8:30 PM Monday 30 April 2012 Nunhead Heights
Tonight is the big match between Manchester United and Manchester City. I am supporting United.
If I had been born in England I doubt I would have chosen to follow football. I found out too late that football is very “working class”. And I don’t like anything or anyone who calls itself or themselves “working class”.
Team sports in America are not class specific. Americans don’t even have classes: We have poor people, people with some money and rich people. If you come from a family who came on the Mayflower but you are broke, you are not Upper Class no matter what accent you have, what books you read or where you went to university. If your father is a patent attorney and you grew up in one of the richest towns in America and went to the tenth most expensive university in the USA but you live in an ex-council flat in Nunhead and barely make enough to pay your heavily discounted mortgage, you’re poor.
The rich and poor Americans follow baseball, basketball and football. The sole team sport that may be an exception is soccer. The middle class mothers – middle class economically and not middle class socially – think that soccer is gentler than the other sports and softer for their children. And the way they play soccer in America, it probably is. American killers don’t play soccer. If Roy Keane were born in Texas he would have been a baseball pitcher with a viscous fastball aimed at the hitter’s head.
All work is honorable and noble and necessary, including being a coal miner or a dishwasher, but surely there are better things one would want to do. Claiming to be “working class” is nothing to be proud of. You’re making working with your hands a genetic trait, a culture or a religion, or maybe all three.
If you were ahead of the curve you would know the latest place to live, the right technology to learn and the up and coming business to get into. You wouldn’t have been at the mercy of Margaret Thatchers.
The poshest and the most successful people in England don’t follow football. They follow cricket or southern rugby – Rugby Union? Then again, I don’t like the upper class toffs in this country, either.
The posh people are behind the curve too, trying to hold onto to their shit at the expense of moving forward. Look at the royals with their rituals and possessions.
The highest value in England is to pass on to your children the shit your ancestors’ left you or the stuff you made yourself. If you don’t leave the castle to the 16th Earl of Somewhere you’re considered a wastrel. If you succeed you can rest in death. That is why the Queen is so respected. She has held onto her stuff and is secure it will be handed down.
In America you had better give your wealth away before you die because your children aren’t going to want to be known as “rich kids”. Who wants to be seen as inheriting Bill Gates’ money? Believe it or not, Paris Hilton actually made all her own money. And Bernie’s daughter Tamara Ecclestone gets no respect in the USA, I am sure of that. Based on the English ideology I will die a success because I was left nothing by my parents and I will pass on the same to my children.
Somewhere in between the working class and the upper class mentality are the best people of England. People like Simon Cowell, David Beckham, and Christopher Hitchens. Alan Sugar had it before he went all House of Lords.
Back to football.
When I first came to the UK I only knew of three football teams: Fulham – because an English friend had taken me to a game in the late 1980s and I remember being herded through barricades of police horses to Craven Cottage – mental; Nottingham Forest because I noticed the name in when the New York Times printed the old Division One table in the 1970s and thought it’s name was cute and it was in a middle position in the table; and finally, Manchester City. That is the truth. I would look at the tables and think: Where is the London team?
In the mid-90s I befriended a Man City supporter on a boat going down the Napo River, Ecuador, a tributary of the Amazon. Don’t ask what I was doing there. Actually, I was just avoiding work.
The way he explained it Man City was like the New York Mets, my team. City were the second team in town and Manchester United was like the New York Yankees. I used to hate the Yankees and their out-of-town front-running fans in their Yankee hats. Actually, when I was growing up, the Mets weren’t that poor a team but I had inherited my hatred of the Yankees from my Brooklyn Dodger fan father. When the Dodgers were stolen by Los Angeles he switched allegiances to the new team, the Mets. [After seeing how supporters in Britain relate to other teams, I cannot say I truly hated the Yankees the way Sunderland hates Newcastle or Chelsea hates Arsenal or everyone hates Millwall.]
When I arrived in this country, I kept on supporting the underdog and naturally rooted for Man City. But something happened along the way and it was before I read United’s manager Alex Ferguson’s autobiography.
Why shouldn’t I give full respect for an organization that is well run? Why shouldn’t I support a manager who has won with ostensibly different teams over three decades? Why shouldn’t I support people who made their money the old fashioned way: They earned it?
I had made the mistake of falling in love with football but I could pick and choose the team I wanted. And now I want to support a team that wins fairly and prudently. And I want to love a team because are winners. That team is Manchester United.
And I will support Man U until they start losing. The idea of sticking with something that isn’t working is so working class and so upper class. I am going to dump them. I can do that because I’m not from here.
I could never dump the Mets.
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