It's no secret that footy is a big part of my life and also plays an equally important role within the lives of my friends as well. Being a Manchester United fan, now, seems like a the homer pick given the type of fanbase which wear our colors and at times chant a song or two.
I became a Manchester United fan due to the fact I didn't want to support Arsenal because they were always being televised, I couldn't like Chelsea because there's really no history with their squad, and I couldn't be a Liverpool fan well... because if you remove the last "l", you have Liverpoo and no one wants that possibility hanging over them. To be fair, I enjoy most clubs except for Tottenlamb, only because everyone hates The Lambs, including their supports once any season is completed.
The quick synopsis bring me to the West Ham Hammers, a group of blue collar fans whose young are born ready to fight and blow bubbles within the same breath. The very first West Ham supporter I met here in town was my buddy Steve and if you know the both of us, there was a moment of "Who the fawk is this guy" on both ends of our first exchange.
I was making my way to the restroom on a semi busy day at a footy bar when I spotted a lone West Ham kit sitting and drinking (note to self, wash hands, exit bathroom, don't get punched in the throat this guy is much bigger than you). OF COURSE, my small ass exits the bathroom and immediately walks up to this guy and says, "Are you a real Hammer or just wearing the jersey", his chiseled face looking back at me as though we're in the only two in the bar replies, "F, yeah, why...?"
Look, I know my limitations, it's how I've made it to the ripe old age I am today; you learn not to poke the bear. I remember looking at this punk rock looking dude and thinking that his face looked awfully familiar, perhaps a lineup I'd seen, an FBI most wanted list, or... YEEEEEAH a bar fight. THIS WAS THAT DUDE, one of the revered faces and names in town, a hell-raiser, beer drinking, fist totin', footy lovin (evidently) dude and here I was asking about his footy allegiance!
The truth is that moment we both didn't back down from asking a few leading questions about who we follow and so on; I knew enough about the grit of West Ham to understand and respect that this guy was a true fan and he sized me up to understand that I was more than a talking head. There are many who do not fully grasp the level of pure energy it takes to be a fan and there are even more who do not care to engage in sports, which is fair, however, as I look across this town of ours, I can't help but think about the bonds which were created over a beer, whiskey, and countless hours of footy.
West Ham have defeated Manchester United in a couple of thrilling matches over the years and I've been the recipient of taunting but in the end love from Steve and a few other supporters of their club, not to forget Steve blowin' bubbles in my face too.
Today Manchester United face West Ham, actually in fifteen minutes, for one final time this season and it's a chance for us to move up the table just a bit more but most importantly, it's a chance to think about my buddy Steve and how much he'd love for his side to win today. I'd take a draw today if that would bring a grin to his face, I'd also take a win because it would bring joy to my day. What you think he'd want Manchester United to win just because I was gone? Haha, I miss you brother, #UNITED!