I have a confession, I am not proud of. I have not seen an Aberdeen game in close to two years, either in person or on TV/streaming and when I look at an Aberdeen result, I feel almost nothing. Just indifference where previously it was everything.
I have never in my life felt remotely like this for the club and I am well into my late thirties. So far into my late thirties to in fact to be in my fifties.
What is wrong with me!? (how long have you got?)
Did I fill my cold dark heart with so much hate, I broke? Did I perhaps overdose a bit on the drug called social media? Was it a combination of decisions at the club, that made me uncomfortable? Was it something else?
It started with the weirdest experience, Aberdeen v ‘Google later’ in Gothenburg the first thing I do a week after lockdown has ended. I live four hours by train from Gothenburg in Copenhagen. Was I going to go? A no brainer normally, but post lockdown anxiety (agoraphobia had really kicked in) has me apprehensive. 10pm the day before the game I make the decision to go for it.
Get a ticket, get to station, find platform, find seat, get on train, change at Malmo, find the platform, find the seat, anxiety through the roof for pretty much every miniscule interaction.
Is this a good idea? Should I have stayed at home?
On the train heading to Gothenburg I see the announcement from the Ullevi, from Simmie and Dave Cormack of a forthcoming statue of Sir Alex. That sounds nice.
Google later’s stadium is out a bit from the centre of Gothenburg, I have however got myself a city centre hotel, which is ‘coincidently’ just past the Ullevi. I need a room as the last train to Copenhagen (wasn’t that a KLF song?) doesn’t fit with the game ending, and I fancy a day in Gothenburg after the game. However any hotel to city centre journey’s will involve a walk past that particular magnificent old lady.
I am walking from the train station to the hotel, Gothenburg is incredibly beautiful, the sun is glinting through the clouds, and for the first time that day, a bit of me is thinking the decision to come ‘might be okay’ after all.
I turn a corner and The Ullevi comes into view. In the words of the late great Leslie Phillips, ‘Ding dong’.
As I approach I just soak up the majesty of this gorgeous piece of architecture with Gothenburg Glory radiating out of her like a beacon of all that is good and holy.
A group of people are coming towards me, in the middle of this throng is someone in an Aberdeen FC tracksuit. My people!
Actually it is Simmie. This must be post the announcement, the ‘media throng’ exiting the Ullevi. No Cormack, presumably whisked away in a limo, or a helicopter or whatever the super rich do. Maybe he needed to take a dump, and was going to catch them up later? Who knows.
I am not wearing a Dons top or anything red, as I am not twelve.
I’m sorry, I do not wish to be mean. I like, love, respect every football supporter and how everyone’s passion is communicated in different ways. As we all wear our loyalty, love whatever differently, and sneering at fellow supporters seems to be the realm of the worst pricks on Twitter. ‘Happy Clapper’. ‘Pants pisher’ insults etc.
But for me, fitba tops just don’t roll with this graphic designer’s personal brand. (hey I never said I wasn’t a prick!) Also red doesn’t work for me. Only black is in my wardrobe. I am nothing if not a cliché.
Whenever I am in Aberdeen, I head to Pittodrie, I have a look around the shop, I judge the merch, I enjoy the experience, the same buzz that as a kid visiting a sports shop is still there. I almost purchase a top, then I remember, I’m not twelve.
So Simmie, and media throng to my left, the Ullevi, to my right. The sun is shining, and not just in the sky. Simmie is deep in conversation, I’m not going to bother the guy, he’s a legend, perhaps this visit has been particularly emotional for him, seeing him is enough. I respectfully, just stop my over impulsive ADHD addled brain from chanting ‘SIMMIE’. Particularly as that might have led to an awful bit of small talk that would have me waking up in a cold sweat every night for ever more. Social skills and basic small talk are not in my skills set.
The feeling of Simmie to my left, the Ullevi stadium to my right is quite incredible, and it reminds me of something. Many years ago I was visiting the Tate in London, and experienced a Damien Hirst statue. (bear with me)
A piece called ‘Mother and Child (Divided)‘ is on display. It is a cow and her calf sliced in two down the middle, preserved in formaldehyde, in four glass cases, you can walk between the two halves of each cow. Not particularly into Hirst’s work, but curious, I walk through the sculpture and to my surprise am incredibly moved. I am not even sure what has touched my emotions, or what they are. Sadness, distress. (I’m a lapsed on off vegetarian) There is also something beautiful, and raw and just unexplainably moving. In art I generally enjoy and admire technique and ideas. This one got me in the feels.
So, walking between Simmie on my left, and the Ullevi on my right…
In direct contrast to the incredibly emotional experience of my Simmie, Ullevi, Hirstesque experience, I watch Aberdeen v ‘Google later’ with ice cold disinterest. Scott Brown, Glass, the mouthy septic tank, the whole, I don’t know what, is just a big nothing. I feel zilch. No connection, no emotion, no interest. Never in my entire life has anything like this happened before. What is wrong with me?
As I wait for my AFC emotional connection to return (like a dodgy broadband connection) I concentrate on illustrations of all things Gothenburg. So still very much connected to the club, but just not the current incarnation. I miss every Glass game bar that game in Gothenburg, and the entire Goodwin era.
Well now I am just boasting.
Ultimately I now realise this broken fitba relationship is doing nothing but punishing myself. I’m an Aberdonian this contract with the club was always for life. I decide I have to start to rebuild the connection. I need to switch the router off and on again.
I’ll start with a blog article. And an illustration.