What’s it like supporting Ipswich at the moment? There’s a word for it...
PUBLISHED: 14:37 04 February 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Liz Nice says the experience of supporting a struggling team, particularly when your local rival is flying high, needs a new word to explain a very particular brand of hell...
You can’t help whom – or what – you love.
I realised this anew at the weekend, when I went to watch my football team Ipswich Town be defeated at the 11th hour by Sheffield Wednesday, a team we once used to have for breakfast.
Working in Norwich as I do, surrounded by Norwich fans, I am not having an easy time of it and, like St Peter, am at times tempted to deny my allegiances.
I never do though.
You can’t, can you? And generally when I reveal my little secret, I am told by my friends in the Norwich office, ‘Well, somebody has to.’
There were a hardy bunch of us at Portman Road on Saturday and I realised there really ought to be a word for the way we played but there isn’t so I invented one – we were pluckish.
Full of pluck but just not very good (rubbish, really, if I’m honest).
But it is that very pluckishness (there, I’ve invented another one) which hardens the supporter’s resolve into unshakeable affection, for there is nothing more beautiful than a plucky trier, doing their best, not very well, but giving it all they have got.
I stood and watched the players and our increasingly likeable new manager at the end, applauding us, as we applauded them and thought, it is going to be alright here, after all, because we have now seem to have people about the place who care about this as much as we do.
I also started thinking, because I really needed to think about something other than our defeat, that there are lots of emotions and experiences in football for which there are not words.
My Norwich fan colleague Steve Downes wrote last week for example about whether the Norwich fans ought to boo Lambert and concluded that he thought they should. A similar discussion was had at Ipswich about whether we should boo Steve Bruce. But the Ipswich hatred of Bruce (for THAT Milk Cup goal in 1985 which Norwich fans still like to show me on their phones) was mixed with pity over the recent loss of his parents so he was not booed, while the hatred of Lambert stems from a sense of feeling betrayed by ‘an ex who has leapt into the arms of a sworn enemy’, so I suspect he will be needing his tin hat on Sunday.
Thus, it seems to me that in football you boo when it’s a matter of hetrayal (hatred/betrayal) but not when it’s a matter of hempathy (hate/empathy).
There isn’t a word either for the pleasing mixture of respect and humility the players showed us at the end when they applauded, (rumility, hespect?), nor for the experience of never showing emotion about anything in real life, but laying yourself bare while watching the game – soccarthis?
And what is the word for supporting a struggling team while your local rival is flying high? Suggestions please – the best I’ve got (aside from unprintable ones) is smugony – (their smugness, our agony).
I realise that this retreat into a Lewis Carrollesque exploration of new football portmanteaus is the only refuge left to the desperate fan ahead of what I fear will be total derbystation (derby/devastation) at the weekend but it has cheered me up.
Do let me know if you have invented any new words to describe the experience of watching football at firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course Meghan Markle is having a doula.
Everyone who is anyone is, I gather.
Apparently, it’s a woman who sits there and holds your hand when you’re giving birth and puts you first and all that fluffy nonsense but I’m not entirely sure it would be any different to getting your mum in there.
I rather wish my mum had been there when I gave birth in fact.
“Bloody hell, this is agony,’ I would have screamed, to which she would have replied, as she always does with all things over which I make a massive fuss, ‘Yes, dear’.
No doula could beat that.
But honestly, if a doula is there to provide ‘emotional support’ ‘positive energy’ and ‘calm’, I have to ask myself what on earth Harry is planning to do for the big event. Order a pizza?