Ahh, the joys of parenthood. Once you are through all the sleepless nights, whiffy nappies and gotten used to the loss of social life, there remains a couple of important issues to resolve.
Forget the "pretend the kids live at your mother-in-laws to get in to the preferred school" routine.
Nope, the issues that really need to be sorted are those of passing on the torch of football team and music. Now, generally speaking, we are old, therefore uncool. We are on a hiding to nothing trying to get the little blighters to appreciate the remixed audiophile version of Pearl Jam's "Ten" and accompanying replica demo cassette tape.
We also, with the benefit of 20 years hindsight, secretly struggle to promote the whole Seattle scene of the early 90s to their impressionable minds, when most of the protagonists of the said scene were desperate junkies with suicidal tendencies and a penchant for not going near a bath. It therefore leaves us with one true heirloom. The most important gift we can bestow upon those that follow us...the football team.
In my formative years, I lived around 5 miles from the city centre of Manchester. I was to be either red or blue - which one would come down to genes. My father and older sister (a Stretford-Ender in division 2 days) were Reds - therefore, as is natural, I had no choice. It was my birthright.
My first-born was a daughter, now a teenager. She had an impeccable football upbringing, I thought. Born in the early part of the fabled "treble season", she even enjoyed a trip to Old Trafford inside her then heavily pregnant mother's belly as we queued for tickets for the Barcelona home game that were going on open sale.
(how or why she queued for so long with me, I will never know - what a gent I was for asking her to do so! and how amusing when after 3 hours, the steward at the head of the queue saw her and remarked that we could have gone straight to the front!).
The away games were spent with her on my lap in front of the TV, running through the players names, teaching her the songs with all the swearing removed. Trips to open training sessions (where she fell asleep each time) also occurred. This continued for some time until, season ticket secured, I managed to used my Dad's spare ticket to take her to a match. She sat and ate her way through a bag of what I still like to call opal fruits, marvelled at the crowd, joined in with the songs and never asked to go again. (She does, however, display a healthy liking of loud guitar music, which is a good thing, even if I am a little disturbed by the new breed and their dodgy haircuts - even Kerrang! gives out shockwaves gel products as a gift when subscribing!!).
Then the glazers came along for United. And a son for me.
I took the militant decision of not handing money over to pay for uncle malc to buy the club. I thought many more might follow suit, but I realise now, it was just too hard to do. The fact I was skint and had two young kids and little time also had a big part to play in the decision, it must be said.
But what to do now? We moved to the edge of civilisation as we knew it (the outer reaches of Greater Manchester, in the hills beyond Rochdale and dangerously close to the Yorkshire border. The young man is 6 years old, with a wavering interest in football. I rescued him from the clutches of the blues (friends at school) a couple of years ago by singing him a few ditties. "They have songs, Dad?" - suitably cleaned up versions, naturally - "why don't city just go home?" - however, with the challenge for his attentions coming from Star Wars, things are going to be difficult.
He did become desperate for a football kit, after seeing so many friends swanning round the football parties, so eventually, I relented - despite my inner moral protestations. I bought him one for his 5th birthday. His FC United one just didn't cut the mustard with the other kids. But the 30 quid spent did at least cement a connection for him with the club.
It is only now that I realise I have created myself a dilemma of monolithic proportions. I follow United now and not support them - not in the truest sense, as a match-going fan. How can I bestow this gift on to the lad? Will he never have the excitement of walking up the stairs at Old Trafford to see the pitch sliding slowly in to view? Never be swept up in the tunnel under the stands, singing songs, nor listen to the roar as the teams come out?
Try a more local club, I hear people say. I now live further out - support a lower league club in need, pass on the torch that way.
I recently read a post and commented on the excellent www.girlonaterrace.com where there was a poll to see if people had "second teams" that they support.
I don't. United are my team. I can't have a second team. As Leo's FC United shirt didn't fit right, neither did FC United the club fit for me. It just wasn't United. I applaud what they have done and have a passing interest in results, but...
I could take him along to Spotland to watch Rochdale. It is local, the club have good links with his school, we would probably have a great time. They may become his team in time, but they still won't be mine. Where is the shared history, the old stories?
what have I done?.......