Here’s a short article posted a few years back by a fellow Melbourne knights supporter(what used to be called Melbourne Croatia, a club that still exist under the name of Melbourne Knights here in Australia) this is the scenario he put together to try and explain his passion for HIS CLUB.
“You get dragged along to games as a child. Your father and his friends make you go, as if it were a ‘rite of passage’ in a social sense. They teach you that this club is more than just a football club. It is sort of like a way of life if you will, without sounding too philosophical. You are taken over by this. At school as a child that is all you talk about. No matter if the children in your school aren’t of your same ‘ethnic backround’ they also go to the club on game day. As this club is only a few kms from your house and school, the players come there for clinics. The other wog kids, Maltese, Italians, Scots all go to see these players because thats all the papers talk about. In months following they all go to the games. They now also love your club. Though you love it something different. When you come home that’s all people talk about. Pondeljak this, young Viduka that, Spiteri this, and that big Marth that.
Then in the 94 preliminaries against South Melbourne FC you notice an older brother of your classmate in the area where the most noisy and naughty fans stand. You’re proud because you can tell your friends you know him. When your club plays them in the next years at Bob Jane stadium, you aren’t allowed to go. So you listen to it on the radio. This is your club. You have its jersey, you wear its scarf, you take the bus to home games when your father cannot take you as a teen. Slowly you no longer sit with your parents in the grandstand, but you make your way over to the other end near the bar. You hear new words you havent heard before, see fights, see drugs, alchohol, older girls. You meet other guys there who over years of seeing them at the soccer you go out on weekends with them, and meet girls through them. You get the internet, which opens up a whole new world for you. You notice that the fans meet up during the week sometimes. So you go along with your new friends. Even though you’re much younger than the older fans they look at you as if they know how you feel, because they were there too. They begin to take you in as your voice begins to break. They take you on away trips. You’re no longer alone because there are other guys your age with them too. You now meet twice a week outside of game day. Sneak into bars to watch away games with them. You cannot wait for your next home game. Or away trip.
A few years down the track a new league springs up, and you, as well as thousands of others see your once mighty club getting pushed into the shadows. You notice kids, like you were one day going through the same thing you did, but you know that they wont have it exactly like you. You notice people who werent regular faces at games begin to go to these new Victory games, but you, and the die hard remnants of a once strong army are left, more than content with the club.. because they are the club. You think to yourself how can you actively support anything else?.. even in the off season.
In the off season you go to the last games of the leagues below. You and your group of friends go there to see prospect players. You’re a regular face at your clubs games, so people a couple of generations older than you have a beer with you. Talk over the season just gone. Talk over new players, new rumours. You visit a few off season friendlies of the u21 team. You see some of those younger kids friends in that team. Kids coming up the ranks who love the club. You sit on the reserves bench for years, not caring. They cannot play for anybody else. You feel great pride when you hear a bloke a couple of years younger than you has made it into the first team after coming from a division below. You’re happy, because you know he loves the club. You threaten over paid fat players from other clubs when they come to negotiate with the club. The president tries explaining to you that you need stars to win crowds. That doesnt interest you. You want commitment. You go to season launch galas. With your friends, you eat, drink, don’t collect change, overbid at auctions, and have to go to the atm in the middle of the night because your table bought something out of your range. But you dont care, its money for a good cause. Players come and sit at your table during charity nights, because they recognise your faces from the pre-season players trip. It doubled for the pre-season fans trip.
You look back on your youth. The club has given you everything. You met your best friends there. Saw worst enemies there. Got drunk for the first time there. Your first kiss was there. You link your first sexual encounters there, and many after. Saw your first fight there. Had your first fights there. Cried over a loss there. Cried over a win there, or simply a game.. or the last game in the NSL there. All of your biggest and best memories are somehow traced back to the the surroundings of a green patch of grass and eleven men wearing the red, white and blue kits you hold close to your heart. So how can you actively support anything else?.. even in the off season.
This is 24/7 for some people.. So you ask yourself. How can you support anybody else.
It’s simple. You cannot.”