“The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football.”
― Terry Pratchett
Though we hadn’t been following English Football (soccer) closely this season, it was recently brought to our attention that Vernon’s hometown team, The Bournemouth Cherries were just a few games away from being promoted into the elusive Premier League—aka playing with the Big Boys.
Bournemouth is a sleepy southern town and their stadium is much smaller than the big teams. They have never got this far. In fact, they were nearly out of business just a few years ago. But they are well-loved by the locals, and Vernon grew up rooting for them. His dad faithfully attends the game every weekend they play home. And Vernon, whenever asked what his favorite team is, will always answer “Bournemouth,” although a blank stare is usually the response. It’s not exactly a household name.
Here is Vernon as a kid, posing with his jersey and his ball. Most of his childhood photos show him in a soccer-kit. He loved playing.
Now, if you know anything about England (or most other countries outside of America) soccer is a massive sport there. It’s extremely popular, so much so that it’s fondly called “the Beautiful Game.” When Vernon and I were first married, and he would scratch his head about how people were so passionate and divided over political parties in America, I used to compare that to how loyal and committed English fans were to their chosen football teams. It’s a for-life thing, usually. (Not sure how correct I was with my analogy, but it drove the point home.)
Well, last night, in the match that would make the difference, Bournemouth won and was all but ensured their promotion to the Premier League. Its very unlikely they won’t make the point they need on Saturday. The odds are almost guaranteed to be in their favor. It was very exciting to follow the story. Vernon’s good friend in Norway wrote to update me. Then I got an email from his mother, making sure I’d tell him the unbelievable news.
Of course I couldn’t wait to share the news. After all, he was so impressed with the possibility a few weeks ago. But you never know what response you are going to get with Vernon these days. He didn’t react quite like I thought. He didn’t seem surprised at all. If anything, he seemed kind of bored with the news.
In typical Vernon fashion, he will support the underdog until they are no longer the underdog. Its the principle of the thing for him.
Or so I thought. A little later on, he said: “I’ve been thinking, perhaps I should start working with Chelsea football club.” Hmmm….I’ll ask again tomorrow.
Anyway, I like a good underdog story, don’t we all? To rise to unprecedented success from the brink of extinction. I’d like to think of Vernon’s recovery story like this. We may not even be halfway through the story, maybe not even a quarter (groan), but there is always a chance. I think they call it TENACITY. Go, Vernon, go! I’m your fan in the downs as well as ups. They’ll balance out one of these days.
“The fact of being an underdog changes people in ways that we often fail to appreciate. It opens doors and creates opportunities and enlightens and permits things that might otherwise have seemed unthinkable.” —Malcolm Gladwell