Support your local(ish) team

IMG_4288YOU SHOULD always support your local football club.

I made that noble pronouncement for most of my adult life. Right until I had my own family.

My friend Nick predicted that would be the case. Long before Boy Wonder was born, Nick had a son and promptly enlisted him in Everton Juniors.

I scoffed. ‘You live in Sussex, mate, why not bring him up as a Brighton fan. It’s a lovely little set-up, just down the road from you. You should always support your local club.’

He scoffed. ‘My Dad supports Everton, I support Everton, my kids will support Everton. Wait until you have some of your own. Don’t tell me you’ll bring them up as Leeds fans?!’

Well, as Nick now knows, the answer is a firm no.

Tomorrow, I’m taking Boy Wonder to Middlesbrough to see his first ever live game. In a delicious twist of fate, ‘DaddyBoro’ are at home to (Dirty) Leeds.

A good win for the home team should not only entrench Boy Wonder’s love of ‘our team’ but also hopefully extinguish any association with the club of his birthplace.

Just to be sure, I’m buying him a magazine for the train journey north, a Boro hat and pin badge. I’ve promised him a proper breakfast, half-time pie and fish n’ chips before we return later in the day.

My friend Chris, a fellow Boro fan, isn’t sure it’s such a bargain:

Consigned to a life of misery, ridicule and unfulfilled promise with a pie and a hat.

He might be right but I think luck is on my side. After five years of mid-table mediocrity in the second tier of English football, Boy Wonder has come of age at exactly the moment we’re top of the league and gunning for a return to the razzmatazz of the Premiership.

Yes, that makes us glory supporters but in today’s world of accelerated gratification it’s my best shot of signing him up to my tribe.

Our anthem is Steel River. Our hero remains a Brazilian who isn’t much taller than Boy Wonder. In 1986, when I was 14, we went out of business. The impoverished town put its collective hand down the back of the sofa to help the club stay afloat and a 26-year-old local businessman did the rest. He’s still our chairman.

Steve Gibson will undoubtedly agree that you should always support your local football club.

Given his global outlook, running an international haulage firm, I’m equally sure he’d agree that ‘one of your local football clubs’ is fine as well.

Especially when it means your Dad can go to the match.


Labour pains – is this my midlife crisis?

FOR A time today, I considered the possibility of becoming a politician. The Labour Party is encouraging non-party members from the business world to apply for coaching as a councillor or even a MP at the next election.

It was a tempting idea and I had a good think about my suitability and prospects.

I care about fairness and social justice. I grew up on a council estate in a post-industrial town in the north east. I was the first in my family to attend university (as was the Duchess). I mostly read the Guardian, support lost causes (not least Middlesbrough FC), give to charity. I cut my professional teeth at a global blue-chip and for the last seven years I’ve had an inside view of a big Government agency charged with increasing affordable housing (a potential vote-winning issue). I work in communications, so I understand the media, the possibilities of technology, the art of promotion. The Duchess  and I have already began indoctrinating our children in The Ways of the (Centre) Left.

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Forty years and forty delights

THIS WEEKEND I TURNED 40. I officially became a Middle-Aged Dad. No one really looks forward to the Big Four Oh-No but a few days on I’m pretty relaxed about it all.

It certainly helped that my lovely little family, led by the imaginative if now bankrupt Duchess, presented me with a gift for each year of my life.

The gifts came in different boxes, each representing a stage of my adult life. Each bore a tag offering a clue. It was, without doubt, the most amazing, thoughtful array of presents I’ve ever received.

It’s a bit indulgent but I thought I’d share the list, as it gives a (strongly alcoholic) flavour of my 40 years, as well as proving what a lucky and loved old man I am:

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Another trip to the play centre

It’s my last day of paternity leave – boo hoo hoo – so I thought I’d treat myself by escorting Boy Wonder to a soft play centre. After all, it’s been a whole three days since we last visited one and I’ve been slack these past three weeks by frequenting these junior fun palaces a mere seven times.

We return to a big site near Wetherby, which is called something like Little Toes or Bite Your Toes or Little Shits.

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