Jack Averty: Show team spirit and celebrate the champions on home turf
Amongst all unimportant subjects, football is by far the most important.”
This is what former pope St. John Paul II proclaimed about the beautiful game – and you would be hard pressed to find a better description.
Football isn’t vital, but yet on the other hand, to so many of us, it really is.
Sure your missus might moan about you being a grumpy sod when you go on your anniversary meal, but she clearly doesn’t know your beloved team lost 1-0 thanks to a dodgy penalty in the 90th minute.
See our mood hinges on how our football team performed. A win sends us into euphoria, a loss into a spiral of depression.
These mood swings couldn’t be more prevalent when it comes to local derbies, the backbone of British football.
And if you love a local derby then what better place to live than the West Midlands? The home of the gritty, win at all costs, derbies.
The best thing about derby wins is that not only do they give you that unshakeable smile on your face, they also give you bragging rights over your mates and office colleagues.
As an Arsenal fan there is nothing better than seeing the Spurs-supporting director sulking on a Monday morning after a North London Derby defeat – and I am sure he takes just as much pleasure the other way round.
Footballing rivalries also pit people against each other who would normally be on the same side.
There’s always someone you know who supports your arch rivals on the pitch, and in most circumstances we are proud to call them a friend.
And here in the Midlands our footballing nemeses are normally our closest allies when it comes to defending the region from all the stereotypical negative rubbish it gets on a daily basis.
With Wolves set for promotion tomorrow, and if not tomorrow then almost certainly in the coming weeks, it presents a good opportunity to look above the red mist of football rivalries and look at the bigger picture – the future of our region.
It’s no secret to say that the West Midlands regularly attracts negative headlines. If it isn’t in the news for its violent crime and gang warfare then the extent of its deprivation is making the front page.
But we know this isn’t a true – or a fair – reflection of the place we are proud to call home.
The West Midlands is incredibly diverse, boasts some of the top manufacturers in the world and is steeped in a rich history.
And I think we can all agree that the Black Country accent is the best in the world – yes babs.
Given this, shouldn’t we all be pulling together and supporting a cause that shines our region in the best possible light?
Because, however much you say you hate them, that’s exactly what Wolves’ success is doing.
The higher Wolves soar, the more the spotlight shines on the West Midlands – and for once not in a negative way.
People, in taking interest in the club, will be taking an interest in the region.
As they learn more about Wolves and their history they will discover all about the Black Country and discover there is far more to us than a bunch of folks who talk funny.
Let Jorge Mendes and the question of his involvement in transfer dealings soak up the bad press while the brilliant diversity and tapestry of the region can finally get the good headlines it deserves.
Even the football hating girlfriends should grit their teeth and get cheering – this isn’t just players on a pitch, it’s about championing the place you live in and love.
This year its Wolves flying high, next year it could be Albion, Villa, Blues or, by some miracle, Walsall.
We should be clubbing together and thinking of the region’s best interests rather than wishing to see one of the clubs relegated as far down as possible because you support a rival team down the road.
There would be nothing better for the West Midlands than if all the major teams could command a spot in the Premier League.
Sure when the derbies roll around then the vitriolic hatred can restart, but in-between these games would it really hurt that much to hope that our teams can do well, so long as it’s not at your team’s expense?
So yes, you should be hoping Wolves win the Championship from here, regardless of who you support, but you should also be hoping that Albion somehow pull off a bigger miracle than Nicolas Cage making a good film and stay in the Premier League.
You also need to start rooting for Villa to maintain their play-off spot and secure a promotion to the country’s top league, and for Blues and Walsall to stave off relegation and make promotion charges next season.
No-one is asking for Villa lovers to turn into die-hard Baggies fans, or for Walsall fans to start marching up Queen Street chanting Wolves ay we.
But lets not forget the togetherness that makes where we live, the heartbeat of the country, the best place in the world.
Black Country ay we.