So, my brother is visiting from Texas. He and I were sitting around the house, one day recently. It had been some time since Die Mannschaft had won the World Cup over Argentina, and we were still somewhat on a soccer high.
Having covered the event intensely over the past few weeks, I felt like I would be doing the sport an injustice if I proved to be one of the many World Cup fans in the United States who only cared about futbol based on some enhanced sense of nationalistic pride (Full disclosure: I’m not even an American citizen).
Not to say that that was a bad thing, though. While rooting for the red, white and blue certainly piqued my interest in the sport, I wouldn’t have covered it so extensively had it not been for some sense of appreciation for it. Additionally, being such a fan of traditional American sports, I thought it was important to throw my good sense of fandom into the sport of futbol.
In any case, my brother and I got to talking, and decided that, if we – both being avid sports fans – were serious about following the Beautiful Game, to the point of hitching our bandwagon to a particular team. Seeing we had no rooting interests in the sport before, we wanted to be picky. So, we sort of loosely based our choice on the following criteria:
1) No Manchesters, Barcelonas or Real Madrids: That is, teams that could be equated to the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Lakers of League Football. We thought it would be too easy to root for the dynasty clubs. If we wanted to seriously get into following a club, we didn’t want to be accused of being those kind of bandwagoners.
2) No historical doormats: Seeing that we wanted to enjoy watching the club we would follow, that meant no historically awful teams, either. I mean, c’mon – we aren’t masochists.
3) It had to be in the Premier League: The point of this fandom exercise was that we could follow the club on TV on, at least, a semi-regular basis. That meant no hunting for matches on obscure satellite channels. Additionally, seeing that the NBC Sports Network had been advertising Premier League coverage since the Group Stage of the World Cup, it’s more convenient for us to catch matches for said club we would be following.
4) There had to be at least someone we knew on the club: I know, I know – rooting for a team in any sports is essentially rooting for the jersey, and not the players. But, ultimately, we weren’t going to go into supporting a club full of people we didn’t know.
With all of that said, my brother did a little research with a friend of his who also wanted to get into watching futbol on a more regular basis. After some thought, we came up with —
Historically, this looks to be a consistent club – from the looks of things, they have only been relegated from the Premier League twice: once for a season in the 1930s, and again for three seasons in the 1950s. And that’s saying something, considering the club was founded back in 1878. They finished the 2013-2014 season in 5th place.
Recent notable players, at least, of the last fifteen years, have been guys like Belgian National star Marouane Fellaini (2008-2013) and English superstar Wayne Rooney (2002-2004). Speaking of Fellaini, his Belgium teammate, Romelu Lukaku, was recently signed onto Everton to a club-record £28 million, after spending the previous season with the club on loan.
But the lone American on the squad (and a pivotal reason we chose to support this club)?
That’s right – American futbol hero Tim Howard.
Anyway, there is still a ton more I have to acclimate myself to, when it comes to English Football – like its many tiers, the concepts of relegation and promotion, and its history – not to mention learning the rich history of the club, like its championships, memorable moments, and well-known players.
And if there are any Everton supporters (Evertonians, I believe you call yourselves?) out there that would be willing to school me in the intricacies of the club and the sport they play, I’m ready and willing to learn. I also understand that one of your mottos is that Evertonians are “born, not manufactured” – I only hope that you will still accept me as a supporter, all the same.
See you in 16 days, when Everton kicks off against Leicester City.