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Not always a badge of honour

To understand the extent of football rivalry and team loyalties in England, you just need to wear the badge of one and roam into the other’s territory.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2011 23:48 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal

To understand the extent of football rivalry and team loyalties in England, you just need to wear the badge of one and roam into the other’s territory.

For me it started when I went to a sports shop at Birmingham and picked up a jacket. For me, it had to be good to beat the cold. But once I walked out wearing it, I noticed the attention it was drawing. It soon became apparent why — the badge on the top left of the jacket read: AVFC — with the Aston Villa Football Club logo, the local club in Birmingham.

However, outside of Birmingham, it has started a nightmare. Everytime I walk out in it, I have become a target of unrelenting jibes football fans from rival clubs. Fans stop me and want to engage in banter.

And I am at the receiving end over a team that I don’t even support. I like the way Arsene Wenger makes Arsenal play.

Even before I finish introducing myself, people’s eyes are on the badge. At an ICC press meet, the first thing communications head, Colin Gibson, let me know was that he was a Manchester United fan.

Call it bad timing, my entry into the Grace Road Stadium in Leicestershire coincided with the end of Leicester City's home game, and all eyes in the passing cars were fixed on my badge.

Luckily, Villa were not the team they had played. Imagine my fate if it was Villa who had beaten City, and I had got caught among drunken fans with my fancy jacket on!