By Richard Cowman
Some of us will have had it before – you pass them in the street or meet them in a pub with their new partner and the old feelings come flying back.
You feel sick in your stomach – perhaps even guilty about how you blew it and turned your back on them.
The first love – how do you handle the feelings when they return as strong as ever?
16 years away from Bradford had seen my love for the team dwindle – I still have the key ring, the City Gent subscription, the daily need to check BFB, then Width of a Post, and the T&A.
I still direct my venom at the Irish who support Man Utd et al, and fail to support the local teams yet moan that it’s crap and not backed financially. Stop fuelling Ryanair’s profits every weekend and stay local, I tell them.
With City I had only visited for the big games against Leeds and Hudders to make sure the venom was still deep in my gut. The smaller games, if I’m honest, family visits home took priority and VP was only viewed to and from the airport.
Until this season, the results had started to affect me less and less as time drifted on. My love had moved on to my new family and all that entailed. Time was precious.
Then it happened – still wearing the same clothes but with a different hairstyle and a splash of make up – visiting a town near me.
The stomach churned as the old feelings for the first love of my life came flooding back. Should I cheat on the new love of my life and venture to dip a toe in the water with this old flame and risk all that entailed?
As it was I organised a first date since the glory ties at Hudders and Leeds to watch them at Wexford and Bray.
Wexford was a drunken reunion – pints were had long before kick off but the conversation with players by the dug out and in the bar provided a real connection to the newly improved old model.
Bray was different I persuaded my new love to meet my old love – I took my baby son, and two other Bradford lads. My new love found the attraction hard to understand. I, on the other hand, was smitten.
Gary Jones a stand out and a potential new cult hero we have not had since the Ginger one. Hanson sticking two fingers up to the mockers sat to the left of me with his worldy. Will Atkinson was taking some stick, but I liked the way he kept offering for the ball – he was my guilty pleasure that day in the storm.
I had fallen for them again. Trouble lay ahead I could see it. The trouble grew as I joined twitter. #bcafc saved in the phone and constantly reviewed throughout the week with game days seeing feverish checks when my new love wasn’t looking. Shouts of abuse and joy at Jeff Stelling as late equalisers or winners went in.
I was getting caught too often on the phone – I was in too deep.
Then came the cup run. Oh my, what a great love this was again. The early rounds in a cup I could not care less about. Wigan away – as Sky Sports do the penalties I leap with pleasure round the living room.
Little again in the press over here, but folk at work were now less mocking of my little love. My love had reached a further height.
Arsenal – the draw of the round.
My new love looks at me as I discuss flying over – I know it is a step too far – our young lad not sleeping, trouble with the eldest and saving for a house and wedding. Ryanair’s new timetable means its two nights away or a planes trains and automobiles to get back in a day. I withdraw once I see it is on Sky accepting my fate. My old love will have to do without me.
We win. I Mick Channon around the living room nearly putting my arm out of my socket. My new love has gone to bed. I wake her – I’m off to the semi final love you cant stop me from seeing that. She mumbles “we’ll see” but plans are afoot in my head as I lie awake till the small hours. I keep the second leg quiet. Too much too soon.
I get a ticket from an old work colleague. I still owe him the pints. We win – you know the story of the game. My old love is now fully in charge of my emotions, but leaving the ground I am worried. How do I get another night away with my first love?
More illicit texts, emails and phone calls, avoiding questions of who is that texting and what are you up to.
Not to worry the lads in work and her brother do me proud supporting my cause – once in a lifetime, little Bradford – laid on thick its hard for her to resist.
Villa Park. My old work colleague comes up with the ticket again – I still owe that pint as well. I meet a new found friend from Batley living in Ireland and his pals via twitter – one fallen into City due to his Bradford dad, another dragged along five years ago and now in it with us. We drink we worry, we hope – you know the rest. We overnight – we celebrate – I make my plane just – only one of the other three does after I batter down his door.
Wembley – the scramble is on. My first love is now all I can think of. Tickets, travel, accommodation. Ryanair and Aer Lingus websites in melt down as I put in a host of different routes. My first love will be looking resplendent in its best dress claret and amber and it will have a host of new admirers. I have to be there.
Then it happens – can I come? Asks my new love. A spanner in the works. How will she react to the love and passion that has been rekindled? How will she look upon the fact I have eyes for another? More to the point how do I get a bloody ticket for her, and what about the other poor buggers who have the same feelings as me for my first love and cant get one?
Guilt ridden I ring around – an offer of a ticket here but none together. Then a bolt from the blue and free corporate are offered and taken. More than a pint owed here.
The build up, the travel down, all who were there know the story. As I stand to roar my team on an amazing thing happens – my new love stands to join me and bellows out, “Come on City!”.
Back on the train my new love says she can she why I care and now knows what all the fuss is about. Your fans were amazing, did Swansea really care?
So now perhaps the two loves can live side by side, perhaps twitter addiction, and cursing Jeff Stelling might now be seen in a more sympathetic light.
“Now love. The play offs…how am I fixed?”