s despite the honest burghers of Oldham donating much money to assist in his purchase. My grandmother gave £5 (a substantial sum back then) but Oldham never bought him and nobody knew where the money went.
4 or even 5 decades later my grandmother assaulted the Oldham manager with her walking stick and, as he fell to the ground with a more bemused than pained expression she announced to him haughtily “THAT’S FOR MANNION!”
My grandmother the football hooligan.
“Oldham boys we are here, sh*g your women and drink your beer wooohooo wooohooo” as we chanted away in the Chaddy End all those years ago.
It was football Jim. Really it was. Just not as we know it.