I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to watching football. My family aren't interested in football, leaning more towards rugby. So, when I was around 12-13, and started watching football through my mates, I knew I wanted to pick a team to support. I didn't want to pick a team which constantly win. Not only did I not want to be barraged with claims of being a 'glory supporter', but I guess I wanted the excitement that came with a team that COULD perform well. At the time, Everton stood out to me. They seemed to embody the classic cliche of being MORE than a club, and I can remember the likes of Jelavic, who slowly made way for Lukaku, who really catalysed my love of the team. I managed to watch them for the first time live in Newcastle last season, when after being up 2-0 at half time, we later bottled it and lost 3-2. Winning would've been nice, but just seeing the team which I'd been following for so long in the flesh was worth the price of admission. We've had a somewhat lacklustre season (so far?), currently in the bottom half of the table, so I hope that in the next few seasons we can start competing properly for some European spots.
Below are all of the goals which Lukaku got in that blue and white jersey, each one making me love the club more and more...
Sports had never really done it for me until the day I was channel surfing and happened to catch Sidney Crosby’s game-winning gold medal goal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. My interest was piqued: ice hockey, what a wild concept. It was only logical to then check out the NHL team he captained, and well, that was it: a new hockey fan was born. Crosby may have introduced me to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who will always have my loyalty, but I stayed for the multitude of exceptional players that the team boasted: Evgeni Malkin, the other half of the ‘Two-Headed Monster’; goal-tender Marc-Andre Fleury (whose trade to Vegas in the expansion draft still hurts); Maatta, Sheary, Hornqvist, Hagelin, Rust, Schultz – basically every member of the phenomenal back-to-back Stanley Cup Championship winning 2016 and 2017 rosters. Though a good chunk of them have been traded away (curse you cap space), the team as a whole remains solid playoff contenders, and I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m stress refreshing Twitter for game updates in the early hours of the morning again.
Everyone who knows me is well aware of my misery caused by being a Sunderland supporter. I had no choice but to support the Black Cats, with one of the earliest photos taken of me, I was dressed in a Sunderland romper suit just after I was born. After that, I had no choice but to follow my father into the melancholy existence that is being a Sunderland supporter. Unfortunately, when it comes to football you have to follow whoever your family supports, those are the rules. I’ll never forget being six or seven at a Sunderland game and asking my dad why they were playing so badly, only for the bloke next to us gently breaking the news to me saying, “you’ve got another fifty years of this.” So far I can say he hasn’t been wrong.