I believe I’m mad about football. Still. In many ways that’s true.
This summer has been a little different, though. During the last three summer’s I was knee deep with WaiBOP United in what was then called the ASB Premiership. As the franchise’s media guy, and having been involved at their inception, I was at every home game and many away games. I was immersed in the franchise all week too. And loved it.
Our final season coincided with twice-a-week live coverage on Sky Sport, so I was able to watch not only WaiBOP but also some of the other teams in the league. I made a point of it, even ensuring I had the telly tuned to the live games I wasn’t interested in just to do my little bit to help with the ratings.
But it meant I missed a lot of important family stuff. I can see that now.
This summer’s been a bit different and it’s been great. Hamilton Wanderers were handed WaiBOP United’s national league license midway through our final season. I had mixed feelings, given I’d invested so much into WaiBOP United, but I’ve managed to get over all that.
I had every intention of at least making it to most of Wanderers’ home games, to show my support for local football. I mean, they’re in Hamilton so, like WaiBOP’s games, easy to get to. But I’ve never quite managed it.
In fact, as I write this Wanderers are about to kick off their latest game against Team Wellington at what will probably be a deserted FMG Stadium Waikato. During the week I had a brief thought, in passing, that it might be a good idea to head over for a look…but instead I’m sitting here writing about not going and thinking about lots of other stuff (while retweeting the occasional update for WaiBOP Football, the Federation Wanderers are a part of and the organisation I’m the Communications Manager of. I’m still human…).
Then there’s the Wellington Phoenix. I’ve religiously followed them since their inception. Most summer’s I’ve been to at least one live game in Wellington, along with matches in Auckland and Napier.
This summer they’ve already played home games in Hamilton and at Mt Smart Stadium in South Auckland and…nah, too hard. In fact, I’ve only watched a few of their games on TV.
It’s interesting. I guess, as I age/mature, competing demands and responsibilities take hold. During the summer the family wants to head to the beach or the lake or somewhere else. My wife, who’s been a football widow in the past, is maybe getting some of her own lost time back too.
Don’t get me wrong. My passion for Tottenham Hotspur still burns as painfully bright as ever. To be fair, they’ve been a bit easier to follow over the last few seasons but still, it’s been an interesting ride. I’ve watched many more Spurs games live – at crazy northern hemisphere hours – than Phoenix games Tottenham is my team. Well, them and the Swifts. I guess that makes me one of these guys. (As an aside, there’s also shit like this coming from some of their fans that make you think the Yellow Fever are a bunch of whiney prats and make them just that bit tougher to like.)
At a more local level, it’s amazing how indifferent my feelings towards Wanderers and even the re-badged Stirling Sports Premiership have become. As someone who’s heavily involved with a club from the same region, well, I have my own ‘Wanderers stories’. Administrators, players, coaches from across the region all have their own ‘Wanderers stories’.
They’re hard to like, at times, let alone care enough about to support on a weekly basis. Of course, if everyone likes you then you’re not doing things right, so this one’s more about me than them.
The respect for what they’re doing is, of course, definitely there. Like all clubs they have some superb people behind the scenes who’ve helped them reach the level they have. But it’s nice not to have another team I care enough about whose results can potentially screw up my weekend. Thirty five years plus of supporting Spurs have given me more than enough of that.
So, what does this all mean? I still have Spurs and the Swifts. I’m a football administrator at heart but I find I’m even trying to do a bit less of that as the seasons go by. With the kids starting to play now my interest is moving more and more towards coaching so the training pitch is probably where you’ll find me over the next decade or so.
I guess there’s only so much energy to go around. Family, my business, the part-time WaiBOP gig, Swifts football, only shaving once a week…life’s pretty busy. There’s no way I could (or would want to) invest over 1000 hours in my club as I did for several years in the early part of this decade.
I’m still a football nut. Bloody mad about the game – that will never change, I’m sure. But it’s impossible to do everything. So I’ll just try to do what I can with the things I care the most about at the time I care a lot about them.
And that will be enough.
Right, I’m off to the lake.
*No, I could never have a summer completely without football. But it sounded like a catchy heading.