How I Became A Fan Of……The Dallas Cowboys.

 

I think it was my seventh, maybe eighth, birthday that I was presented with a Sega Megadrive, accompanied with an EA Hockey/John Madden Football double-header cartridge. I excelled at the hockey, since the rules were fairly obvious, but Madden confused my youthful mind. I persevered, consulted Encarta, borrowed a book from the library, and the mist began to lift. I understood why I couldn’t run into the opposition before the snap, why I kept losing the ball after only trying to score four times, and why I couldn’t keep trying to get up and run after being tackled. Becoming gradually less baffled, I started to take a real interest in the sport.

 
Luckily, at the time, terrestrial television in the UK was well-equipped to deal with such interest. My first experiences came, like many my age, at the hands of Gary Imlach early on a Sunday morning, after Trans World Sport and before Saved By The Bell. Imlach’s voice, to this day, is imprinted in my mind. He would stand next to a famous landmark of sorts, unashamedly quipping jokes and anecdotes I didn’t understand at the time and probably still wouldn’t now, before introducing highlights of the previous weeks games. I was engrossed in the same way that anyone other member of this early-1990s cult was, young or old. Colour, drama, excitement, glitz, glamour…for a young boy, the sport had it all. The WWE to rugby’s Olympic judo. The Harlem Globetrotters to mixed netball. I was hooked.

 
Having supported a football side for as long as I could remember, the next natural step was to pick a team. My family cared deeply for football, therefore my football team was strictly based around locality. No glory-hunting would be acceptable. The NFL provided me a chance to be a little more creative with my pick. A small television in my room meant that, if I kept the sound down low enough, I could stay up until the early hours to watch the Superbowl in 1994…

 
Despite my avid watching of the highlights packages, my complete ignorance of the way the playoff system worked (what WERE playoffs?!) meant that I only really discovered who was going to be in the Superbowl a week previously. The Dallas Cowboys would play the Buffalo Bills for the second year running, after trouncing them the previous year. Being seemingly incapable to be impartial whilst watching any form of sport, I needed to pick a team to support. I decided on the Cowboys for a number of reasons:

 
1) They had won the previous year. If they did it a year ago, they would probably do it again.

2) They played in silver and blue. You could only dream of a ‘soccer’ team to play in silver and blue.

3) Their logo was a star. The Bills logo looked like a speared chicken.

4) They were called the Cowboys for crying out loud. The Bills? I couldn’t identify. I wasn’t called Bill. Who is Bill?!

 
My allegiances defined, I pinned my eyes open and consumed the entire event. I was wowed, to say the least. The Cowboys went in at half-time 13-6 down, without so much as a touchdown to their name. Up stepped a large running-back by the name of Emmitt Smith, the MVP of the game, to aid the Cowboys to 24 unanswered points in the second half to win their fourth Superbowl. My love affair was set in stone. Troy Aikman became my hero. If I threw my new Dallas mini-football in the playground, I was Troy. If I was the one catching, I’d be Michael Irvin. If I knocked my friends over, I was Emmitt Smith. This trio became three of the biggest sporting heroes of my youth, and to this day, remain my favourite Cowboys players of all time.

 
My support for the Cowboys continues to this day. It is even more necessary now, during probably the darkest time any Cowboys fan has seen in a long, long time. Dallas are unpopular because of their attitude to being ‘America’s Team’, due to the harking back to days when they used to win everything as opposed to focusing on the present, and probably due to a certain Jerry Jones. But such is part of the beauty of being a British NFL fan. Not living in America enables you to view the landscape of the NFL with a little more perspective. I proud that I support a team for a reason, but I can keep the objective required to enjoy the game for what it is, without being blinded by bias. Hopefully, after the exit of Wade Phillips, I can enjoy the games we play in a little more too…

 
David Dickson.

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