Adam Bird

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Monday, 10 March 2008

The Romance Returns

I haven't written a football related blog for a while and with the events of the past weekend I felt now was as good a time as any.

Life as a Gillingham fan has never been easy, but this season has been hardest by far. Results and performances have coincided with a time in my life where football has very much become a secondary factor. No longer does my life revolve around the buzz of a Saturday, the smell of hotdogs, cheap watered down beer and endless journeys up and down the M1 in search of three points.

Instead, Fridays are spent with a dying anticipation of spending time with Oliver, time which is scarce during the week where work commitments mean I am home just in time to say goodnight to Oliver and catch him at his most lethargic.

Expensive ticket prices, astronomic travel expenditures, whether it be fuel or train tickets mean that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to justify the outlay required to be fully fledged supporter, especially now that Stephanie and I are committed to the financial burden of the new house.

It is easy to hide behind the current results that the Gills have been enjoying, (or not in the case of the supporters!) Real life has overtaken the ideology that I subscribed too growing up whereby I would swear that Gills ruled supreme both on the pitch and within my soul, that I would be there when we were rubbish just as I was during the good times of the Championship era. That Gillingham Football Club was not about life and death, that it was more important than that.

Truth be known I started supporting the Gills when we really were rubbish, bottom of the entire football league and very nearly going out of business, a similar position to where we are now I suppose, what with our current deficit of a rumoured twelve million pound!

Football is essentially a love affair, with a team, a club, a set of people. It doesn't diminish, I love the Gills just as much as I have ever done. When we score I jump up and down as deliriously as the next man, although that tends to be my mate Reaso, whom not only causes slight reverberations around the stadium when he jumps around, but my bones need to be reset after one of his post goal hugs.

Coincidental my circumstances may seem, and indeed that have been, just as it was when my Dad first took me along with him. He had just witnessed the Peacock era, and the epic playoffs in 87. Taking me along, was probably a good idea in theory as it was at just the right time for an impressionable young kid to catch the 'football' bug. As it was, I did, as you can tell, but it wasn't to the success my Dad had enjoyed and in fact quite the opposite!

This is why during this lull of footballing priorities that there is still hope. Oliver won't be a baby, or indeed a toddler forever, and I cannot wait to take him to his very first Gillingham game! In fact, depending on the outcome of any further sexual activity between Stephanie and I, there may be a whole set of impressionable young men ready to catch the bug, thus the cycle repeating itself once over.

Using the romantic analogy that I hinted at before, life supporting a team, like your wife or girlfriend, starts in a flurry of excitement, all things are new and every moment something to cherish. Along the way there are obstacles, distractions, factors which influence your relationship that are outside of your control, but the fundamental core in which your relationship is built is still there, a love that is all encompassing and to those that haven't experienced it -unexplainable.

This is why, this weekend has been so great for football. Those supporters of Cardiff City, Barnsley, Portsmouth and West Brom each having there own set of circumstances that determine their respective relationships with their clubs.

Why right now, grown men, who have developed life long love affairs are being rewarded, and justifying there time and devotion to the cause. Real life will have encroached many times one way or another, but with the romance returning to the greatest cup competition of them all, fans of not only those four clubs, but for all us whose detachment to their clubs are not necessarily emotional but practical a little hope.

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