Football is tribal. You pledge your allegiance to a team and you don’t budge. That’s the way it’s supposed to work anyway. My first love has always been Bolton Wanderers. Over the years, I’ve acquired soft spots for teams. Some make sense. Some don’t. For example, my second team I keep an eye on is Montrose in lowly Scottish League Division Three. Why? Well, pull up a seat and I’ll tell you.
Over the years, I’ve acquired soft spots for the daftest clubs. I quite like Crewe for example. They have nice fans, play decent football (more often than not to their detriment) and have had Dario Gradi at the helm for nearly 3000 years. I also pride myself in ‘supporting’ a team in every country in the world. In Spain, it’s Real Betis because someone bought me their home shirt once. In France, my boys are Montpellier… because I wanted them to knock Man United out of the Cup Winners Cup in 1991 (they didn’t). Sometimes these odd choices have affected my life decisions. When I started smoking (years ago now), I went for Embassy Number One, because the packet looked like River Plate’s kit (my Argentinian team).
So if Bolton are my wife, then Montrose are my mistress. Why? Well, years ago, when I was at primary school, I was grumbling about how everyone had to like Rangers or Celtic, like there was no other Scots club. So a group of mates and I bought copies of Match and Shoot, and started looking at the lower reaches of the Scots leagues. One friend went for Caley Thistle. Another Ross County. Another Hamilton Academicals (because Willie Jameson looked ‘funny’). My choice was Montrose. They looked rubbish. I remember that they played St Johnston in ‘something that resembled a mud bath’ after it had been postponed twice. They also didn’t bother making programmes for the matches if the weather looked bad. I’d also heard that they played in a brown kit… which I thought was highly amusing (even though this turned out to be a bare faced lie). So Montrose it was. Somehow, quite inexplicably, they captured my heart. I felt the pain when Hibernian battered them 9-0. My weekend is only perfect if Bolton have won, and Montrose haven’t lost. I’ve watched my mates’ Scots teams gain promotion, go on giant killing runs… and hit the headlines for good reasons. I’ve never seen Montrose in the news. Ever.
It got me thinking. Surely everyone else has a team they keep an eye out for. Even if it’s Glentoran. Or Leigh RMI. Please tell me yours so I know I’m not going mad!