My first football memory is my dad holding me by the armpits and swinging my feet at a football… I've no idea how old I was, but I do know that – without my permission - he'd stuck me in a blue and white shirt that I knew nothing about.
I didn't *choose* to support Sheffield Wednesday. Sheffield Wednesday were thrust upon me from a young age because my dad was a Wednesdayite, and his dad was a Wednesdayite, and so on and so forth. I went to Hillsborough for the first time as a six-year-old, and fell in love with the club and the game because of it.
At no point during the first decade of my life as a football lover did I think, "You know what, I might be a journalist one day. I'd better not support a team just in case…"
I find there's always a big hoo-hah about journalists – print, radio, whatever – and the teams supporters think/know they support. My questions is this: if the journalist is objective, then who cares?
We – myself and those in my industry – all grew up with a favourite team. The chances are we got involved in this industry because of our love for that team, so why must we stop supporting them as we become adults?
Don't get me wrong; if a journalist is clearly biased in what they write or the way they write, then, obviously, that is wrong. However, if they remain objective despite their "allegiance" to a specific club, then I don't see any problem.
I'm quite lucky because, for me, I can genuinely remain completely objective in South Africa. The first 20 years of my life were spent in England and – despite what many may think – I don't support a team in the Absa Premiership. Chiefs fans think I'm a Buccaneer, Pirates fans think I'm Amakhosi, etc. but the fact is I don't have any preference as to who wins what in SA – other than Bafana Bafana, of course. I have one club, and they're currently battling it out in the English second division.
I actually take it as a compliment, because if people argue about who I support, then it means I'm giving enough ammo to everyone for them all to shoot accusations at me.
I know passionate Mamelodi Sundowns fans – no names, of course – who aren't afraid to criticise Masandawana publicly or praise Chiefs/Pirates. Objectivity is the name of the game in this industry, and as long as that is present as we portray our differing opinions to the public, then it should not matter who we do or don't support.
We're football fans, too. We would not be doing what we do if we weren't.