by Mike Forrest
Turn on Sky Sports News and you will doubt at some stage catch some interview where a person is claiming that their team is “special”. From Portsmouth to Arsenal, fans will claim that they are a “special” club and that it takes a certain “special” breed of person to follow that club. However with every fan and club making this claim doesn’t that by default mean that they are infact normal?
For me, every club is unique but not special. Just like every person in the world is unique and has their own idiosyncracies but that doesn’t make them special. If every person in the world has their own idiosyncracies then no one is special. It is the person without the idiocyncracies that is the special one.
Now lets apply this logic to football. How can every club be special? It goes against the very definition of the word to suggest that every club is so but football fans would have you believe that their club really is. They will make this claim based on the club’s history or because it has a lovely stadium or simply because the tea lady has been the tea maker for the previous 70 years.
But they are all wrong. The “specialality” of club is measured by their current day successes. For instance, I believe that Manchester United are a special club. Why? Because they have been winnning the league year after year. However if Manchester United become like Leeds for instance, then their claim is eroded as they have remissed back to normality of not winning anything.
Winning makes you special. Only one team out of a field of 20 competitors in the Premier League can win, and the winning team has to be special as the other 19 clubs did not win. The other 19 clubs are normal and have the common theme of being losers but the winning club did something above and beyond the norm. My course of thought also applies for cup competitions. Take Liverpool for example, they have been normal in the league for decades now but their ability to win cup competitions has sustained their “specialness”.
Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Leeds United and so on were all special in decades gone. However recent and present day results dictate that they are no longer. They were special clubs; note the use of past tense. They can no longer validate this claim as between them they haven’t won anything in years and thus are the same as the vast majority.
Yesterday I heard someone euligising Wolves after their relegation was confirmed and the person claimed that Wolves were a “special” club. Wrong. Wolves are not, unless the person was using the word in an unpolitically correct manner in which case I would have thoroughly agreed as they have been hideously mismanaged both on the field and off it this season.
Some clubs such as Chelsea have attempted to demfamiliarize the familiar of being normal and have bought their “specialness”. Their “specialness” though is artifical and thus their “specialness” will recede faster when they stop winning trophies than Manchester United as United’s claim has been organic and sustained for a longer period of time.
I am equating the remarkableness of a club to being successful and winning. I’m sure detractors of this piece will claim that winning isn’t everything and that their club still is special for any number of other reasons. To those of you thinking that, you are wrong. Your club is normal and that is ok. It is ok to be normal, infact it’s even good to be normal. Your club’s idiosyncracies make the club unique and that is a rather wonderful thing in itself.
Embrace your club’s normality rather than self-propelling yourself onto the ego appeasing but false platitude of “specialness”. Enjoy your club’s indioscyncracies and uniqueness and when they finally win something, revel in the knowledge that you will be finally indeed be “special”. For a period of time.