They say a New Year should bring a new challenge, so I’ve gone all out this year and given myself the biggest of them all – a new baby. Baby Cara was born in November. She’s happy, healthy and thriving, which is all great.
The big question is, who will she support? I am, of course, a lifelong West Ham fan. My husband, on the other hand, is a Man United supporter. Well, this is awkward. My Dad’s side of the family is all firmly claret and blue, there was going to be very little option for me growing up, especially living in Romford. So my path to a lifetime of ups and downs was pretty straightforward.
My husband wasn’t necessarily a ‘glory hunter’, so I accept his decision to go red. His older cousin was already a Man United fan, so there was an existing influence in the family. He has also admitted that the Eric Cantona collar was a particular fashion that he gravitated to, so the deal was sealed that he would follow this stylish Frenchman.
You can see our dilemma. We’ve both grown up dreaming of raising a child to be a mini version of ourselves – a passionate, football-loving fan of our chosen respective teams. Home is now Co. Louth in the Republic of Ireland, that is where she will be brought up. If she were to be influenced by her surroundings, she’d more than likely be a Liverpool fan.
My argument is that supporting West Ham will teach her so many life lessons – how to deal with disappointment, the art of compromise, being different to everyone around you, but also that exhilarating sporting moments can be the highlights of your day, year or life. The counter-argument has changed somewhat over the last few years I guess, with the post-Fergie Manchester United also handing out tough sporting lessons.
The glory days have gone for the reds, so should she choose to be a Red Devil then she will also learn about disappointment and frustration, whilst being able to enjoy some considerably great moments. She could, of course, go her own way. Maybe she will be influenced by her community and follow Liverpool. Or, she could chase glory and become a supporter of a ‘Big Four’ club.
If Arsenal win the league and go on a good run for a few years, that could be her fate. I’m okay with that. What I’m not OK with is the thought that Spurs could rise from the ashes and become the team to support for kids of this generation. I would rather she hated football.
Oh wait! That takes us on a tangent I hadn’t really considered – what if she doesn’t like football? I suppose, as supportive parents, we’re supposed to accept that and allow her to make her own decisions in life. That doesn’t seem acceptable though.
Note to self: add ‘watching football’ to the list of sensory tasks. So far, we seem to have met a decent compromise; she has to be an Ireland fan, she’s Irish.
So my husband gets to be by her side for (few and far between) Irish victories, and share that journey with her. After all, it wouldn’t really be fair to make an Irish child grow up in Ireland and then support England, would it?
Therefore I get to try and lead her to a claret and blue pathway as a trade off. I’m happy with that! This could all change. She could support another team either in Ireland or England.
Locally, we have Drogheda United, who play in claret and blue anyway. Or we have Dundalk FC who have dabbled in European football in recent years. So I’d also be happy with that. Not as happy, but satisfied all the same that we’d brought up a child to ‘support local’.
Or she could decide that Man United is a preferable choice after all. She would be wrong, obviously, but they say you learn best from your mistakes in life, so I’ll let her discover the consequences of bad choices. Fortunately, the gifts Cara has been showered with have reflected our plans – so far, my Aunty has given her a West Ham babygrow and booties. There’s growing room in them (a phrase I now use, as a parent!) so it’ll keep us happy for a few months.
On my husband’s side, an aunt of his has gifted an emerald green Ireland vest, which she will proudly be sporting for the Euro 2024 qualifiers later this year. Overall, I think we can get the balance right and everyone, including our daughter, will be happy in this household.
The team our kids would support has been a debate that raged on for years and somehow, what we want to happen seems to have been resolved peacefully. Now, over to you Cara. No pressure.