Supporters Superstitions

I’m sat here typing this in my work clothes, I’ve just been sat outside the New Den waiting to collect the tapes off the ITV camera man, I do these pick ups quite often these days, I can’t afford to get up to the games at the moment, so may as well earn some money out of football instead. On the ride back home I got thinking about my superstitions when it comes to football, as it was this choice of job/lifestyle (and believe me being a motorbike courier is a lifestyle choice, it’s not a 9-5 job) that led to one of my fundamental footballing superstitions. I never EVER go to away games on a motorbike any more. Having been to half a dozen games at least, not once have I seen them win, not once. Home games are fine, neutral venues (Millennium Stadium) fine, but away games … our survey says X.

The first game I ever went to on a bike was the closest I got; I went to The Valley to see Stoke lose 4-3 in a pulsating League Cup tie, which we won on away goals, as we had won the first leg 2-1. From Oxford’s old open away terrace, to Gillingham’s temporary scaffolding with seats, to seeing us lose on penalties to Mansfield effing Town in the league cup, not once have I rode home whistling into my helmet “jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to see city win away”. Which when you think about it is a bit of a pain, given the number of away games we get in the south east every season. Now I either have to sit in traffic in my wheeled cage (just in case you didn’t know, we may be nicknamed “Donors” by the medical profession, but you lot in your cars are nicknamed “cage-ers” by us bikers) or get crammed onto public transport with less space than they give animals (and I don’t mean the home fans I invariably have to travel with if I choose this option)

My next superstition is probably more common, the lucky item of clothing, in my case a lucky replica top. A 1996 Asics Away top. But it had to be washed and dried in a certain way for it to be lucky; failure to adhere to the following strict criteria would result in a non winning match day.

The evening before a match day, it must be washed together with a full load; preferably containing a few other replica tops, before going to bed it must be stuck in the tumble drier. On the morning of the game, it must be taken straight from the tumble drier and worn, this is fine if attending a home game, as I wouldn’t leave home without it, however if I’m not going to the game, I have been known to forget to stick it on till after lunch, the result almost never goes our way if this happens. With this top being 12 years old and having been worn by myself for almost every match day for the last 5 years when I first noticed its lucky qualities, it was starting to look a little worn, so I purchased a replacement from , alas it didn’t display the same lucky tendencies as the original, it is however in far better condition so at least I will still have it in years to come, should by chance it inherit the lucky qualities of the other.

As football supporters we are a superstitious bunch, and after some thought on the subject, I have come up with a reason. We have a deep seated need to think we can some how influence what happens on a rectangular section of grass when 22 men take to the field to kick around a bag of wind. Such is our desire to see our team win, and some how be involved in that win, despite the fact all we did was stand at the side (or end) and sing, shout, swear and shake our fists in their direction. So we cling to these superstitions despite the fact Stoke City have lost games when I have been wearing the lucky shirt, and am quite sure I followed the correct washing drying procedure. I put these down to timing issues on the wearing of it, or the washing of it etc, just occasionally I’ll acknowledge we lost because the other team were better than us (although invariably it’s that we didn’t play to a standard we are capable of). I have no doubt that if I went to enough games on my motorbike eventually I would see them win, but I just couldn’t do that, as every single defeat before that game would be MY FAULT

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