Monday, March 12, 2012

The Search is Over.

Of course you, my terrific tens of readers, have been patiently waiting for an update to my thoughts on supportership of an English Premier League team from December and today you shall not be disappointed... except that to begin to understand my pain, you must watch this entire 4:04 video, which will feel more like 19 minutes of unanesthetized dental horrors:

The lyrics are insignificant. What is important is the utterly painful sounds and visuals this cubic-zirconia of an 80s musical gem offers. 

Now that you've endured it, you must know watching that pales in comparison to the utter calamity and torture of watching a passenger train named Wigan Athletic wrecking down the side of a mountain... over the course of six years. Six years of mental anguish. Six loooong years. Six very looooong years of constant 'what-ifs', 'why-nots', and head-shaking. To be fair, there were some interspersed highlights, albeit counted on less than one-hand's worth, of which nearly all revolved around a final-week reprieve from the sporting gallows.

No matter the outcome of Wigan this season, I have now officially severed all emotional and sentimental ties to this club and after some deliberation have settled on a new club.  Here are the finalists:

Sunderland - a considerably-skilled squad with great kits, decent financial backing, great fans, and storied rivalry with local opposition Newcastle. The addition of one of my favored managers in Martin O'Neill was certainly a boost to the club and my consideration. Ellis Short, an American with Irish heritage, is the current majority owner after being a partner within the previous owners' consortium. The Black Cats appear to be on the upswing although have dallied up and down with the Premiership as recently as the mid-2000s

Everton - a storied and historic club whose 108 years in the top flight of English football is second to none. Coupled with steady manager in David Moyes, the English-owned outfit has maintained an upper-half level. Over it's history Everton has won the top flight 9 times, FA Cup 5, and League Cup twice. They have American keeper Tim Howard, have loaned-in American Landon Donovan, and maintain an historic and friendly rivalry, The Merseyside Derby, with 'The Reds' of Liverpool. The 'Blues' or 'Toffees' enjoy modest, yet continual success in the top flight, and dalliances with European football, often in the shadow of cross-river rivals Liverpool.  

Aston Villa - owned by American Randy Lerner, I have some admiration for a club who hails from what I call the 'Chicago' of England - Birmingham. It is the second largest metro area outside of London with historic recognition for manufacturing and production.  Blue-collar all the way, their storied Second-City Derby with rivals Birmingham City reminds one of the Cubs-White Sox divide. They also have one with nearby West Bromwich Albion which recalls the historic Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers rivalry. Aside from football, Aston Villa has done incredible things within its community (such as donating 300 days of hospice care and the front shirt sponsorship space to Acorns Children's Hospice. They also champion local farming and food systems and provide considerable support to local employment and training services).

Certainly not an easy choice for me but I finally have settled comfortably on one of these clubs...

"And the winner is"...


Another reason I considered Everton, which I didn't state earlier, was that when I went about first selecting a club in 2006, I was down to Wigan and Everton. 'Smaller Upstart' vs. 'Establishment'. While I respected both views and with little separating the two then, I then made my final selection (rather embarrassingly now) on the style of the Home shirt.

With some years of experience now behind me, I can see what drew me to Everton originally is what I like about them today. Granted, their kits aren't the most nattily designed, but do have a continuity which I like.  You may soon see me in something of a solid Royal Blue with the Everton badge, so henceforth, you may consider me a 'Toffee' or a 'Blue' and a fan of "The People's Club".

I extend by thanks to all of you who conscientiously offered suggestions and gave well-reasoned input. It was not in vain and did help me determine what was most important in the evaluations of teams. Nil Satis Nisi Optimum is the motto and 'Nothing but the Best' is what I intend to give them and also look to receive.

As Survivor sang, " the search is over, you were with me all the while". It is my sincere desire to not be at this point again someday, so now, as an Evertonian, I must be true. 

True Blue.