I know people who have supported the same team all their lives. They move house, their lives change for the better or worse but there is one constant: their team. It turns out I haven't been like that. I'm not proud of that except insofar as I've never changed my allegiance to chase success – in many ways quite the opposite.
Let me take you back to the sixties.
Dad took me to see the local team, Bedford Town FC. They were playing Romford at home, The Eyrie, in the Southern League. This was, it turns out, quite the collector's piece, as in a few years neither club existed and The Eyrie (so-called because Bedford Town were The Eagles – or was it the other way round?) was rubble and history. *
We moved away and I spent some formative years following Luton Town during which I saw them play in all four divisions of The Football League. Triumph and Disaster, but mostly mooching about in Division 2. I missed their most successful years in the 80s though, because I'd become fed-up with football in general, I didn't live there any more and then there were restrictive membership schemes and a plastic pitch…
… so I started , on the recommendation of a friend who I think is no longer with us 😦 travelling to see Barnet FC at Underhill. This looked like a bad move as the club were struggling in the newly-inventedAlliance Premier Football League, since known as the Conference, but good years followed as the club strove for and eventually achieved promotion to the league. At the time I started going there were 4 divisions between my lost love and my new, which was semi-professional. How was I supposed to know that in the 2000s they'd be playing each other as equals, and in fact there would be a couple of seasons during which Barnet would occupy a higher division? I'd have laughed at you.
When Barnet were playing too far away I'd go & see other local clubs such as Wealdstone F.C. ** (who had a sad tale to tell which confirmed my loathing for Watford FC), Edgware Town **, Northwood Town ** … I knew my way around non-league in NW London!
Come 2000 though I was living miles away with a new partner and I stopped going to any football. From a distance, I saw Barnet drop back out of the League, rise back up and back out again. I "followed their results". I still do. I saw Luton run into the ground by incompetents and crooks, and then rise again.I "followed their results". I still do.
We moved to the South coast last year and I started watching the lovely Hastings United **(@hastingsufc).Despite results not going to plan I'm enjoying it. And there's no overlap: we're 4 & 3 divisions below those other 2 and they'll never meet.
Surely they won't?
* of course both clubs have since re-formed, and Bedford's current ground is "The New Eyrie" or nowadays just "The Eyrie". They're both in Wikipedia.
** I'm not providing links to all these clubs: they're all eminently searchable and all in Wikipedia. ***
*** I do not work for Wikipedia.
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