Wednesday, September 25, 2013

And here’s how I fell in love …

Everyone remembers the moment they were first hit by love. And I do too, vividly!

It was another of those boring days in school, where the only respite was provided by the Computer Lab session in the evening. Even the joy of sitting in front of the computer and working on exotic software like Power-point and Word in Comic Sans was made slightly torturous with a 40 minute long theory session where we were taught how to click on the start button and open Word, and the various options in the menus in MS Word!

Those were the days when PSBB had started this USN system – which was a precursor to Aadhar to give one single number to every student to identify them even after they graduate – instead of a roll number every year, and photographs of all students were stored in a ‘secret’ folder in the computer lab.  The prospect of hitting upon the entire database of photographs of the school’s students was too enticing for a bunch of kids who had just hit adolescence. And we did just what kids could. Check every hidden folder.

And it was during that hunt, that I struck gold. I had heard about it before, but had never given a thought as I found it too boring. Just through sheer boredom of having no better thing to do, than make an ‘Action Button’ on Power Point to take my Presentation to the next slide; I opened the file. And it was love at first sight.

The stylish guy from the 'Sharp' team
The green field. The good-looking face and the hair-style. And the curve! The curve that the ball took before landing over the head of the goalkeeper who had no idea what to do, than just back-track and watch. The name below said ‘David Beckham’ with a jersey of what I thought then; was the ‘Sharp’ team. The famous goal from the halfway line, that brought me to the game of football. 

It was around the same time as the 2002 World Cup in Japan, and the frenzy that followed with Beckham’s arrival in Japan; and the full page feature that The Hindu’s Young World did on him. And I caught on to the bandwagon. More exploration of THE folder followed in the weeks to follow and I caught up with a hairy chested man who ran like crazy after scoring an unbelievable goal. By then I knew enough football to identify Manchester United as the team, and my team for life.

Around the same time, FIFA 2002 happened, with a spanking new PC at home with 256 MB RAM and plenty of free time to kill. And the interest only grew. I became yet another of those guys, from my generation for whom football started with David Beckham, and thus Manchester United. Hours of video downloading, courtesy the super-fast 256kbps broadband followed. Freekick after freekick. Long range goals. Amazing assists. Of course, the celeb-dom that led every move of his being under scrutiny.

One love! :)
It was around the same time that EPL started becoming the new ‘hipster’ thing in school, and everyone was discussing the games and players. Red was the new colour of choice. Arguments ensued at home to buy a Man United jersey and I ended up buying one of the cheaper 200 bucks ones; along with an England Michael Owen Jersey as my mom felt the United red was too gaudy to be wearing around! And I was well and truly in love.

With the player, and more so with the team; who seemed to have a great history of winning things. And winning things from unbelievable circumstances. Like the Champions League final. The memory of which serves as a lifetime inspiration for me to never give up, or lose hope; however bad things seem.

Like every love story, the honeymoon period soon came to an end. The famous boot-kick happened. And David Beckham was booted out of United. Tears were shed. And a new favorite who had a knack of scoring goals all the time, was instated. Ruud Van Nistelrooy. And soon, things got worse. The team stopped winning, and things went from bad to worse. And for a few moments, there seemed like there was no coming back, with the Moneybags revolution in the EPL. The Sportstar and the Hindu’s miniscule coverage and Brian Glanville’s tremendously pissing off columns about United being a team in a decline, added to the misery. A terse few years followed, and the lows went on to make the ‘relationship’ stronger.

The Carling Cup win gave some hope. But the most vivid memory of hope returning, remains Middlesborough defeating Chelsea 2-1 in the 2006-07 season; with United winning the same Gameweek with Ole Solksjaer returning to score a goal. TV access was missing, but just reading the half page report in the Hindu, gave me a surge of hope. Something that coincided with a particularly bad personal streak with a flunk in a Physics exam in school! If United can, so could I; was the motto those days.


And United did. In style, notching up a Premier League title. And my first Title triumph after I actually understood football. Noob-dom marked the first, where a Sportstar article saying Ronaldo (fat) had won the European Player trophy left me wondering how a Brazilian could be the European Player of the year!

Every United win has been followed by euphoria and a kick like nothing else. And every defeat, in sullen moods and depression! And the time before an important match, is spent praying for a United win. Like today’s Liverpool game; with the hope that a United defeat doesn’t end up ruining my birthday! J

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