'I want to care like they care. I want a conversion experience': can I learn to love football?
I can fake it with a stranger, but I don’t feel a passion for the beautiful game. Can Scotland’s superfans show me the way?It was the first day of the season, an hour until kick-off. The curtain had not risen; those heroes and villains, strolling players and strutting fools who make up Scottish football’s dramatis personae were yet to make their entrance, and so this moment of expectation belonged, as always, to the fans.One of these fans, perhaps the most dedicated of all, sat in the supporters’ bar at Firhill, the stadium in the west end of Glasgow, sipping a bottle of lager, one of two he allows himself before each game. A ritual within a ritual. Henry Calderhead, better known as Auld Harry, better still as Harry Bingo, is 97 and has been going to see Partick Thistle, known as the Jags, since the end of the second world war. How extraordinary to think that Harry’s brown eyes – not as sharp these days – had watched Thistle play for more than 70 years, and his voice – not so loud these days – had urged on players who were now old men themselves. To be a supporter for so long requires us to accord that word “passion” its older, deeper meaning: that of endurance, even suffering. The Passion of Harry Bingo was what I had come along to witness, in the hope that this old, rather frail man, swathed in a scarf of gold and red, could teach me to care like he cares. I wanted, in short, to learn to love football. Continue reading......read full article