As you may or may not know we have around 40+ members on the books of the New York Owls nowadays, our members live in the tri-state area, a lot in the city, some in New Jersey and some in Connecticut. Jeff is one of our American owls who lives in Connecticut, and despite it taking around an hour to get into the city for our games he's one of our regular attendees. Which is to be applauded when you take into account most of our TV games are at 7.15am.
Before I hand you over to Jeff, here's a quick plug for our meet up this Saturday, at the Football Factory, 7.15am against Forest. Its our first proper look at the team over here so come on down and watch it with the New York Owls.
So Jeff, how did you become a fan of the mighty blue and white wizards?
There’s a logical, maybe even heartwarming, story I could tell here.
A young soccer player, a short midfielder with some pace, dreams of one day playing for the US Men’s National Team. Of course he would idolize John Harkes and be drawn to the English side that he made his name with. And because he was a particularly stubborn (and had plenty of experience with crushing disappointment as a New York Mets fan), he stuck with that team through thick and (mostly) thin for the next 20 years.
But that’s not my story.
On his album Hilarious, the comedian Louis C.K. has a bit about how his young children pick their friends: “Our children chose each other, based on no criteria by the way. They’re the same size. They don’t give a shit who they make me hang out with.”
That’s…uh, more like my story.
When I was a child, the regional cable channel that showed Mets games would also show a First Division recap show on Saturday Mornings. The TV was inevitably still on the channel from the night before, so before my Saturday morning cartoons, I would watch the previous week’s highlights. And as they would usually just show a bunch of goals, it was not John Harkes who first caught my eye, but David Hirst, scoring worldies every week in tiny, tiny shorts.
But even that wasn’t the real reason I ended up a Wednesdayite. It comes down to this. I was ten years old. I liked the color blue, and I liked owls. And I didn’t give a shit who that would force me to hang out with over the next twenty years.
Sportschannel eventually became Fox Sports NY, and stopped showing that First Division recap show. The internet was still running on 14.4k dial-up modems, making following the team all but impossible, but if anyone asked me, I was a Sheffield Wednesday fan. That part above about my being stubborn and used to crushing disappointment is true at least. By the time I could even regularly check the results again, I was in college and Wednesday was languishing in the lower leagues.
It didn’t really matter though. At 12:15 sharp on Saturday morning I would fire up the old Wednesday website and check the box, the modern equivalent of my childhood recap show. I found another striker to love soon after, Steve MacLean (all those penalties looked the same as any other goal in the box score), and was devastated when they didn’t re-sign him. ESPN started showing the odd Championship game on their old ESPN3 streams, and Wednesday player let me listen to the rest. When the team was in danger of a winding up and looked like they’d be stuck in the lower tiers forever I dabbled with taking on a second team in the EPL (Villa, because of Agbonlahor and the fact that I refuse to allow myself nice things), but it never felt right. I’d rather watch a dodgy stream of Wednesday against Exeter with unintelligible Eastern European commentary.
As an American Wednesday supporter, I am often preoccupied with the idea of ‘authenticity.’ I didn’t grow up in Yorkshire, and just because I chose Wednesday (rather than Arsenal like every other American), that doesn’t grant me the same connection to the team. But from my first day at Football Factory (Wednesday 3, Hull City 1), the New York Owls have always made me feel welcome. And while I may have taken a slightly unusual path to get here, I will proudly descend the Football Factory steps at 7 AM this Saturday belting out “Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday.” There are some benefits to being stubborn.