City Blogger: The Beautiful Game
- 07 January 2014 14:54
- Posted by @BerryFLW
In our latest blog entry, Lorraine Berry shares a sad but uplifting tale of rituals and bonds formed through the beautiful game...
If you share a ritual with another person, what happens to the ritual when the other person dies?
That's what I had to figure out at the beginning of this season. I dreaded the opening game of the 2013-2014 Premier League season.
I was afraid that watching City's opener would just be too tough—that it would remind me of my father too much—and that it would be painful to watch.
Watching City was something that had always kept me connected to my dad.
I watched the matches, in part, so that when they were over, I would have the opportunity to call my dad and chat about the games.
It wasn't clear to me that I had a relationship to City independent of my father: was I just a fan because I had been brought up to be a fan?
Did I watch City because my dad watched City? Or did I have my own love for the team that would survive my father's death?
"I want to make it clear. It wasn't that I didn't love City. I did."
But part of the reason that I loved City was that it kept the lines of communication between my father and me open.
I would often read something about City in one of the papers and send him a link to the article, asking him his opinion of the writer's perspective.
My dad, being my dad, he always had an opinion on someone else's piece of City journalism.
City was my dad's and my "thing," one of the parts of our bond that allowed us to talk to one another.
Now I had to find out if my love for City was going to withstand the sudden loss of my dad.
My partner, Rob, who is an American and who did not follow football before he met me, has become my companion when watching games.
He knows that at some point on Saturday or Sunday morning, everything is going to stop so that we can watch the game together.
And so it was on opening day that Rob kept me company as I sat, paralyzed with grief, and watched that first game.
But I didn't feel as if I had any other choices. I could have made the choice at the beginning of the season that I was going to stop watching MCFC because it was such a brutal reminder that my dad was no longer with us.
Funnily enough, Rob and I had started watching the old British television series Life on Mars, set in Manchester.
Imagine how I felt when in episode five of the first season, Sam (who is a United fan) talks to someone about how important it is to continue to watch the matches after you've lost your father.
"He argued that giving up watching football because his dad had died would have been like losing his father all over again, and I understood that."
Stopping watching City because my dad wasn't around to enjoy the games with me anymore would have only made the pain of my dad's death worse.
It wouldn't have made me feel any better not to watch. It would have just been a further reminder that my father wasn't around to watch the games with me. I would have been depriving myself of something that gave me joy in some misguided effort to avoid the pain of missing my dad.
It turned out, City was important enough to me to keep watching—not on my own—but with Rob.
But another something wonderful has come out of all of this. I have discovered that my mum is as big a fan of football as my dad was.
On those days when the BPL is on telly, my mum will watch all the games.
Not just the City ones, but she'll sit and watch whoever's on that day.
So now, there's a new ritual. After a match, I call my mum.
We share our opinions of certain players, dissect Pellegrini's decisions, talk a lot about the chemistry on the field when Pellegrini plays certain players, and how the chemistry is different when he switches the side up.
I wouldn't have known, unless my father died, that I could have a football relationship with my mother.
And I wouldn't have known that my feelings for the team are deeper than a loyalty built on family ties, but are, in fact, my own.
I am my father's daughter, but I am also a true Blue fan.