I miss sports. I miss football most of all, but I miss all sports. Most of our writers here are the exact same way, so the question I posed for today was about who our folks root for when they aren’t rooting for Villarreal. Here are our answers below, and I’d love to know who else you root for in the comments at the bottom.
I have been a fan of Port Vale (currently in the English second division, i.e. fourth tier) since about 1980. I started supporting them because of English literature, actually—Port Vale appear as “Bursley” in Arnold Bennett’s stories set in Burslem, where the team is based. But around the time I started following them they started to do really well and had some fine players—Robbie Earle, a local boy who played for the Jamaica national team—and scored a World Cup goal, and Andy Jones, who was the best player I ever saw play in England—unfortunately his career was ended early by injury but in his prime he was incredible.
And then another local boy, Chris Birchall, ended up playing for the Trinidad and Tobago national team (at the World Cup 2010). But more than the individuals, it’s been the ups and downs—we made it to the second level, I think our best finish was maybe seventh?, then we’ve been all the way back to the fourth; the team has filed for administration twice at least, we had a fans’ buyout that went sour, we had a guy who milked the club and the new owners (the current ones) had to overpay to buy him out. But hey, that’s life in the lower divisions in England.
I haven’t been to a match at Vale Park in ages—almost 30 years—but I still have fond memories of going to matches there, and somewhere I have a signed team photo the players and staff sent me, and I think a Christmas card, too. Its so old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s dad Mark was on the team! (and he was a fine player as well). Up the Valiants!!
Editor’s note: Since 1980, Port Vale have won the Football League Trophy twice, in 1993 and 2001. They were founded in the 1870s
I’m going to keep it short (lying). I love any kind of sport, not only football, and I have so many teams that I support whether it is American football, basket, baseball, hockey... Besides Villarreal, in football, I also follow Juventus. I fell in love with their team that had the likes of Del Piero, Nedved, Buffon, and their kit. Besides them, I also support a whole lot of clubs around Europe, South America, North America, Asia as Minsk, Boca Juniors, Guadalajara or Urawa, and women’s teams too as Zhilstroy-1, Olimpia Cluj.... Also follow players and coaches that I end up liking, whether by their play, numbers... as Pieros Sotiriou, current striker for Astana, or coaches as Bielsa. But not only of football can someone live and I also support Valencia Basket or Inter Movistar (futsal), to name another sport. And of course, as I coach there, EF Benicató at all levels is a team that I also support.
Editor’s Note: Raul very often comes into our comment sections to give a local perspective on football in the Valencian Community from someone who coaches there. It is an invaluable inside look at how football in Spain works.
My only team is Villarreal since 2009-2010 season. Up until 2004 I was a Chelsea fan but once all the money flooded I felt disconnected and uncomfortable. I was then in football limbo for a few years so to speak until Villarreal. For me personally I only see yellow and I am very proud of the club. I support them because they are everything a football club should be. “Football is a pleasure that hurts” (Galeano 1997).
Editor’s Note: Before the 2004 Abramovich takeover, Chelsea had actually gone into a bit of a peak period for the club on its own, winning FA Cups in 96-97 and 99-00, a League Cup in 97-98, and a Community Shield in 2000. However, they only had one top flight league title in their history before the monetary infusion, and the entire complexion of the club’s place in English football has changed radically since then.
The Washington Capitals ice hockey team. Been going to games since my fifth birthday (best present ever!). Decades of losing and underperforming in the playoffs capped off by the sweetest title imaginable in 2018. Another team that has really tapped into its community and fanbase.
Editor’s note: The Stanley Cup was first awarded in 1893, and has been won by only 25 clubs in that time. The Capitals win in 2018 was their first title since being founded in 1974.
I have several teams that I follow so discussing just one was difficult. Some of these teams are local to where I grew up, like the North Carolina Tar Heels or North Carolina FC. I root for the Cleveland Browns to remember one of my best friends from high school who has passed on. (If you’d like to hear that whole story, I wrote it out, here.) A couple of the teams I root for are directly tied to two trips I’ve been able to take to Ireland since 2017. Munster Rugby is one, and the other is St. Patrick’s Athletic in the Irish Airtricity League.
This morning, St. Pats announced they were having to lay off playing and coaching staff due to the COVID-19 crisis, so I guess they are who is on my mind most, today. They had continued paying folks in the hope that the Airtricity League could resume in June (their season begins in March and goes all summer, anyway) but given new announcements by the Irish government about the expected timetable to return to normalcy layoffs were necessary. The top flight in the Republic of Ireland isn’t fully professional. About half the players in the league only make about €1,000 a month and the Irish FA announced last December they were essentially bankrupt (due to gross mismanagement). The league averages about 2500 fans per match.
During these difficult times, we hear most about the big leagues and the financial consequences but many small leagues around the world will suffer much more. Last season, I participated with a group that helped sponsor one of their players as a way to help the club. These sorts of efforts will be essential if clubs like St. Pats are going to survive. We all love Villarreal, but lets not forget about the smaller clubs while we are at it.
Editor’s Note: St. Pats joined the top flight in 1951 and have never been relegated. They have eight league titles, three FAI Cups, four League of Ireland Cups, and one President of Ireland Cup. They play in Dublin in Richmond Park and have local derbies with Shamrock Rover, Bohemians, and others. Fifty-six matches in club history have been played in European competition, mostly in the Europa League. Twenty-eight Republic of Ireland internationals have worn the red and white shirt.
So, what do you think?
Tell us the other teams YOU root for, below.