I don’t like change.
When one of the many previous regimes at Watford swapped the ‘Times New Roman’ font on our badge for something, supposedly, more commercially appealing in 2002, I felt as if someone had stolen one of my children.
I struggle to comprehend how Wimbledon fans must have felt when their club changed towns (and name and colours), what apprehension Hull City fans with ‘Hull City AFC’ tattoos must now feel or what Cardiff fans think about watching their Blue Birds. In red. Don’t even get me started on the devastating effect it must have had on Arsenal fans having to watch Flamini play in short sleeves.
Perhaps it’s not change that I dislike, after all, my underwear gets changed almost daily and I prefer Daniel Craig to Pierce Brosnan. No. Perhaps it’s tradition that I do like.
Upholding traditions in football isn’t sentimental clap trap, it makes commercial sense. We don’t buy the shirts, hats and onesies because we love clothing with Robins, Liver Birds or ‘Moose heads’ on them, and the majority of us don’t drag ourselves to Alexandra Stadium, Priestfield or Vicarage Road for the scintillating football; we buy the shirts and sacrifice our Saturdays because of what the whole ludicrous pantomime represents. The badge on our chest connects us to the 11 brave warriors on the pitch, to the past when our Dads would take us to games and put us on their shoulders and because wearing the shirt tells the world “This is who I am! This is who I have always been and this is who I will always be!” Regardless of the font.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’ll be the lone protestor stood in front of the European Super League Franchise tank when it inevitably rolls into town at some point in the not too distant future. Bernard Noble of the Official Hull City AFC Supporters club told me that in a recent online poll of their 1500 members only 180 people even bothered to vote on the proposed name change. The vote did, however, go against a change to ‘Hull City Tigers’ 2 to 1.
My theory is that if we lose the sentimental connection to our local clubs by changing the historical colours, names or even towns, football becomes just another sport competing with the likes of NFL, Rugby Union or Premier League Darts. It loses it’s mystical status that has us deserting our families on boxing day or travelling 300 miles on a freezing January evening to watch a Johnstone Paint Trophy replay.
Somebody (The FA) needs to remind the individuals fortunate enough to have bank accounts big enough to buy our football clubs and change their name/colour/town, that they are OUR football clubs as they were our fathers and grandfathers before us. That they are simply the CURRENT custodians of these 100 year old institutions. That we were here long before they were and will be here long after they have moved on to their next play thing.
That WON’T change. Unless you’re Wimbledon FC.