Mugs or marvels? Fans prepare for new tests of devotion

New season, new shirts, same old carry-on.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19th July 2016, 4:11 am
Young Owls fans show off their new kit at Owls in the Park

Hopes raised by one or two pre-season transfers, tub-thumping, wins over Scroggins Athletic or Ragarse Rovers, players showing tanned and toned torsos in training.

We’re ready to go again.

The new Blades home kit modelled by Che Adams, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mark Duffy and Ben Whiteman. Picture: Marie Caley

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So ridiculously, unquestionably, unflinchingly ready that it begs the perennial question: Football fans – salt-of-the-earth or serial mugs?

First thing is it’s too soon, like it’s always too soon.

We should all be used to damp summers by now but getting mentally prepared for a new football season while we’re enjoying the first real sun of the year is a crusher.

It means that nippy and steaming burger vans are only a few weeks away. How depressing. Or it would be if we weren’t so addicted.

The new Blades home kit modelled by Che Adams, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mark Duffy and Ben Whiteman. Picture: Marie Caley

So addicted that we love our drug, devour anything to do with it and can hear shouts from a park game like a dog hears you picking up its lead.

We just have to go and have a sniff round, judge the passing, shake our heads at the ref and what was the centre half thinking there?

Hopelessly addicted, often against our will and better judgment.

Take the Sheffield Wednesday shirt thing.

The new home shirt – looking a lot like Ipswich Town 1982-ish, think Paul Mariner and Mick Mills – has not been particularly well received with a Star poll showing that 58 per cent of fans weren’t that keen. So what happens next?

They’re queueing in their thousands to buy them.

Why when they probably have the last six shirts in a drawer or hanging up at home somewhere?

Because they want to belong, like Blades fans want to belong to their club - a lot didn’t like their new black-shouldered home kit but they’re still buying it.

Every fan around the country wants to be part of their club.

You don’t have to buy the new shirt to be in the gang but it if you do it tells everyone that you are and it’s all part of the ritual that makes football and football fans different to the rest.

Other sports have passionate supporters, big, noisy crowds and commitment but they rarely have that be-all-and-end-all devotion that football engenders.

It doesn’t really matter if we’re salt-of-the-earth or mugs or both, we’re simply smitten.

It’s part of who we are and all clubs rely on that - some with more respect than others.

New season, new shirts, same old carry-on.