It's Euro 2020, but not everyone likes football!

James Weeds wearing a Sunderland t-shirt.

I was quite a passionate Sunderland AFC fan for a little while. - Credit: James Weeds

After much delay, the European Championship is back.

While for many people, this marks a landmark in the football calendar - one that has been sorely missed over the past year - for others, including me, it doesn't mean all that much.

Before I continue, I would like to stress that I don't hate football. Not anymore.

I used to.

To me, football represented the only activity for PE for my four years at high school. For two lessons a week we would don our school colours, stand in a muddy field while the two most athletic students chose their team.


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Not being gifted with the ball, you would think I would be picked last, but no. I was usually second-last or thereabouts.

But no matter what I asked for, and no matter where I could try and improve, I was always stuck in goal.

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At first, I would try, but when the ball never came to my end, it got rather boring.

I wasn't the best footballer to begin with but, by being stuck between those two tall posts, I could never improve either. It became a vicious cycle. A cycle which could be summed up in one sentence: I don't like football and football doesn't like me.

For years that was how it went.

At break time, while most of my friends would kick the proverbial pig's bladder around and swagger with victory, I would be hanging around with the unfit kids, talking and being a clown.

Occasionally, I would run on the pitch and try to hack for the ball.

But people soon became aware of my cheap trick and would never let it near me.

However, while at university, I was living in a town which lives and breathes football.

The team might not be in the Premiership anymore (I think...), but Sunderland is a city which lives for football.

It was while I was there that I saw the positive effect the beautiful game has on people (I also saw some of the negative effects).

James Weeds wearing a Sunderland AFC shirt.

I surprised myself by becoming a Sunderland fan. - Credit: James Weeds

I watched my first very football match on April 14, 2013. It was the Tyne-Wear derby which began the Black Cats' record-breaking six consecutive wins against the Magpies.

Paulo di Canio was the new manager and celebrated more than the players.

After the 3-0 drubbing Sunderland gave Newcastle, the pub went potty.

Beer was flying in the air and the young were hugging the elderly. If you were a fan of the red and white, you were alright.

The following year, Sunderland had a great season and made it to the Capital One final against Manchester City.

The Cats lost, but to see the entire city draped in banners and cladding all supporting their team, it opened my eyes to how powerful the game of football can be.

After leaving university, I had no reason to follow football - no longer living in a city - and my time as a football fan was over.

If someone asked me which team I supported, I would still answer Sunderland, purely because of what the team meant to my temporary hometown, but I couldn't name you one single player.

While the Euros is on, I may check out an England game, but my world isn't much affected by what happens to 'our boys'.

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