12 Sep 2020

Why do you support that club?

1:44 pm on 12 September 2020

The new English Premier League football season is getting underway and it seems a lot of people in New Zealand have a favourite team overseas even though most of them have no physical connection with that team.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard lifts the trophy surrounded by celebrating team-mates after their 2005 UEFA Champions League Final victory over AC Milan.

Liverpool Photo: PHOTOSPORT

So RNZ Sport asked a few people why and for how long they've been supporting a team.

Their answers are below - if you have an interesting reason for supporting a certain foreign football club then let us know be sending details to sport@rnz.co.nz please include your name and we may add you to the list.

Koro Vaka'uta - West Ham United

Did some research for a whakapapa project in primary school and found one of my great grandfathers was born in East Ham so I got a map out and looked at the clubs in the area and settled on West Ham.

Later discovered similar familial links to Liverpool and spat tacks because they were - and have been since - much better than the Hammers, but alas I had already made the jump.

Had planned to be at a game this season at London Stadium for the first time but then 2020 happened. 32 years later, in typical West Ham fashion, I'm celebrating mediocrity with the confirmation of our survival in the premier league!

Ben Strang - Liverpool

When I started playing football in the mid-late 90s, Michael Owen and Steve McManaman were my idols. And so naturally I followed their team, but didn't jump ship when they both left for Real Madrid. By then Steven Gerrard had come through and became my new hero.

I'll never forget watching the 2005 Champions League final, the most remarkable game of football I've watched. And to actually watch a game at Anfield, in the Kop End, a 3-0 win against Manchester City in 2011.

I had goosebumps for hours. I was born a month after Liverpool's last league triumph, so it's nice to see them actually win an English title!

Vinnie Wylie - Manchester United

I didn't follow football closely until starting college so what I did see or know was the big guns and everyone, especially the young and impressionable loves a winner right?

To the point I actually saved $160 to buy a Leeds Utd shirt after a trophy-laden 28 season career on LMA Manager 2001. But my heart was still in Manchester and I recall requesting a family friend in the UK buy the latest strip for my birthday the following season (they did) and now I have an obscene 50 plus strips stashed away at home.

I've always appreciated the history of the club, the belief in playing and backing youngsters and David Beckham's ever-changing hairstyles.

I took great pride in going to watch the movie Interstellar instead of the chance to visit Anfield a few years back and despite the last seven years of largely dross I'm still here.

Denise Garland - Arsenal

I was 11 when my younger football-playing younger brother became obsessed with Arsenal, quite possibly only because they won the double in the 1997-98 season.

Regardless of the reason, he became obsessed with the club and for anyone else to enjoy football in my household, you also had to go along with the obsession.

We'd all get up in the middle of the night to watch them play the 'important games' when they played on free-to-air, and even when there was a delay. Marc Overmars was god and David Seaman was the best keeper of all time. God forbid we ever say anything nice about Manchester United!

It is still an unspoken tradition in our family to pick our Football World Cup favourites based on which countries have Arsenal players involved.

Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp celebrates with the trophy after their penalty shoot-out victory over Man Utd in the FA Cup Final. 2005.

Dennis Bergkamp Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Barry Guy - Manchester United

I remember watching the very first live FA Cup final televised in New Zealand (Sunderland upset Leeds 1-0) and that's how I got interested in the English game.

There wasn't a lot of live sport on TV back then and so we would watch match of the day on a Sunday afternoon, even though the game was a week old.

At school in Nelson a number of friends were following Liverpool, who were winning everything back then, so I thought I can't support them and then I saw a guy with no front teeth playing for United, it was Joe Jordan and I thought that's the team for me.

I had to wait a while for success, but it came in the 90's.

John Gerritsen - Oranje

This started for no better reason than my Dad is Dutch and I felt the need to have a team to back every four years in the World Cup.

The irony is that my father has absolutely no interest in football - he'd rather watch rugby - but I am now a firm and enthusiastic fan. This is an entirely adult obsession - I never got behind any foreign teams or clubs as a child because I couldn't see any connection between suburban Hamilton and Manchester or London. But as an adult I started watching World and European cups and I was hooked.

My heroes are smart, incisive players - Ruud Gullit, Arjen Robben - and when I'm told off for being out of position during my own Saturday kickarounds I retort that I'm "playing total football". But God it's hard being a fan.

Again and again they go so close, only to be bundled out in a quarter or semi-final, or even fail to qualify. But hope springs eternal and I just know that one day, the Netherlands is going to bring that World Cup home! Hup Holland!

Prince William - Aston Villa.

Prince Williams is famously an Aston Villa fan.

He says he fell in love during his first trip to an FA Cup game - Villa against Bolton - when he was 11.

"I sat there amongst all the Villa fans and I loved it. I thought the atmosphere was great," he recalls.

He says at the time he "desperately" didn't want to support "someone like Manchester United or Chelsea" - like everyone else at school did.

He was also attracted to Villa's proud history - William was born in 1982, when they, as English champions, won the European Cup.

Sean Barker - AFC Bournemouth

Growing up in Bournemouth during the late 80s/early 90s, it was obvious which team I should support - Liverpool or Man Utd.

At least, that's what you'd think judging by the shirts worn around town.

However, I chose a path less travelled; AFC Bournemouth.

It began when I joined their youth academy as a 10-year-old goalkeeper, which got me a ticket to every game. Forget the bright lights of massive stadiums and the endless haul of trophies.

This was real football and I was hooked.

Before emigrating to New Zealand in 2008, I spent over 15 years watching them each week and made life friends with guys who all got to know each other by standing in the same spot on the old concrete terraces.

We travelled the country to watch our mediocre team play (mostly) mediocre football. We shook buckets outside the ground for donations to keep the club alive. We laughed. We cried. We occasionally celebrated.

And these days, after the team reached the Premier League, you even see Bournemouth shirts around the town.

Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

Bournemouth FC Photo: PHOTOSPORT

David Reid - Hiberian Football Club

I support Hibernian Football Club who DO NOT play in the EPL.

Formed 1875. First British team to play in Europe. Notable victories in the 50's and 60's over the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

I support them through proximity really. I grew up about a mile from the ground. First football match I ever attended was Hibs v Dundee. 2-0 win and I got a high five off the goalie afterwards. (Alan Rough - numerous Scotland caps)

BUT! As a child I glory hunted by ignoring Hibs and supporting Aberdeen, managed at the time by one Alex Ferguson. I was so fervent for a few years that I was even taken to Gothenburg in Sweden to see that club win in Europe. Fergie's Aberdeen are still the last team to beat Real Madrid in a European final (1983).

Soon after, I became a skiing fanatic and drifted from football a wee bit. When skiing abated at about 15 years old, I started going along to Hibs games with mates.

The team is my local team and I soon realised that, despite the Fergie years and the special memories, it was always Hibs.

David Dome - Tottenham

From 10 years old, my parents are English, my dad came from Portsmouth and supports Portsmouth FC.

In the early 80's my father said it's time to pick a team, my brother chose Liverpool and I picked Spurs (they played 4 straight FA Cup finals in the early eighties) and they had some great players like Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles. Ricky Villa and Garth Crooks and I liked the way they played.

Unfortunately they've not won anything since.

Nicola Wright - Chelsea

Short answer: wind-up.

More detail? Well ok... In late 2008 I had a London card for my trip to Europe and 'attractions' it got you into included a Stamford Bridge tour.

I'd been to a couple of Phoenix games though not a huge football fan yet so I basically went on the tour to taunt a West Ham following friend who'd been sarcastic (but to be fair, also accurate) about the Blues.

It was... all right. Fine even. I moved on. And yet, a few months later, there I was in a replica shirt I'd got off Trademe, midnight in the living room, in place to watch the full FA Cup coverage including two hour bloody build-up, Chelsea v Everton.

Max Towle - Manchester United

My dad was a massive Utd fan - his whole family were. So naturally I chose to support their arch-rivals Liverpool when I was a bolshy, stubborn seven-year-old.

That fandom was short-lived, though, after my dad took me to a few games at Old Trafford, and away games in London. My first ever football match was the 1996 game in which David Beckham scored from the halfway line in stoppage time.

We left early to avoid the rush hour traffic and missed it. I vividly remember walking away from Selhurst Park and hearing the chant "Beckham, from the halfway line!" and my dad swearing up a storm.

Brenton Vannisselroy - Arsenal

Ajax was the first club I started following after receiving a poster of the 1995 European champion team from my oma and opa.

When my favourite player Marc Overmars left to join Arsenal a couple of years later, I started following the Gunners, who already had signed Dutch forward Dennis Bergkamp.

Arsenal won the double in Overmars' first season with the club, cementing my love of the club as a 12-year-old.

Matt Chatterton - Manchester United

I follow winners and when I started taking an interest in football they were the most dominant side in the sport.

It's also the reason why I support the Crusaders, Melbourne Storm, LA Lakers (when the Golden State Warriors are winning I support them instead), New England Patriots, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods.

Actually come to think about it, I now support Liverpool.

Gyles Beckford - Everton

I support the blue side of Liverpool city, and have done since childhood.

I lived close to Goodison Park, so close you could follow a game by listening to the crowd cheers and boos on match day.

In the early 1960s Everton was a top club in England when the Liverpool team was barely out of the second division and much the inferior team.

I became an unflinching, unwavering supporter when I went to games with my dad, and seeing them win the championship.

The link was only reinforced by going to matches with school mates where we'd be given cheap entry to a fenced off part of the ground known as the "boys' pen", but which was really a nest of delinquents and "scallies".

A move to New Zealand hasn't diminished my loyalty, some would say obsession, but unfortunately has coincided with a slight dip in Everton's form.

Harry Lock - Tottenham

Brought up in the predominantly rugby-mad Southwest England, there was no obvious attachment to any club.

I was vaguely aware my Dad supported Spurs which flourished when I saw Robbie Keane get a goal against Fulham at the Lane in 2005.

That then flourished when the dreamboat that is Gareth Bale came on the scene, from how he single handedly ruined Maicon's career, to the goal against West Ham.

I've never experienced trophy glory, but with the era of Poch, they just kept you hooked in. Hopefully under Jose he'll bring an winning mentality.

Gareth Bale playing for Spurs.

Photo: (c) Offside Sports Photography 271-273 City Road,LONDON EC1V 1LA. Tel: 020 7253 3344.

Jim McCabe - West Ham

When I first noticed football, I liked the stylish way West Ham played and I could more than stand the colours.

But when I saw the words to their song about winning in a 'take it or leave it' kind of way, I knew they were for me.

Craig Stephen - Celtic

In the 1970s you were either Celtic or another Glasgow team which no longer exists and I gravitated towards Celtic, because since the mid-60s, they had dominated Scottish football and won the European Cup, the first non-Latin team to do so, under Jock Stein.

I wasn't brought up in Glasgow, but the north-east of Scotland and latched on to Celtic before Aberdeen and Dundee Utd began winning titles and reaching European finals. But even though those two teams - the so-called New Firm - were supported by many of my friends, some of my cousins and mates were Celtic fans.

They played the most exciting brand of football and had the most vocal fans and later on I developed the same political views as most of the fanbase.

We had Kenny Dalglish the best striker in Britain at the time, Danny McGrain one of the best full-backs in the world and almost all the players were Scottish.

There used to be a Celtic Supporters' Club in Wellington which would show live games but nowadays I rely on the internet.