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Avoiding supporting a sporting lemon

by John Iannantuono on Aug 16, 2011

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Well, it seems I’ve got a case of the Julia’s. I’m a hypocrite.

Just as our PM has a penchant for saying one thing and doing another, it seems I’m no longer in a position to throw stones after committing an act I was hell-bent on avoiding: choosing the team of choice for my newborn.

Those that know me are aware of my belief in the freedom of choice when it comes to selecting one’s team. I exercised this right last year when Melbourne Heart popped up on the A-League scene. Back in 2004-2005, I wasn’t a fan of John O’Neill riding into town to tell me that if I — along with any other football fan — wanted to get behind the new competition, then Melbourne Victory was the team for me, along with anyone else who lived in the state of Victoria.

The thing is, apart from sharing the same home city, Victory and I had very little in common. I wasn’t a fan of its playing system and had next to no knowledge of its football philosophy. I supported the team during the first few years and cheered the players on, but can’t really say I had any emotional connection with it.

So once it was announced that a second Melbourne club would be joining the competition, all of a sudden ‘choice’ was put back into my hands. I had the chance to weigh up the philosophies and values of both clubs, and at the end of it, choose the one that I connected with.

As American sportswriter Bill Simmons once wrote, choosing a team to follow is like buying a new car. ‘If you don’t do your homework, you could end up with a lemon’. Imagine, then, if the choice is taken out of your hands and you end up supporting the likes of Torino, Nottingham Forest or any other once great club now summoned to a life below the poverty line.

Talk about tough luck…

Well, you think this writer thought about any of the above when I made the rash decision to declare Liverpool as the club of choice for my four-week-old daughter? Absolutely not.

Intoxicated by the excitement of the new English Premier League season kicking off and moved by the ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ anthem as I held her in my arms, it seemed fitting at the time that Liverpool should be the option.

Additionally, I was yet to pledge my allegiance to an English club (I was brought up on a staple of Italian football), so with father and daughter without a team to follow, you could hardly blame the sentimentality of the occasion.

Unless you change your mind as often as Chelsea changes coaches, choosing a team to follow is a once in a lifetime affair.

Once the decision is made and that first jersey purchased, you seldom backtrack. I’m happy, therefore, to declare myself a Liverpool fan. I’m also keen to keep the walls inside my glass house in tact, so will allow my daughter to drift away from the pack like a Brazilian footballer defecting to Qatar.

In the meantime, we’ll never walk alone.