I have lifelong form supporting the underdog

Coco Khan


Driving home from Wembley stadium last month, I had a realisation. I’d been to watch the women’s FA Cup final where my team, West Ham, took a thumping. “You must be very disappointed,” said my friend with tender concern. “I’m fine,” I started, “I’m used to it.” That’s when it hit me: I’ve never watched a football match where my team has won.

In fact, in my adult life I’ve never seen anyone I support triumph – not my sports teams, nor my politicians, nor my chosen contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Disappointment is my default; I am a stranger to reflected glory. I don’t know what it would feel like to have that brief moment of supporter’s euphoria where anything is possible, and all is right with the world.

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Some of it is simply coincidence. I might have only seen losses but would surely catch a victory if I properly followed a team. But the rest is down to me and my curse: I cannot shake my love of the loser. I can only wave my banner for the hero likely to fail. Give me an underdog and I’ll give you devotion. Why? I’m not so sure. A childlike naivety to dream the impossible, or cynical, bitter schadenfreude, to wish to see the mighty fall?

Perhaps I like underdogs because I relate. When I see them race ahead from the back of the pack, I imagine that someday that will be me. Surely the future will bring more victories to add to my 2007 pub quiz win with a team we embarrassingly named Alcoholic Synonymous?

Still, I can’t see myself switching from Team David to Team Goliath anytime soon. So if I remain committed to the little guy, I’ll have to learn to take my wins elsewhere, to find successes in less obvious places. I found out later that the FA Cup match was the most attended women’s game in UK history. I’ll take it.