• Getting Shirty

    Wearing my Derry City shirt over here in England I do get the odd, er…odd look. I’ve been mistaken for a Stoke City, a Sunderland, and an Inter Milan fan, among others on occasion (home, home, and away kits respectively). We play ‘jumpers-for-goalposts’ (or Finn Harps) level football in the park at the weekend and while it can be a great way of breaking the ice with people, everyone spent last weekend asking me how I felt about losing the FA Cup to Manchester City.

    Sadly, it’s the same when I’m home in Ireland. That said, spotting another LOI-coloured fan is always nice. It’s a Friday night and you’re walking down Grafton Street on the way to a game, when a girl in a Shels top walks past. For just a brief second, among the shop assistants on their way home, the office workers going for a pint, the tourists, and the Ladbrokes sign advertising odds for the nights Blue Square League matches you share a kind of mutually acknowledged respect- we are LOI fans on our way to see our teams play.

    It’s happened to me a couple of times, where I’ve noticed a fellow LOI fan, and there’s been a little nod between us- like two lovers meeting for the first time we allow our eyes to teasingly meet across the busy street, a smile to play upon our lips, a self-conscious shuffling of feet, and a flirtatious greeting, “You’re ****, and you know you are!”

    Being from Derry, if I’m ever at a gathering of people and someone there is from Northern Ireland, we’ll inevitably get introduced to each other in a way that suggests we should be great friends and have loads to talk about. Similarly, if I’m wearing a LOI shirt in a public place and I see someone else wearing one, I feel that people are looking at us and wondering if we don’t know each other, or at what point one of us will open a conversation with the other. At such times, it becomes a little awkward, but perhaps that says more about my Larry David-esque awareness of social awkwardness than anything more profound.

    I do often try to scan the badges on people’s coats as they walk past though, looking for a LOI one. I check scarves in what I imagine to be a surreptitious way to confirm whether the guy in front is wearing a Liverpool or a St. Pats scarf. It’s almost always a Liverpool one.

    In my salad days I made the mistake of wearing my Leeds United shirt- with ‘Kewell 10′ on the reverse- through a market in central Rome the week after everyone’s favourite Australian waster scored to put Roma out of the UEFA Cup. While I’ve never since experienced quite the same sort of frenzied attention I did then, it has been interesting wearing a LOI shirt abroad. In countries where the Premier League doesn’t cast a long shadow over everything football, it’s a good talking point. Warm welcomes greeted a Derry City shirt around Paris after our Europa League game there (or maybe they were Sunderland fans), although one fancied this was helped somewhat by the fact we lost. Things may not have been quite so rosy had the Candystripes managed to put Paris St. Germain out.

    As someone fairly active on LOI football forums, it also often strikes me that the person I pass in the street could be someone who I ‘know’ from the virtual world. And yet for some unfathomable reason I’ve never been able to muster up the courage to sidle up to some Shamrock Rovers clad fan walking down O’Connell Street and inquire, “Are you from the internet?” Name badges are surely the way forward for us double (League or Ireland fans and internet forum frequenters) nerds. Perhaps they could be added to the reverse of a club shirt instead of a player’s name? In the meantime, we’ll just have to make do with our club shirts- our very very own secret handshake, that the majority of the population have no knowledge of.

    Taken from We Play On Fridays- the only online LOI fanzine
    Write for WPOF
    This article was originally published in blog: Getting Shirty started by thischarmingman
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. outspoken's Avatar
      outspoken -
      That was a fantastic read man.
    1. peadar1987's Avatar
      peadar1987 -
      There's nothing better than a kickabout with the lads, them all wearing Barcelona, Liverpool, and Chelsea tops, and me wearing my Bray gear. It's a moment to savour when Gary Dempsey gets the ball, and waltzes past Messi, Gerrard and Terry, before slotting home past the token Brentford supporter!
    1. Mad Moose's Avatar
      Mad Moose -
      Only let down by the Finn Harps/jumpers for goalposts comment. Otherwise a really nice read and some nice association there. I think I met a guy in Preston recently who was wearing a Shams coat and we got chatting. I often wear one of my LoI shirts while out running and people often subconsciously or even consciously glance to identify the team sported and it is a mutual connection for a brief moment.

      I play with a GAA club in Nottingham I think in my time I've seen one other LoI shirt other than my own, that been a St Pats shirt. I've seen enough English club shirts along with the customary GAA shirts from home.
    1. horton's Avatar
      horton -
      Excellent read as always.
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