In Argentina during the summer I got some interesting reactions to my being English: in one memorable episode a heavily-accented taxi driver launched into what he seemed to feel was a customary recital of a seven-minute Hamlet speech. Now, I am an English Literature student but unfortunately this just threw me – I was stuck between a kind of grin and a stifled snort – not sure quite what emotion was channeling either. I dropped him a couple of extra pesos as I clambered out, but it still plagues me as to whether or not I cheated the poor man. That episode was something of a one-off though.
More commonly, however, I would be greeted with a forceful “England! Manchester! Manchester City!” Now this I can handle. Blue as they come, and keen as a fresher, I am your girl when it comes to this game.
The Tevez saga? I was all over it. Those four goals by Aguero? Don’t even try me. Where do they play? Manchester – tick. Manager? Mancini – tick. Other players? Give me a sec… Club history? Hardly important.
I have to confess: I know next to nothing about ‘my’ team. ‘We’ could very well be first – or, top, rather (I’m sure ‘we’ are). Or ‘we’ could be sixth. Then again, ‘we’ve’ got (for now at least) The Tev, so I’m not sure how strong a possibility that is.
It’s not an unfounded allegiance: my mum’s side of the family hail from Stockport, with a confusing tradition in which the men support Manchester United; women, Manchester City. Essentially, for me, this was just another one of those sexist things: we got the bad team while the lads soldier on, red and roaring, with plenty to celebrate. All some clever peruse, I thought, to make us girls disinterested. Well, for the large part of my life it worked.
The male-female rivalry kept me lightly entertained by it at Christmas times perhaps, but unlike most admirable English valients, I was born with a limited capacity to launch into a forever tuneless song (why?), wave my arms in the air (why?), and possibly shout abuse to the guffaws and cackles of my companions, while my clearly more knowledgeable male cousins had a far better team. Just no point.
My how the tables turned over in Buenos Aires. I, the inglesa, was positively the connosieur. For those Argentines less vigilant about backing up their research, may be somewhat misconstrued on matters regarding results and general progress. But they will be fully aware, my friends, of my unparalleled allegiance to the team.
To my dismay a similar pursuit befell me when we moved to Loftus Road – it seemed I was to be doomed to another car crash of a local team too: QPR. I endured a game or two but it rained and on a good day ‘we’ equalised. Basically blue was just not my colour, and I couldn’t quite see the point in trying to make it so.
Fast forward a few years (+a few business deals, and a few league table shifts) and I am your girl for all things blue.
So far I have only hit one crippling hurdle: a quiz by Sirs Henry Strong, Jake Farrell, and the late (graduated) Peter Iveson, aka the Nouse Sports Force: “Who’s your favourite player?”
I felt smug – I even took my time to answer. No need to sound keen, I’ve got this one down: “Hernandez” – followed by a smirk and a recline.
“The United player?” quoth Iveson or Cowen – my memory, in the embarrassment, fails me.
Since then, however, I hate to break it to die-harders but I have mastered the art: two players, the goalie, an average league table position, got a chant under my belt (blue moon, Elvis – the pun goes down a treat). Forever a gloryhunter, never a fan. And I’m proud.