A friend of mine posed me a question the other day, after he had watched Middlesbrough lose terribly to Dirty Leeds. Now my friend openly admits he doesn't follow football, he watches Boro on telly if they are on but never goes to matches and doesn't really follow football in general. So his question is 'whats the point of following a team that isn't going to win things? Are you not just chasing rainbows?'
This isn't a question that I have ever properly considered before. I have been a Middlesbrough fan from being around 6 years old, and I have made a huge commitment to following them ever since, sometimes to the detriment of other things.
Logically the question is a good one. What is the point of spending seasons of watching teams that aren't challenging for things? Whats the point if they are not winning?
I have thought long and hard about this answer. So I feel that is falls into a number of categories.
First of all, for some people, you are continuing a legacy that was started by somebody in your family that you probably never met. All following a team from a time when teams were more even, you got players from your local area, and if you got a good batch that were well coached, you won things. That has gone in these days of money and foreign investors but your family's legacy remains the same.
Also it could be a sense of local pride, I know Middlesbrough FC, are an integral part of the community and there was a time that you could predict how busy a Saturday night out would be all down to the result from the afternoon.
However I think the most important factor of following an obscure and ultimately unsuccessful team is emotions. I feel that if I followed a Man United or a Liverpool, possibly the only emotions they have as football fans are that of satisfaction or disappointment, as they are expected to win things, and only winning things provides any satisfaction, and if you don't win things then the season is a disappointment. Although I don't know that for certain.
Yet I am lucky enough that, and I must stress this is occasionally, I can feel disappointment, delight, and ecstasy all within about 20 minutes of a football match, yet there is never really satisfaction and that, I think, keeps things interesting.
You can see changes over seasons, you can go from doldrums to one of the form teams in 6 months or if it takes years, it can bring you a sense of pride that you stuck with it through the dark days.
Also someone said that you should celebrate the little victories in life, and it really is about the little victories, the giant killings, the crucial three points that keeps you safe for another season. Then when there is a 'real' victory it is so very special. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for Boro's first trophy win, ever, and it was one of the most fantastic days of my life.
So in answer to the question, yes it is chasing rainbows, but when you get close to the rainbow, it feels fantastic!