Having a ‘second team’ is football’s most annoying trend

It’s true, everyone loves football. Most of us can’t get enough of the sport. We’ll find ourselves rooting for Macclesfield Town against Dover Athletic U23 when nothing else is on. But how about having an official ‘second team’? Too far. It’s just perverse.

For those of you reading this that do have a second team, and we mean one you genuinely purport to be a fan of, you need to take a long, hard look at yourselves. What goes so wrong in someone’s life that they’re driven to having ‘a Premier League team’?

We all know someone who, in an apparently heroic move, chooses to support their boyhood club, through thick and thin. All credit to them. Sadly, this berk often falls back on their ‘second team’ for serving the glory they don’t receive further down the ladder.

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For the fellas from Gillingham who also support Arsenal, to the blokes in Oldham who have a soft spot for Manchester United; people with second teams are infuriating. Said ‘soft spots’ often extend to braying bragging-rights when their bigger club succeeds or having a Red Devils kit for meeting the lads down at Goals.

It’s pathetic. If you’re an adult with the capacity for rational thought and have had half a day’s worth of education, you shouldn’t be doing it. Essentially, it’s time to grow up.

But the excuses for this behaviour come in all manner of ways.

‘My dad supports them’, ‘I grew up there’, ‘I liked them as a kid’ and ‘I’m only supporting my local team’ are among the main offenders. Sickening, we know.

Occasionally, yes, it is excusable. Coming from another country and offering support for the place you’ve moved to is understandable. Or even moving across your own country and turning up to accompany a lonely man and his lonely dog and cheer on the local lads. These situations are understandable.

But they only work one way.

For the fans of ‘bigger’ clubs – who’ve been there from the get-go – supporting a ‘smaller’ club is understandable. Let’s say you move from Stretford or Salford down to Stevenage. Incorporating the Boro into your footballing world alongside the Red Devils would be understandable.

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But imagine being a big enough tool to do that in reverse, offering ‘they’re my local club’ as an excuse. Can you imagine going from Stevenage to Salford and adopting Manchester United as a second team?

Smaller clubs, those who don’t have an international fanbase, actually need the support of the people who pour into their towns and have no reason to attend games. They need those people following their jobs to turn up on a Saturday and keep the club alive.

Multibillion pound corporations such as Manchester United do not. If anything, they’d rather have the holidaying tourists fill their stadiums because they’re far more likely to pay through the eyeballs for a ticket and then wander down to the club shop after. Greedy club-owning elites can make a quick quid from those misled cash-cows. And who wants to encourage that?

So, having a bigger ‘second team’ – particularly a Premier League ‘second team’ – is, ultimately, unjustifiable. Even inexcusable.

Football’s core appeal is in the unity of joining thousands of like-minded people in one great movement that rides the highs and lows of supporting a football club. It brings together people from the same area in a way that little else can. Why do we support a club in the first place? It’s not for the trophies or the win ratio but the enjoyment of seeing your side perform for you. 

We adore our respective teams because they’ve been there for the majority of our lives. When we support a team, we are agreeing partly in the values of that club and that community and we’re agreeing to join thousands of others in doing so.

That’s the reason we want our team to win over all others.

So what on earth can possibly drive anyone to creating such a conflict of interest? How can you comfortably stand and watch what is supposedly your team whilst checking your phone to keep tabs on the other? Or, even worse, if those teams happen to meet, what then?

Do fans of both clubs genuinely support each side, or not have a preference on the outcome? Because, if they do, they’re undermining the very principles of supporting a football club.

It is, for the most part, about seeing the team that we’ve always loved do their best and knowing that we were there to see it, despite all the times we were there to experience their failures. It is inherently rewarding to support a football club and have a genuine interest in them.

So how you can possibly just pick another from the air and ‘support’ them doesn’t actually seem like something that can happen.

As the great Bobby Robson once said:

“What is a club in any case? It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up the stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”

Good luck trying to find that in your tragic second team.