If you follow my tweets, you’ll know that earlier this week I bought my son his first club football shirt. Not his first football shirt – I bought him an England shirt during the world cup – but his first replica shirt of a club team. That team being my team, Wolves.
Okay, okay, I know. Child cruelty, right? I’m setting him on the path of a lifetime of anguish and suffering following this team and he’ll probably never forgive me, after all, I still haven’t forgiven my dad for doing it to me (not true, there’s nothing to forgive. Some of my greatest memories are from games I’ve been to with my dad) – but this post isn’t about the importance of a son following the same team as his father. It isn’t about the unique feeling that comes with loyally following one team your whole life that you can’t truly understand unless you’ve sat in the stadium in the good times and the bad experiencing the same emotions as thirty-thousand other people.
It isn’t even about the joy and pride with which he worn his shirt to nursery and showed off his name on the back of the shirt. No, it’s about the name I’ve had put on the back of MY shirt.
As you can see, my shirt reads “Papa”. I’ve shown this photo to the girls at work, and those with kids smiled and went “Ahh, sweet.” But the twenty-two year old without kids called it “Cheesy”. Which I can understand. You see, you don’t know what kids do to you, and can’t understand, until you have them.
They say if you’re going to put you own name on the back of your shirt (as opposed to one of the team’s star’s names) then it must be your true identity. It must be who you are. So guys might put their nickname on the back – the one all their football loving mates use. Ten years ago, mine might have read “Knobbie”.
So is it any surprise my shirt today reads “Papa”? Because that’s who I am now. I’m not Marc anymore. I’m not Knobbie, or any of the other nicknames I’ve gone by in the past. I’m Jr’s Papa. That’s my role in life right now. And far from wanting to change it – I want everyone to know it.