… Football: A Guide For Those Who Aren’t Massively Keen On Football

The trick with reality television (and grow up, football fans – watching twenty-two strangers doing something unscripted for TV cameras counts as reality telly) is to actually care who wins. 

Unlike Strictly or the X-Factor there’s no public vote to suck you in, but it’s still more fun if you have a favorite to get behind.  But just say your national side (or your team in the work sweepstake) gets knocked out?  Or if you’re from Northern Ireland? 

What then? 

You’ll need to pick a second side to support.  Plan B.

So:  welcome to the Dr Brown Is Getting Better Guide to Who to Support If You Don’t Know Who to Support.

Just follow this handy system to decide who your team is!

  • Where you’re from.      

It’s easier to get involved if you get swept along with everyone else, so go for your national side if you can.  If that’s not possible (Go, Northern Ireland!), opt for the team of one of your friends, work colleagues or whoever you’re watching the match with, in hope that some of their enthusiasm wears off on you. 

If it doesn’t, then eat their Pringles, drink their pop and keep quiet.

  • Where you’d like to be from.    

This is one to look out for in Six Nations Rugby season, which you may like to try for the Euros.  You live in England, you were born in England, you sound English but for six weeks in early spring each year you genuinely believe you are Scottish or Welsh.

But it doesn’t have to be “I’m Scottish, actually!”.

I’ve always fancied being Scandinavian (but I watched too much World’s Strongest Man as a kid).

  • Where you’ve been on holiday.

This one could easily be a score draw.  If there are several, then where did you have the best holiday or the nicest food?  There may be a hierarchy here. Perhaps Portugal > Italy > Greece etc. (or alternatively those little custard tarts > pasta > moussaka) so it may well depend on the match.

  • A team that wears the same colour as your local team.

Liverpool or Man United?  Come on you reds! Why not be Spanish for a few weeks?  Everton or Chelsea? Benvenuti in Italia! 

That way if you glance up from your phone when the crowd scream out you can depend on your gut instinct as to whether you cheer or indignantly call for a red card, penalty or VAR review.

Picture from footgoal.pro
  • Where your favourite player comes from.

This doesn’t always work. I once watched my local rugby team (Leicester Tigers) playing against a side led by the Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll, the spring before the world cup. I found myself the only person on the terrace shouting “Come on Leicester … but don’t hurt Brian!”

I was asked to leave.

  • The Underdog. 

Some people love a plucky underdog story. Hollywood stuff.  Rocky.  Rocky II.  Rocky III. 

By Rocky IV, a pattern had been established and we’d realised Rocky was pretty good and begun to fancy his chances, making him no longer the underdog and, if anything, an overdog.

  • The Overdog.    

Is there such a thing as an overdog?  The opposite of an underdog?  The brilliant team or player that transcends the sport and gives a masterclass in brilliance every time – think the All Blacks carving through a defence, Usain Bolt or Mike Tyson in his pomp.  Football may not be your kind of thing  – just appreciate that, like a virtuoso opera singer or a prima ballerina, it is an excellent example of what it is, relax and let it wash over you.  Ahhhhhhhh.

  • The team with the one brilliant player

Just to say you were there.  Remember the 1986 world cup?  Diego Maradonna?  Tortured genius?  The Hand of God?  That’s the chap! 

Remember any of the other Argentina players? 

No.  Thought not. 

  • The team playing the one you don’t like.

That’s essentially the principle of Anyone But England/France/Germany/Australia/USA depending on your sport.  Please note that for this to work you have to pick a quality team.  If you pick a smaller nation it comes across badly.

E.g.  I love to see England beat Australia in the Ashes?


I love to see Albania getting stuffed?


  • The team that knocked your team out. 

If the only side that beats you goes on to be the eventual winners of the competition, that means you have the moral victory and bragging rights that you essentially came second.  This argument runs “if only we hadn’t met team x in the last 16 we could have made it all the way to the final.”  

Absolute nonsense, entirely unprovable, but leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Or maybe that’s just the beer.

4 thoughts on “… Football: A Guide For Those Who Aren’t Massively Keen On Football

  1. I think the title from this may be subconsciously adapted from a book on uncertainty in medicine by my friends Avril and Ali. “Mapping Uncertainty In Medicine- what to do when you don’t know what to do” so I give them all credit for the rhythm of the title. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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