I would like to start my blogging journey by telling you about my vast journey as a football fan, which has taken me from Wigan, to the Premier League, to Wembley Way, to Beijing and back again.
My love of the beautiful game started as a child in 1998, when my dad encouraged me to watch a World Cup quarter final game, Germany vs Croatia. My most vivid memory from that match was my father running around like a school boy when Croatia scored their second goal to effectively eliminate the Germans from the World Cup. The passion, the joy, the emotion. I was hooked. And have been since that very day.
Being born and raised in Wigan, a town which at that time was without a notable football team, I started my days as a football fan as a ‘neutral’, eagerly setting my eyes upon any match I could find. However, that changed when my best friend’s mum suggested taking my friend and I to a Wigan Athletic game. At first I wasn’t convinced. “Wigan Athletic”I thought. It was just a matter of time before everything changed.
My first game was against Notts County in 1999 in front of about 3000 fans, most of them away fans. Andy Liddell scored a penalty and that memory has stuck with me to this day. My early days as a Latics fan were rather fortunate. I was there when we beat Preston 5-0, and I was there when we beat Reading 3-1 to get promoted to the Premier League. Little Wigan. Premier League!!! This wasn’t in the handbook. Even that day there were only about 12000 fans in the stadium. But they were real fans, real passionate football supporters. This is where I felt I belonged.
As any Wigan fan would tell you… The best day in history was 11th May 2013. I don’t think a week goes by when I don’t replay ‘that’ goal on YouTube. The last three minutes felt like an eternity but we did it. Wigan Athletic FA cup champions!!! Memories shot back to the first game I ever watched in front of 3000 fans in League One. Now we were holding the Cup in front of 25,000 crying pie eaters. Being a football fan just doesn’t get any better than that anywhere in the world.
Aside from football my passion is travel. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in both China and Russia, where I am currently residing. I like to combine my passions at every opportunity so by chance, I found the Chinese Super League. My city of residence in China was a second tier city called Chongqing. I looked on Wikipedia to see if they had a team, and sure enough they did, Chongqing Lifan. I got a couple of mates together and we went to the game. The stadium was huuuuuuge! 57,000 and only about 10,000 fans inside. The passion of the supporters reminded me of when I first got interested in football, and from then on I went to every game. Lifan got promoted at the end of the season to play in the CSL. To my utter shock, I turned up to the first game of the season against Beijing Guo’an in front of 50,000 fans. The atmosphere was electric and comparable to the Premier League. As a result, I became a huge Lifan supporter and I even went to see them play away in Shanghai!
My travel has almost introduced me to Zenit St. Petersburg, and I will be documenting some of my experiences of football abroad on my blog.