Hmm, damn sports teams. I've always had a soft spot for the underdogs. When Bangladesh plays Australia in an one-day international, I always hope for an upset - and well, it happens sometimes as Bangladesh have proved. When the Bulls play the North-Free State mielieboere in their royal purple and yellow kits, my heart leaps when Yskas van Tonder or Dif du Plessis makes a break, on the off-chance that the "manne" from Hanover or Hobhouse, semi-professionals who do part-time work as reserviste, can pull one over the mighty Bulle.
It sucks however, when you make a habit out of supporting the underdogs as I have. Well, to be more honest and accurate, I never started supporting the teams because they were underdogs but because of the way they played their game and the passion of their supporters.
Western Province have never been true "underdogs" (except away at Loftus or at home in a semi-final against the Cheetahs) but the fans have never been a lot to bite their lip when things go awry - if Province aren't performing they'll let them know and the next game will be played to a half-empty stadium or less. Nevertheless, Province have always been a team that have tried their hardest to play attacking, running rugby, unlike certain other teams in blue who prefer stomping on their own players, and that alone is enough for me - effort to entertain. Besides this, I also live in the Western Province so I guess I couldn't change even if I wanted to.
Now Newcastle are a similar story. I've never lived on Tyneside and never even had a pint of Old Brown, but these guys have captured my heart from the moment they first started showing the Premiership on South African television. Form the heady, attacking football days under the management of Keegan, then Dalglish through the amorphic days of Gullit, the hope and glamour of Sir Bobby's reign, the abhorrent, better-to-be forgotten days of Souness, and the lacklustre period of soon-to-be-relieved-of-duty Roeder, it's been a rollercoaster ride through the whole spectrum of emotions for Newcastle fans - fans who, arguably are the most passionate football supporters in the world. It's tough supporting this team, with its lack of management clout and mercurial players (think Laurent Robert as a prime example).
Now McLaren. Ron Dennis' Formula 1 boys are similar to both Province and the Magpies in that they can be heart-wrenching to watch at the best of times and, just when I start to ponder my allegiance, along they come with moments of pure agression and racing brilliance from Kimi or Montoya and ponder no more. From Senna's days, they've been the team I've always admired in terms of not resting on their laurels and progressing the sport of F1 - always seeking new and exciting drivers and engineers who have similar aspirations. Things will be no different with the youngest double-world champion ever, Fernando Alonso, who clinched the title at Interlagos last night, joining the perennial underachievers next season. I've loved having Kimi at McLaren, but with him joining Massa at Ferrari next year and with Schumi retiring, I can't help but hope the Finn's bad luck and inconsistency in terms of reliability follow him to the Ferrari's paddock. Farewell Schumi, good luck Kimi and welcome Alonso - may the underdog status be enveloped and evaporated in the stinking vapour of your burning rubber and exhaust fumes.