Monday 21 October 2019

Hop on board the latest bandwagon

Alan Sothern and his Irish team-mates will take their place at next year's Olympics in Rio
Alan Sothern and his Irish team-mates will take their place at next year's Olympics in Rio

Dave Devereux

There's a few things in life that I blatantly don't understand - Chinese writing, why the word phonetically doesn't start with an 'f' and most baffling of all, sports fans that jump on to any bandwagon that rolls into town quicker than Usain Bolt with a strong wind at his back.

When you see guys in their 30s and 40s wearing Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea jerseys you'd wonder what their motives for supporting their chosen club was, and to make matters worse, fully grown men wearing replica kits as a fashion statement is never a good look.

I must admit I do have the odd jersey myself, but they spend most of their sheltered lives tossed in the corner of the wardrobe gathering dust.

There's a couple of Leinster rugby tops that haven't seen the light of day since I used to occasionally frequent Donnybrook about 15 years ago, a Barcelona jersey which only comes out for a game of five-a-side or the like, an Ireland one that is reserved for an evening in the stands, a few Wexford jerseys that get the odd championship outing, and a Swindon Town top that spends most of its time in a crumpled state of discontent.

Sometimes when I see Swindon plummeting to another depressing defeat in lowly League One I wish I had plumped for whatever team was riding high at the time during my formative years, maybe Man United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea, although when you see that poison that inhabits Stamford Bridge at the moment I'm glad I didn't throw my hat into that particular ring.

Mixed Martial Arts is one sport that seems to have 'die-hard' fans crawling from the woodwork and there's so much talk of cage fighting you'd swear it was a long-held tradition on these shores.

Obviously, I'd recognise Conor McGregor if I saw him striding cockily down the street but I'll readily admit that I wouldn't know Junior Dos Santos from Cain Velasquez or Jon Jones from Alexander Gustafsson.

I have a strong suspicion that a lot of the new-found MMA devotees would have been as clueless as me until very recently - at least until a bit of careful research put them on the right track.

Rugby Union has swelled in popularity in recent years and has been like an alluring honeypot for its swarm of bee-like followers.

When you consider that Munster and Leinster matches would only attract a few hundred spectators a decade and a half ago most followers of the game must have come on board in recent years.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against fledgling fans taking an interest in new sports but when then give off a repugnant whiff of know-it-all nonsense and act as if their support has been a life-long crusade it gets on my wick.

Having said all that, there are a few circumstances where I find instant, polaroid devotion and furious flag-waving just about acceptable.

When the Irish cricketers announced themselves on the world stage by beating Pakistan and later England I have to admit I was cheering them on from afar.

I won't claim to be particularly knowledgeable about the goings on in the game with bat, ball and stumps but I would be vaguely familiar with it.

An Australian acquaintance did heighten my interest in the Ashes a number of years back and I've intermittently watched the odd one-day international, so I'd at least know a little bit about the nuances of the sport.

Hockey, on the other hand, is something I will readily admit that's just about as foreign to me as a hearty Mongolian stew.

An ex-colleague of mine once cruelly remarked that hockey is only for people that can't play hurling - not that I'd share his blinkered view of course (I don't want to get myself into any more trouble).

I would watch the odd bit of hockey every four years when the Olympics comes around, normally catching a few minutes of Australia or Holland or some other world power strutting their stuff in a semi-final or final.

However, the news that the Irish men's hockey team has qualified for the Olympics in Rio has definitely spiked my simmering interest in the sport.

Ireland's hockey adventure is one bandwagon that I will be jumping on gleefully and unashamedly next summer.

All together now - olé, olé, olé, olé, olé, olé.

Bring it on!

Wexford People