Big changes often creep up on you in life.
You may have a photo of your sweet little kids in your wallet but one day you look up and they’re grown up adults and don’t have much to say to you.
You and someone else may have fallen madly in love but eventually you notice that you don’t have much left to say to each other.
A best friend is someone you can always turn to – except, of course, when they get ill, fade away into illness and die.
I’ve been searching around for an analogy that conveys how the end of something you thought would last forever seems to be over. For that’s how I increasingly feel about me and my team. After 54 years, is it over between me and the Bluebirds?
The re-brand is 18 months old now. Lots of other fans have reached their tipping point at different moments. For me, it’s somehow been a more gradual process: slowly but surely I find myself caring less about how my team are doing.
Yes, I’m still going to games (I paid for my season ticket so I’m hardly going to not use it); yes, I still follow away fixtures via web-streams (gone are the days of affordable tickets at other grounds, it seems); yes, I still whoop with delight at the (rare!) moments that we score.
But somehow it feels less important in my life. And it’s basically because the club I supported for all those years simply isn’t there any more.
The shirts are wrong, The badge is wrong. The nickname’s been banned. The stadium’s not the old one. The players clearly have no loyalty to much other than their enormous obscene earning potential. The owner’s unarguably a ruthless megalomaniac who will do whatever suits his financial interests. Every other employee of the club seems to have become a frightened yes-man. Many fans wear the red, though thankfully these are a shrinking proportion.
So why can’t I keep the faith? Why can’t I hang in there until the day eventually comes when Tan sells up and we return to blue? Because, in all probability that’s what will happen (though who knows if it’ll be months or years until it does happen).
But something’s died. Something can’t be repaired.
Even though I’ve marched, protested inside and outside the ground, worn the blue unwaveringly – my loyalty’s been met with contempt. My faith has been trampled on and exploited. My devotion has been worn down. My bond with the club has been discarded and replaced with a commercial arrangement.
And even if something resembling “normal service” is ever resumed, I’ll never be able to trust in the same way again. It’s very like finding a lover has been unfaithful – even if you can find it in your heart to forgive them, things are never the same again.
And that’s where I’m left – watching with a great deal more distance in my heart than I ever thought possible. Feeling less joy and less pain at each goal and result.
It’s not all over, not yet. But things will never be the same. I’m left with a very modern feeling of disillusion and cynicism. It’s very, very sad.