His question 'Will we ever win again?' strikes a note that's funny but true. I hadn't realised this cheery fact, but we have won two games since 17 June 2012. I'm not sure what our average losing margin has been but there haven't exactly been a lot of close shaves in that time.
These are the weeks and months that it becomes a slog to go to the footy. How does the Bulldog Tragician keep motivated? Research appears to be the key to maintaining that steely optimism!
Firstly, I discover there's a wiki page on how to support an unsuccessful sports team (actually they say 'awful', but I don't want to bring the mood down even further). It's probably a bad sign that some of the tips make sense to me. The first is: EMBRACE THE TRUTH!..basically, stop pretending your team is any good. (See above stat of how many games we've won recently). Check - I think I have that one covered. But hang on, they then go on to advise; 'LOOK BACK ON THE DAYS WHEN YOUR TEAM DOMINATED!' I realise the answer isn't going to be found there.
Secondly, I research other unsuccessful teams, just to assure myself that it could be worse. It turns out:
- The 2003 Detroit Tigers set a record for losing 118 games in a row.
- In 2004 the Red Sox broke one of the most unsuccessful streaks of all time. They'd gone 86 years without a championship. I've now circled the year 2040 as the one to watch.
- Then I read that the Chicago Cubs have gone 105 years without ever winning. Maybe this research isn't such a good idea.
Only the fact that these deranged initiatives proved unsuccessful (the Cubs still haven't won) stops me from initiating a similar Bulldog-themed movement. (Plus, I'm not too sure of the origins of our apparent curse just yet).
And finally, I turn to the writings of Nick Hornby who is probably the best explorer of the agony that is being a fan, in his wonderful book Fever Pitch. He has these wise words: The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.
And there is this memorable exchange between two Arsenal fans, which sums up vividly our collective lunacy and why we all keep coming back for more:
Fan 1: What about last season?
Fan 2: What about it?
Fan 1: They were rubbish. They were fucking rubbish.
Fan 2: They weren't that bad.
Fan 1: They were fucking rubbish last year. And they were fucking rubbish the year before. And I don't care if they are top of the League, they'll be fucking rubbish this year, too. And next year. And the year after that. I'm not joking.
Fan 2: I don't know why you come, Frank. Honest I don't.
Fan 1: Well, you live in hope, don't you?