Your relationship with your partner = Your relationship with your football club. For better & for worse, for richer & for poorer. Allow Domm Norris to explain.
Relationships. What a load of shit. Please excuse my pessimism - I'm just bitter about the breakdown of my own 'long term' relationship which has been laid to rest much to my dismay, sadness and shame. But such emotion led me to thinking 'hang on, where the hell have I felt this before?' and then came the moment of realisation - the lines between romantic relationships and supporting a football club are inextricably blurred and difficult to separate. Please bare with me...
The beginning of a relationship is full of impulsive actions, thoughts and emotions. The endless stream of possibilities course through your veins as the future becomes blindingly bright and all of life's pessimisms are swept aside - much like the beginning of the season. Before a ball has been kicked football fans the world over become filled with optimism about how their team will overcome the odds and prevail where they have previously failed - overcoming the disappointments that have come before and looking to the future. New signings are like the new lady on the scene - there's so much to look forward to and so little time. The anticipation seeps to the point of explosion - it becomes overwhelming.
But as the season wears on you realise that - like relationships - compromises must be made if you are ever to truly accept the possibilities of the future. Poor form, injuries and suspensions deflate the once enthused while the over expectant are brought back down to earth with a heavy thump. But despite the underwhelming results there remains hope. As your team snatches an unexpected victory from the clutches of the title favourites you're left thinking 'finally, this our time'.
As the winter months roll in from the future a sense of jealousy begins to creep into your consciousness. As other club's spend millions upon millions on strengthening their already impregnable line ups you are left in a state of stagnation - nothing and no one comes and goes. It is as if you're having your nose well and truly rubbed in it. Everywhere else looks like a perfect image of utopia and yet you can't help but feel that things need to be improved - but are powerless in doing so.
However things eventually begin to look as though they are going swimmingly. Your club continues to compete on multiple fronts - and for all the money in the world it seems that things will remain as predictable as a Disney script. But suddenly the world begins to crumble around you. One knock, followed by another, followed by another leaves you on the precipice of no return and the sense of comfort that you previously felt is blown to smithereens in a week of torture, torment and self pity. Yet still, all is not lost and doses of strength and perseverance will only slightly alter your destiny - without entirely destroying it.
But then the season ends. Sometimes abruptly and with unexpected consequences. A Cup final defeat or a last day stalemate that swallows a club into the murky waters of relegation leave you feeling bitter, plotting revenge and grieving. 'How could this happen - what did I do to deserve this?' - an endless stream of self loathing questions. The emotions remain raw as you witness others toasting to their victory. Like public displays of affection their successes are thrust into your face and you are made to bare the brunt of their emotion.
The post season is a period of self reflection. A time to reassess the future and contemplate the past. But despite the initial disappointment and state of numbness a new sense begins to take hold of your body. A chink of light begins to grow on the horizon as you realise that the endless possibilities of the future really are more exciting than the memories that you longed to cherish.
Football is a sport of ups and downs - it is an uncompromising roller-coaster of raw emotion. Sadness can be replaced by anger which can be replaced by joy - the relentless steam of feeling can pass in mere seconds. But the beauty of football is its longevity. You can always be sure that once a season ends there will be a new one to try and enjoy in the very near future - it is a never ending cycle that runs like clockwork. So, you see, football is much like a relationship. It's a long, drawn out battle of joy, sadness and compromise but it can be the most rewarding experience you could ever imagine.
Domm is a regular contributor to IBWM. Follow him on Twitter @footballglobe.