Globalisation and the rise of the ‘second team’

Globalisation has impacted upon football in a variety of ways from the fall of in importance, and perhaps decline in quality, in international football to the countless YouTube videos showing the best, and only the best, bits of footage of your new Brazilian signing.

Probably the biggest change it has made is the knowledge fans have of other teams courtesy of being able to watch pretty much any league in the world on the Internet and most national newspapers having at least one reporter on each of the major European leagues.

Twenty years ago, Athletic Bilbao rocking up at Old Trafford and putting up such an impressive display would have been met with, if not shock, something of a surprise as knowledge of football abroad among fans and the media isn’t as wide as it is now. Most fans these dats have heard of players like Fernando Lloriente or Javi Martinez or their manager Marcelo Biesla.

A curious knock-on effect of this increase has been a shifting in the dynamic of one’s ‘second team’.

Growing up, influenced hugely by my parent’s generation of football fans, as a supporter of a historically lower-league team, I had a second team in the form of a successful top-tier side who’s result I would look out for and support in matches I saw them in on TV.

However, speaking personally, as I grew up, my interest in this Premier League team faded for two key reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, by this stage my hometown team had reached the Premier League and we had played my ‘second team’ a few times in the league and cup and so it seemed kind of redundant to have an interest in my other club.

Secondly, and kind of continuing on from the first point, despite my true love of a club being subsequently relegated, I did not revive my interest in my second team. This might be something of an example in the increasingly scepticism and dislike of the futility and obscenity of the Premier League among many supporters outside the top flight.

However, there are teams across Europe that I still take an interest in and like to look out for their results every weekend. I have no real links to the teams or the places where they play or anything really meaningful but there are deep-seated reasons why they have a small but important place in my heart.

For example, in Spain, my ‘team’ is Valencia as when Sky began broadcasting Spanish football at the start of the 2000s, their team of Ayala, Gonzalez, Aimar, Lopez, Mendieta et al caught my imagination. This attraction was reinforced by their recent travails with regard the move to the Nou Mestalla and their Groundhog Day inspired summers of selling their best players and just getting on with it and still succeeding in being the best of the rest in La Liga.

In Germany, Borussia Dortmund are the lucky recipient of my on-off affection for the simple reason that they won the first Champions League final that I watched back in 1997 and their distinctive yellow kits (and probably the fact that they won) sealed their place in my heart.

Probably for a similar reason, Juventus are my Italian team as they were Dortmund’s opponents in the final that year but there is another important reason for my interest in them. Regular readers of my postings (all six of you) will know I have an obsession with Championship Manager 97/98 and Juventus were one of my favourite teams in that game. A forward line of Del Piero, Inzaghi, Fonseca, Di Livio and Zidane cemented the Old Lady’s place in my casual interests.

I would never call myself a supporter of these teams as I don’t watch them on a regular basis, take an interest in the politics of the club or anything like that which makes a real fan but there is just something about these teams that links me to them and I find it gives me a richer football experience.

So, what are your foreign ‘second’ teams and why do you follow them?

Daniel Whiteway @Dan_Whiteway

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