By 'Tipsy' Phillips

Dear Mr Club Manager,

You might find it hard to believe, but I’m your biggest and most loyal fan, the best you’ll ever get, despite the fact that I hate football with a passion. Did you ask why? Well, you can be damn sure I’ll tell you why.
My house is a shrine in honour of the deity that is your club. The TV, laptop and smartphones have become your altars of worship. I’m sure I have more paraphernalia in my house than you have on your grounds. I have at least 16 jerseys that go through my weekly wash and I would probably earn more than your club’s dry-cleaners if I’m ever lucky enough to get paid for my services. I should start up a merchandise shop from my backyard. I have signed footballs, jerseys, pictures and even a foul-smelling boot. I have banners, beanies, wrist-bands, towels, mugs and everything imaginable emblazoned with your club’s insignia. Very soon, Chief-Oga, the Little-Ogas and Little-madam will decide to paint it all over the walls.

I’m a walking encyclopaedia of club history and stats and I can recite in my sleep all your match fixtures for the rest of the season. I can give a history lesson on all your home and away colours for at least the last five seasons and I calculate point-aggregates and goal-differences the way other women calculate how to save money on their shopping. I know every single one of your players, and unlike most of your female fans, it’s not just the good-looking ones. I know how much each is worth and the rival clubs that secretly and openly covet them. Oh, and by the way, Little-Oga number-three thinks loaning out number 27 was a dumb move. If it’s any consolation, the others practically bit his head off for that.

I’ve been a diligent and faithful follower of your gospel all my life without as much as a peep of complaint. First, I learned at the feet of my father who also served as a priest at your altar. Growing up, I missed all the soaps on TV because he always had to watch the footy. Now, I’ve up-graded to raising my very own mini-football team.  I’ve been “blessed” with five boys, one tom-boy and their father who is no more than a 185-pound sack of hormones and adrenaline when it comes to football. Oh yes, I’m a very patient woman. Each time your club has slapped me on one cheek, I’ve turned the other one and received a blow in the face. This time however, you’ve gone one bloody step too far! Today is my birthday and my football-crazed family forgot about it and it’s your entire fault.

Usually, they get my not-so-subtle hints just in time to buy a single card and scrawl all seven of their names on it. But this year, what do I get? Nada! They all woke up this morning pumped up with excitement, not because it was mommie’s special day, no sir! Today’s date has been marked on the calendar for weeks and I stupidly thought it was because of my birthday. Instead, it was in anticipation of your big match today. And to add insult to injury, Chief-Oga didn’t even bother to get me a ticket. Who else is more entitled to a ticket than me ehn? After breakfast, I got them all dressed in the typical pre-match chaos, straightening jerseys, finding matching socks, pulling beanies over cold ears, wrapping necks in the infuriating red and yellow mufflers, fishing miss-matched shoelaces out of the crevices between the sofa-seats, the twins fighting over who to wear the number 10 jersey and Little-Madam demanding that oldest-Little-Oga let her ride in the front seat. In all of that madness, not a single word to yours-truly, not to talk of the Birthday song.
I fumed all day as I cleaned up the mess they left behind. Then when their devilish-behinds got flogged on the pitch, they came home sulking. Was I even allowed the satisfaction of saying “God catch una”? Iró o! Soon as they got in, Chief-Oga snagged the laptop to re-watch the game online. Little-Ogas tuned the TV to Sky Sports for match highlights. Did anyone ask me if I was done consoling myself with Africa Magic Yoruba before changing channels? Kò joó mehn!
Then the analysis started.
            “…he should have been in the box…”
            “…the defence had holes in it…”
            “…why did he wait so long to substitute…”
            “But you guys scored now!” I said exasperated, watching the replay on the TV. Seven pairs of eyes turned to look at me like I’d said the dumbest thing in the entire universe.
            “Mum, it was off-side.” My eight year old son said slowly, like he was an adult trying to explain something to a very stupid child. Egbàmí!
Little-madam sighed and rolled her eyes. “Seriously mum, how many times do we have to explain the off-side rule to you?”  
Ìyen èmi náà! In their minds now, I’m just an ignorant woman àbí?

Was I allowed to lick my wounds in peace on facebook and twitter? Even that was too much to ask for. Instead of Birthday messages, my news feed was clogged with posts from the fan-war that had started out on facebook. Twitter was no better. BBM nko? Láí-láí! Seriously, if I have to endure anymore of these cyber-space fights or if I hear another word about the Messiless player who Arsenalized Chelshit or about the club that is the “PDP” of the Premier League, I’m buying a shot-gun. The only thing I’m not sure of just yet is who I’ll be shooting: you, the crazy fans or myself! After a life-time of devotion, the least this woman could ask for is one football-free minute on her birthday.

So Mr Manager, you’ve been warned. Watch out because one day, Madam here might just jump at you out of nowhere and scratch out your eyes Ìsàlè-Èkó-style. You’ve really had it coming. And God help the Little-Ogas if at-least one of them doesn’t become a footballer and buy this faithful fan her very own ‘Beckingham’ Palace. Hian!

Yours’ Truly-Tipsy,

Your biggest Fan.

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