Before we get into this I’ll say one thing off the bat; this isn’t instructional, and will probably (unless I reach some revelation along the way), not answer the question posited in the title. I’ll be damned if I know the answer and I would really love to hear some suggestions.
I suppose we’ll start by explaining my situation, because ceasing to support a football team that you have supported since childhood, as I have with mine, is bound to be an entirely alien concept to most fans. Sure, we might say things in anger about hating our clubs when they lose or lacking faith when we think a signing is poor, but my circumstance is beyond the pale and my feelings surrounding it much deeper than anything in football has caused me to feel before.
The lockdown and subsequent necessity for football to be played behind closed doors has been a significant factor in my increasing apathy for goings on at the club. Being able to attend games and feel the match for real, rather than following on Soccer Saturday or the club’s Twitter account is a big part of what keeps me engaged. I have enormous respect for the people who can be passionate about their club, but find themselves unable to attend games even under normal circumstances, be that by limited mobility or perhaps living far enough away that travelling to the games is too long or difficult. I though, just can’t stay passionate for something I can’t properly engage with.
The club’s performances haven’t been bad per sé. That is to say, they’ve been tremendously uninspiring without forecasting immediate doom. The issue with results and performance has been more that the club appears to be going backwards having competed quite closely for the play-offs in the last couple of seasons. Now, clubs go backwards for a number of reasons, it’s a part of football, but when that regression appears to stem at least in part from a lack of ambition and a certain amount of apathy from the powers that be at the club, I personally find it particularly difficult to show passion and commitment to the club and its’ cause myself.
I’ve also found football’s, and thereby the club’s community to have become increasingly toxic over the last few years, particularly on social media. This is an issue that has become endemic in wider society as a whole and is in no way exclusive to this one club, but it has still made the online community hard to be a part of for someone like me. I have never found it funny to watch other fans have “meltdowns” about football results, nor have I ever understood the depth to which somebody must be bored enough to turn on notifications for their rival team so they can begin mocking their defeats as soon as the result comes in. I’ve also never enjoyed my team losing when that loss might prove some people I don’t like wrong about something. I guess I’m just not that way inclined, but the point remains that part of the reason I’ve not enjoyed football nearly as much recently is the way in which people are generally more unpleasant to eachother, quicker and for more minor reasons than ever.
Now for the kicker, and for legal reasons, I’m going to have to be careful with how I word this part.
Earlier this week my club made a signing that I find morally abhorrent. This player once took part in an act that I, after reading reports of the event and its’ consequences and familiarising myself with all the publicly available details, believe amounted to what should be a criminal offence and is certainly an ethically heinous act. I’m sure the majority of people know of the player of which I speak and the controversy surrounding him, so I don’t think I’ll even need to go into any greater details. When the club made this signing my initial response was that it made my position as a fan of the club morally untenable. I even spoke to someone significantly involved in the signing of the player to try to understand the club’s side of the decision, but I have still found myself at a loss to understand, let alone accept the signing.
For a combination of these reasons, sealed by the final incident, I find myself unable to support the club. Today I watched Final Score, following all the goals and results as they came in and tried my best to disassociate from the club I have decided to try to stop supporting. I found my eye naturally drawn, though. While I tried to bitterly enjoy the club being humbled by average opposition, I’d be lying if I claimed that seeing the opposition’s goals come out on the vidiprinter (or whatever it’s called these days) still didn’t trigger that familiar pang of disappointment.
So, how do I go about stopping supporting the club? I suppose the most effective way would be to cut football out of my life altogether and make myself not check on the goings on at the club until doing so eventually becomes second nature. That sounds extremely arduous and unpleasant though, I still enjoy football. I watch every televised match that I can (other than the league my club is in, I’ve never watched games from my club’s league, I find it disconcerting for some inexplicable reason), and play football video games quite often in my spare time. Not that, then. Football is too big a part of my life to cut out completely for fear of what horrifically banal hobby I might pick up to fill that time.
Support another team perhaps? Well, my fianceé supports Wolves so I’ve developed a soft spot for them, and I also always look out for the results of Coventry, whom I followed at university and whose home games I would attend fairly often. There’s other sides that large parts of my extended family support, which I both feel senses of familiarity and support for, and that I could try to focus my attentions on. The likes of Gillingham, Liverpool and even Aberdeen. Something tells me none of these will ever quite be the same though.
Do I just become an armchair Premier League viewer? Well, despite what I thought about them when I did proudly support my local team, they do seem to have it pretty easy. Feet up on the sofa with it on the telly, my own bathroom rather than the stinking communal latrines that pass for facilities at the stadium, even going to the pub to watch the bigger games with a big screen and a drink. As much as my teenage self would be disgusted by the idea, all that actually sounds pretty cushty.