Soccer: Is it OK to love another man (in a sporting sense, of course)?

By Stephen George

Man love or man crushes are seen as a common and acceptable practice by male members of the sports loving community.

How do we best define man love or a man crush in the sporting world?

To me, it’s about the ability of a sportsperson to either bring me through the gates week after week or, if they are involved in an overseas competition, ensure that I am sitting on the couch all hours of the night watching them go about their craft.

At this stage of my sports-loving life I can only clearly remember having two serious man crushes: Glenn Archer in the AFL (although the man love still continues in his retirement) and Fernando Torres at Liverpool in the English Premier League.

If I get writing about Archer then one may think (or see) I have an unhealthy passion for this great man and footballer. While he may not be spoken about in the same breath as Carey, Hird or Voss for natural football ability – sorry, I digress…

To my current sporting man crush: Fernando Torres.

Not a lot of world football supporters would have known too much about the player the Atletico Madrid and Spanish supporters call ‘El Nino’ when he was recruited by Liverpool for the 2007-08 EPL season.

That would change quickly after he scored his EPL debut goal on 19 August 2007.

The Scouse supporters quickly adopted the former Atletico striker, who has shown an affiliation with the Liverpool community as Fernando grew up in a similar working city. Further, while playing for Atletico, Torres had, on a few occasions taken to wearing an armband supporting the Liverpool mantra ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

El Nino became an instantaneous hero to the many Scousers hoping for an end to the EPL drought. A chant was penned in appreciation:

“His Armband proved he was a red,
Torres! Torres!
You’ll Never Walk Alone it said,
Torres! Torres!
We bought the lad from sunny Spain,
He gets the ball he scores again,
Fernando Torres!
Liverpool’s number 9!”

So why have I become such an admirer of this individual?

First and foremost, it is his natural football ability. He is one of the most complete strikers in world football. Pace, agility, skill and football instinct.

Fernando is only 25 years of age. He started playing in what many consider to be the physically toughest competition in world football at 23. Many keen observers felt that the ‘…lad from sunny Spain’ would struggle in the EPL given the physical nature of the league. After all, so many mainland European footballers had failed the test previously.

In his first year he set a new record for EPL goals in a rookie season and became the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler (nicknamed ‘God’) in 1995-96 to score more than 20 goals in a season.

Whilst the last 19 years have been barren on the EPL title front for Liverpool supporters, the club has over its history produced some of the greatest strikers in English football. Names such as Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, John Toshack, Ian St John and Roger Hunt.

Supporters have marveled at the deeds and achievements of these players.

On 29 December 2009, Fernando Torres became the quickest Liverpool player in the club’s rich 117-year history to score 50 league goals. This achievement came about in only his 72nd EPL game.

Given my age, I can clearly remember the achievements of Owen and Fowler, and I’ve been intoxicated with the feats of the others via various media. Rush, Dalglish, Keegan, Toshack, St John and Hunt are champions of the club and played in eras where success at Liverpool came along more readily than the present day.

To think that (at some stages, a half-fit) El Nino has achieved this milestone quicker than any of those great strikers makes his achievement even more memorable.

Man love or crushes: are they acceptable?

I will always argue strongly in the affirmative. And as long as my wife of 17 years continues to support these passions of mine by purchasing or allowing me to purchase sporting memorabilia then I will continue to indulge in any current, previous and future sports man crushes.

Archer and Torres are only two striking (pardon the pun) examples for me.

No matter what club or sport we follow I am confident that there are sportspersons who stir up similar emotions within us sports loving individuals.

I look forward to many more years of following the greats of many sports, and I hope fellow sports lovers continue to enjoy fellow sports (and sportspeople) as well!

About Stephen George

I am an avid sports fan who admires anyone who can play or participate in sport at pretty much any level. My favourite sports are AFL, soccer, Major League Baseball, Rugby League and NFL. I have recently finished my Diploma in Sports Journalism and I am interested in improving my skills by contributing to the Footy Almanac

Comments

  1. I’ve had a few man crushes – Gary Ablett snr, Gary Ablett jnr, Carl Lewis, Warren Edmonson, Viv Richards and Tony Soprano.

  2. Andrew Starkie says:

    Can’t say I’m a man crush type of guy – I’m from Warrnambool you see – but, if I was… Arch would be a natural choice. Or Blighty, Schimma, Greigy… that’s enough

  3. pauldaffey says:

    Dips,

    Is it audacious bracketing Carl Lewis and Warren Edmonson together? One won at several Olympics and one won at Stawell (from 1.25 metres, from memory).

    OK, leave Lewis in there. I quite liked him myself. The cover from a 1983 Sports Illustrated with Lewis in action at the first World Championships, in Helsinki, was on my wall for a long time.

  4. Daff – just like real love, sometimes there is no logical explanation.

  5. ………Marvin Hagler, Max Rooke, Steve Waugh, Wayne Closter (I was very young at the time), and the thought of Les Darcy (alas we didn’t see his best).

  6. Stephen George says:

    Andrew, I was born in Warrnambool but I am still happy to admit to a couple of man crushes – I am sure there will be a few more before my sports watching is done.

    Steven Gerrard came close but beating up some poor innocent DJ who wouldn’t play Phil Collins knocked him off the pedestal.

    I nearly fell for ‘Gilly’ but Arch was taking up all the man love I could muster at that time!

  7. Richard Naco says:

    Liam Brady, then Larry Bird, then Martina Navratilova, and these days: Max Rooke and Mark thompson.

    But if any of them were to offer me anything remotely horizontal, the happy little hetero that defines my inner core would kick in immediately (just before my wife would start kicking, period).

  8. Richard Naco says:

    Liam Brady, then Larry Bird, then Martina Navratilova, and these days: Max Rooke and Mark Thompson.

    But if any of them were to offer me anything remotely horizontal, the happy little hetero that defines my inner core would kick in immediately (just before my wife would start kicking, period).

  9. Martina Navratilova – they can put a man on the moon………….

  10. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    FOOTY: Phil Carman, Billy Picken, Stan Magro, Mike Richardson(believe it or not), Doug Barwick, Alan Didak.

    CRICKET: Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell, Sir Viv, Clive Lloyd, Ian Botham, Wasim Akram.

    TENNIS: Guillermo Vilas, Phil Dent, Gene Mayer, Miroslav Mercir, Goran Ivanisavic, Rafael Nadal.

    SOCCER: Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalgliesh, Alan Shearer, David Ginola, Faustino Asprilla, Obafemi Martins.

    Flair,fancy,flawed,fiery,fearless and fair. That’s how I love my boys to be.

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