I’ve got a new team. Why? Because football comes up with the strangest coincidences and before you know it there’s an everlasting affinity that you’ll one day take with you to your grave. That’s why.
To clear the record I’ll always be a red, I’ll always be Forest through and through, you can never take Nottingham away from me, but don’t tell me you’ve gone on holiday to Spain and not found a love for a new part-time team from the Balearic’s or Canaries? That you’ve not purchased a Valencia or Malaga shirt with some player you’ve never even heard of across the back of it when you’ve been sunning it on the beaches of Costa Blanca or Costa Del Sol as a lucky lucky man walks by?
Maybe you’ve gone big??? Something I did from an early age on my first visit to Spain… Real Madrid or Barca? Back then it was just as tough a decision (as the Messi v Ronaldo dilemma in recent times) and the only reason I didn’t side with Barcelona back then was because they didn’t have a Gary Lineker shirt in the sports shop I was at… Instead… It was no9 Salinas… Or no7 Butragueno of Real Madrid. I chose the latter and ever since I’ve always looked out for and admired the Kings team as my numero uno en Espana. That was at least until Almeria came along. They were only formed in 1989… By the time I had heard of this ‘new’ team in the mid-nineties I was into my fifth or sixth Spanish holiday and even deeper into Madrid merchandise… But UD Almeria were (and are) the team closest to my family’s home in Spain… My Grandma & Grandpa live in Almeria, my mum now lives (sometimes) in Almeria province… It’s a second home, a second city where I have a sense of belonging, a second team was always to be them, it just made sense… Enhanced even further when in 2007 they were promoted to the top flight of Spanish football for the first time in their short history. Real Madrid who??? It’s now very much UDA TID or in Spanish VAMOS UDA.
When picking ‘second’ teams we tend to often go with our relatives for inspiration… My uncle used to take me to watch them… or my grandparents were born there… These days the world is smaller… I would never have a second team in England, Forest & England are one… then it’s support your local sides as best you can… I do have affinity with some more than others having worked at some very likeable part-time club and I recently got asked by someone ‘under the age of 40’ which ‘big club’ other than Forest do I support? It seems nowadays every kid has a Man Utd, City, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal crush, then next will be that team there dad makes them support through gritted teeth… I reminded the questioner that “when I started supporting Forest… We were a big club”. But supporting English sides as your second team?? That’s a no-no for me…
Instead I seem to opt further afield… I grew up in awe when watching the great AC Milan on channel 4. Gullit, van Basten, Rijkaard, Maldini, Baresi, Donadoni… But I holidayed on the Amalfi… And then it became Napoli as my first-choice Italian team.
I once went to Germany and got a real buzz watching Borussia Dortmund play and witnessing just how big that club really are in a country where football is as big as it gets. In Holland I love Amsterdam… So how can I not love Ajax just as much?
Although I’ve never been, I have a fondness for Argentine soccer and Boca Juniors but Racing Club are also one of my favourites, just because I liked one of their players in Gustavo Bou…
Is it wrong to support someone on the basis of their kit? I always liked the New York Cosmos kit so when the club was reborn I had to look out for their results… I had my Stag Do in Latvia, we went to watch Riga play… Now I’m a fan of those too… It’s amazing how these small factors get you siding territoriality with something that has been previously totally irrelevant in your life.
Take Covid-19… ‘Ah not that again’… You say…
Well it ended football didn’t it? My game, my hobby, my life was taken away… Suddenly none of the above teams could be witnessed and enjoyed… A global shut down on the sport I love and adore… Well not quite ‘globally’…
Belarus is a country of roughly 10m inhabitants sandwiched between Poland in the East and Russia in the West, the former Soviet State is South of Latvia and Lithuania and North of Ukraine. It’s capital Minsk.
Now I’ve never been to Belarus, ask me about Belarusian football and I’ll answer, Aleksandr Hleb… Because that’s all I know… That was… Until Covid-19. Because despite a disease that has shut the world down, shutting down football across pretty much all of the world… Football in Belarus still goes on.
Ironically, as global lockdown dominoed in March the new season of the Belarusian Premier League was just getting under way. Missing my fix from a blank weekend following the English leagues decision to cancel things ‘until further notice’ I trawled my betting app to find a game that I could perhaps watch by casting from my device to my TV… the first game I found… FK Slutsk verses Dinamo Brest… And a new heart felt relationship began.
I couldn’t support Slutsk… Such a silly name, Dinamo Brest however…. That sounded just as silly, but a bit naughtier, and they wore a crisp all white kit, like that of Real Madrid and my memories of that team of the 80’s and my first foreign shirt bearing the name of Emiliano Butragueno.
Dinamo won the game 1-0 with a goal from (my favourite player) Artem Milevsky… From there it became ritual to back them during lockdown… In the only country in Europe where football is being played, Dinamo Brest were the only team in Europe for me.
It’s not been an easy ride though…. After beating Slutsk, Dinamo were beaten at home by Slavia Mozyr 2-1. After winning at home in the first leg of the cup then in the league there was suddenly three defeats in a row including a 1-0 loss at Vitebsk after an 87th minute penalty when Brest were down to nine men. Knocked out of the cup after being 2-0 up against Shakhtyor (4-0 on agg) eventually losing the tie 2-4 and ruining accumulated coupons from Minsk to Mansfield, from Grodno to Grimsby… But since that disappointing day Dinamo have bounced back in beating first Belshina and then more impressively Minsk on Sunday night in the Dinamo Derby to move to sixth place in the table and just three points behind BATE Borisov who are (as usual) at the top.
On reflection from my month or so of memories… My love for Brest has only just begun… But thanks to the strangest of circumstances my affinity with them will be everlasting.
Funny how things work out isn’t it?