The duality of supporting two golf equipment


Most individuals stay and die by their beloved membership and its colours. What about those that have eyes and coronary heart for extra? We discover the story of 1 such fan, who loves Ajax Amsterdam and Manchester Metropolis in equal measure.

Artwork by Debanjan Chowdhury

Why do folks select to stay within the chilly? It’s a query typically requested by these warm-climate dwellers. The explanations – or excuses – typically embrace one’s profession, one’s familial associations, and even cultural advantages. For instance, it’s a painstaking course of to brush two ft of snow from a automotive on a brisk New England morning, the nice and cozy solar unable to thwart a gust of freezing wind. However the advantages to learning in and round Boston are quite a few.

I believe there’s one thing else that pulls folks, or a minimum of retains folks, within the chilly. There’s one thing to be mentioned about the advantages of occasional struggling. The coldest climate a San Francisco resident should put together for is gentle: a lightweight jacket will typically suffice. It’s an important profit, but they could by no means perceive the sensation of strolling right into a heated house after hours in freezing circumstances. The consolation of a scorching espresso mug’s heat caress on chilly lips. Hedonistic life characteristic little ache, however that lack of discomfort minimises the online achieve of utility happiness, as an economist would put it.

Very like our selection of residency, our selection (or inheritance) of a soccer membership modifications how we expertise pleasure. Whereas a Torino supporter cherishes each victory on the Derby della Mole, a Juventus fan may even see it as simply three extra obligatory factors. Success begets expectation, and that expectation reduces our tolerance for struggling. A Miami native and Chicagoan have similarities and variations, similar to supporters of Barcelona and Espanyol.

My expertise as a soccer fan differs drastically to most. I’m distant from the true motion, and solely began watching the sport 4 or 5 years in the past. Most significantly, although – and most related to this story – I help two golf equipment.


The board on the East Didsbury Rail Station flashed Manchester Airport – 30 minutes. My coronary heart sunk. The airplane again to Amsterdam Schipol was attributable to board in simply over an hour. I used to be harassed – very not often am I late for something. The perspiration below my North Face jacket was made worse by my aching again. My overstuffed backpack and I had traveled to Manchester, England for a 24-hour tour which featured a Greggs’ ham and cheese baguette and a mystifying Leroy Sané free kick.

One 12 months in the past, my go to to the Etihad would have been a dream come true. My perspective on European soccer, as an American, was all the time one in every of admiration from an ocean away. By the point I flew to Manchester, nevertheless, I used to be within the midst of my semester overseas in Amsterdam. Europe had turn out to be one thing tangible to me. The mystique of European soccer was changed by a concrete infatuation.

The canals of Amsterdam are not pixelated photographs on Google. The considered Munich’s Oktoberfest now evokes the odor of Hofbrau beer. The gamers of Ajax Amsterdam, Manchester Metropolis, and each membership in between are not outlined by how they act on a display; I’ve seen them in individual, up shut and private.


Ajax Amsterdam is a stupendous membership from half a world away. The majestic red-and-crisp-white jerseys equate to soccer royalty. De Toekomst – Ajax’s famed youth academy – produces probably the very best kids in world soccer. Historic names like Keizer, Cruijff, Michels, Krol, De Boer, Rijkaard, van Basten, Bergkamp graced the touchline at De Meer or dazzled on its grass. From the surface, Ajax is spectacular. Pristine. Lovely.

That magnificence doesn’t fade when you expertise the membership in individual, however it’s shifted. Ajax is the one main membership in a metropolis mad concerning the sport; the streets, the buildings, pubs…folks. They’re one with Ajax. You achieve one thing by being there in individual: the sensation when David Neres scores a objective to start out a beautiful Halloween night. The enjoyment of chatting with fellow supporters, ranging in age from 16 to their late seventies. A connection to town and, thus, a more in-depth connection and love for the membership.

However you start to see negatives as nicely. The Dutch are, unbeknownst to lots of them, a considerably racially unaware folks, and the membership displays that. I’ve sat in first-tier and second-tier seats on the Johan Cruijff ArenA, east and west stands, and nearly everybody I see is white. For a metropolis proud to host folks of many alternative racial backgrounds, this made me a bit uneasy.

“See that section there?”

An adolescent sitting subsequent to me pointed throughout the stadium to the F-Aspect: the supporter part.

“That’s where my friend sits. The Caribbean section of the F-Side.”

Once I met up with a Dutch pal exterior town one weekend, I used to be decided to ask him about it.

“Ajax is an old boys’ network of mostly middle-aged white men.”

Amsterdam is essentially the most progressive space within the nation, so I used to be shocked once I discovered about how old style lots of Ajax’s practices are. Some folks choose to not know these items concerning the membership they love. I can see why.


Down the street from the Etihad there’s a pub known as Mary D’s. Followers ritually collect there earlier than each Metropolis match; a chance to socialize and seize a couple of beers earlier than the match. I used to be there to observe a Champions League bout, so I ordered the basic fish and chips down the street earlier than becoming a member of the commotion at Mary D’s.

With a Blue Moon in hand, I discovered the closest empty standing area and stuck my eyes on the tv.

“Unbelievable! They’ve received their B-team in, however they shouldn’t be shedding to CSKA Moscow.”

I sipped my citrusy beer and egged him on.

“Yeah, Real are having a tough season, huh?”

The awkward, scruffy man has been watching Metropolis since he can keep in mind. When requested how I started supporting them, I hesitated. How can my five-year fandom, one created out of the need to observe a staff on NBC Sports activities and never an unlawful stream, match as much as the a whole bunch of experiences this man has loved for years?

He was shocked by my short-lived help. By my Americanness. However he wasn’t standoffish nor any much less accepting of me as a fellow Metropolis fan. We chatted about how the season was going, completed our beers, and he warned me that I must be going as to not miss kick-off. However I by no means informed him about Ajax. That might be like mentioning a spouse whereas spending time with a mistress.

My loyalty to my golf equipment has not often been questioned throughout my time watching soccer, however I can see why persons are hesitant to simply accept it. Soccer groups are golf equipment: teams of tightly knit individuals who have the widespread denominator of watching two hours of a sport on Sunday afternoon. It may be construed that my loyalties are break up, and generally they’re when each groups are on on the similar time. However I’d wish to see it extra as a doubling of loyalties as a substitute of a break up. I positive as hell watch extra soccer than the typical fan, anyway.


The window via which I see my two favorite golf equipment was tinted earlier than travelling to Europe. The distinction between the golf equipment, their histories, and the followers was obvious, however I by no means understood the true complexities of these variations. Manchester is working-class and Metropolis displays that. It’s a neighborhood membership the place a father and son can take pleasure in some banter with the safety guards on the touchline. Overseas affect appears rampant from exterior, however from inside, the membership continues to be very a lot Manchester Metropolis.

Ajax is totally different. Its world profile has lessened to that of Metropolis’s however its total cultural significance is larger. The glasses via which the nation of the Netherlands sees Ajax has two totally different lenses. One, a gold-shaded lens that is aware of the membership is each the glue to the Dutch footballing historical past and its future. The opposite lens is blackened, and people across the nation see nothing however scum and highfalutin pretentiousness. There may be drama, issues get political, and town is inseparable from the membership.

Being nearer to Amsterdam, to Ajax, has solely deepened my emotions in direction of the membership. The connection is larger, my data has deepened, and I can admire the whole lot that goes into Ajax just a bit bit extra. I can not say the identical about Manchester Metropolis. Not as a result of I’ve fallen out of affection with the membership, however I simply haven’t had the identical experiences. I by no means thought-about myself to be a “plastic” supporter, and nonetheless don’t, however there’s a lot gained whenever you expertise life inside town of your membership.

Maybe supporting two golf equipment – two traditionally and presently profitable golf equipment – is akin to residing in a heat metropolis. Struggling is stored to a minimal. Weekly victories are as widespread as shorts and t-shirt climate. When a bitter result’s skilled at 10 am, there’s all the time the noontime match to look ahead to.

However possibly it’s the other. Possibly, as a substitute of worrying about Ajax’s last-minute concession towards Heerenveen, I ought to have been celebrating Metropolis’s win over Huddersfield with my fellow Residents. And as a substitute of watching mentioned Huddersfield sport, my time would have been better-served cheering on minnows FC Emmen as they drew with PSV, bringing Ajax nearer to topping the desk.

Some may even see that and assume that supporting two golf equipment is detrimental to the help of every. In these situations, it’s. However supporting a couple of membership vastly will increase my data of the sport. It modifications how I see the game as a complete, and this angle helps me to raised perceive each of my golf equipment. Loving two groups in excellent fairness isn’t doable, as each one in every of our every day experiences modifications us. The love is there, although. And it all the time might be.

Alex Dieker

Alex is an American school scholar learning advertising and marketing, however his ardour lies in soccer writing. A fan of the quirkiness and underappreciated facets of the sport, it comes as no shock that he loves Dutch soccer.

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