Ladies and gentlemen of the season 2022-23, wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth team. You will not understand the power and beauty of your young players until they’ve been released or poached by City, but trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of them and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before them, and how fabulous their hair was.
(image © Oldham Athletic)
Anthony Gerrard WAS as fat as you imagined.
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to win matches by wearing your lucky pants. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you with a club statement at 2pm on some idle Tuesday.
Visit one ground every season that scares you.
Don't spout bigoted crap at the match or on social media, don't put up with people who do.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy.
Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.
The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself. And 23 other teams.
Remember the good victories, forget the insults of Salford at home and Harrogate away.
If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old programmes, throw away your banning orders.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what xG is.
The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what xG was.
Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
Eat plenty of pies.
Go to your local pub.
You’ll miss it if it closes.
Maybe you'll get promoted, maybe you won't.
Maybe you’ll get relegated, maybe you won't.
Maybe you’ll lose twice to Dorking Wanderers.
Maybe you'll knock Fulham out of the FA Cup.
(image © Gus Sivyer)
Whatever you do, don’t expect too much, or berate the players too much either.
Your results are half chance, so are everybody else's.
Enjoy your team, support them every way you can.
Don’t be afraid of what other people think of them.
They ARE the greatest team the world has ever seen.
Cheer them on even if you do it in your own living room.
Read this blog even if you don’t follow me on Twitter.
Do not read the Realistic Fans Facebook page, it will only make you feel angry.
Go to the match with your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings, even if they support City or United. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to text you in sympathy when we lose.
Understand that friends come and go, but hold on to the ones you go to the game with.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, for as the older you get, the more you need the people who remember the messy away days you went on.
Watch the Roughyeds sometimes, but leave before it makes you hard.
Watch Avro FC sometimes, but leave before it makes you soft.
(image © DannyCacti)
Accept certain inalienable truths.
Ticket prices WILL rise, players WILL leave, you too, will get old.
And when you do, you’ll fantasise that when you were young, ticket prices were reasonable, players stayed at one club for life, and children supported their local team.
Support your local team.
Don’t expect anyone else to keep your club going.
Maybe you'll have a rich owner, maybe you’ll have an EFL loan.
But you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t buy every replica shirt or by the time you’re 40 you'll own 85.
Be careful whose opinions you listen to but be patient with those who share them.
Football opinions are a form of nostalgia, sharing them is a way of fishing the past from the bin, wiping it off, glossing over the ugly parts, and hyping it for more than it’s worth.
But trust me on the sunscreen.
(image © Diego Sideburns)
Written by Arlene Finnigan