Ask any dedicated football supporter and they will tell you that supporting a football club is not just about the enjoyment – and heartbreak – of watching a sport. It’s about being a part of something bigger than ourselves: a family, a community and a grand story of loss, victory and hope. Here are some of the most valuable gifts that supporting my club has given me over the years:
As a young fox in the 80s
I have been a Leicester City supporter since the 1980s. I went to every match, home and away, in the Martin O’Neill era and skipped school to watch us lose 3-1 to Grimsby away. The win at Wembley in 1996 against Crystal Palace was one of the highlights of my school days. Even moving away from the Midlands didn’t stop me from going to matches. I travelled back from Scotland for matches when we were in League One and kept my season ticket when I lived in Bologna. I’m sure many Leicester fans could tell similar stories of dedication. But this is a two-way street. I’ve moved around so much – from Leicestershire to Durham to Oxford to Edinburgh to Bologna to Manchester and back to Leicestershire again - and had so many different jobs – from mechanics’ assistant in my Dad’s garage to forest ranger to zoo keeper to librarian to travel writer to warehouse worker to musician. My football family has been one of the most constant things in my quite transient, unpredictable life. This kind of stability keeps me grounded.
Celebrations at the club
Legends I hear people speak of my club’s ‘legendary’ Premier League win of 2016, when we beat 5000/1 odds to lift the trophy for the first time in our history. But the legends and folklore of football go beyond this to include the history of the city – and the country – itself. That same record-breaking victory is linked to the change of fortune that had started in the previous season, when the club pulled off the “Great Escape” from relegation. These events exactly coincided with the reburial of the bones of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral in 2015 after they were found in a council car park in Leicester. Having been bottom of the Premier League at Christmas, the Foxes’ dramatic change in form came just days after the bygone King’s funeral and the club went on to escape relegation. The next Christmas, they were top of the Premier League, going on to win the title. There are those who say this was Richard’s way of thanking the city that had granted him the dignity of a peaceful resting place.
With my Dad at the King Power Stadium
Community My Dad has been taking me to watch Leicester since the days of Gary Lineker and some of my best friendships have grown strong along with the highs and lows of the football season. I wrote my original song, Fox in the City, in 2015 about being a part of this community; this was before we had even achieved our historic Premier League win. The death in 2018 of Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha shocked our football family, but the strength of community feeling among the club and supporters is a testament to his work in our city.
Listen to my song about my favourite football club here:
What are some of your favourite things about being a football supporter? Let me know in the comments!