02.02.2022

The Highs and Lows What it means to be a football fan.

Supporting Manchester United has taught me everything.

It’s taught me how to laugh, how to cry, how to commune with my fellow man, how to be happy and how to be sad, and how to handle all the emotions that come with watching your team play football. No matter how they are doing. I mean it’s not like you can change teams when your club is losing. Supporting a team is not like choosing a brand of soap powder or shaving foam. You can’t move clubs because another team is more successful, or because the seats at the stadium are more comfortable, or even because you moved house and there is a more convenient place to watch nearby.

You must take the rough with the smooth. Thankfully, supporting a team like the Red Devils isn’t like supporting a lower league team that never wins anything – though it still can be painful. Like when our rivals Manchester City won the league in the dying seconds of the last game of the season a few years back. The highs and lows are part of the whole, the emotional jeopardy, the cheering, the chanting and yes, the weeping.

Football is like a great work of fiction in which you really don’t know what is going to happen. But you always have hope. And supporting a team, once chosen, is a choice made for life. I remember when it happened for me. It wasn’t like I had a choice to be fair. It was 3pm, Saturday afternoon, 1982, at Old Trafford. I was a wide-eyed innocent in my father’s wake, watching Manchester United at home. We’d walked to the stadium, or strided more-like with pride and excitement. And once there I was awestruck at every kick, scream and swear word. Later as a young teenager, I was still hooked, coming to the game with mates, gleefully and liberally squawking those same swearwords, learning the chants, and singing them vocally. Then in my early 20s still coming to the games, I am still there, a little more detached, more laconic and trying to pretend that I don’t care by laughing at my team’s failures but deeply hurting underneath.

I always remember what Eric Cantona said: “Football is one of life’s great teachers. It is one of life’s great inspirations.”

Supporting Manchester United gives me a sense of belonging and purpose. My fellow fans provide me with companionship, my weekends are always filled, I can let out all my emotions at a game, share in triumph and despair.

And that’s ultimately why Eric is right. Football is truly one of life’s great teachers and inspirations.

And when the King scored, it was practically orgasmic!

By Harry Flint, Manchester United fan from birth!

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