英文

Half the World Away:Trip to Stamford Bridge

【明報專訊】One thing not many people might like to admit is how much we are shaped by our parents. Those trying to escape from the shadows of their old folks and carve a place for themselves in this world have a natural urge to play down or deny the all-encompassing influence of genes. Still, we are moulded by their words, deeds and the things we did together, despite their seemingly infinitesimal impact on our upbringing.

That was my thought when I was finally at Stamford Bridge, the home stadium of the football team that I have supported since secondary school, holding the hand of my eight-year-old son. As soon as we were out of Fulham Broadway station, we knew exactly which way to go: the unmistakable blue flags, each bearing the portrait of a member of the current squad, lined the street to our left. At Britannia Gate, we were greeted by the gigantic words in caps: ''HOME OF THE CHAMPIONS'', reminding fans of the Blues' glory against Manchester City last May. We walked further up until we were at Stamford Gate, which I immediately recognised as the very location of a YouTube video I had recently watched, the one of Édouard Mendy walking down the street to the cheer of fans.

Then my mind raced back to the very summer when my passion for this game took root. It was the year of 1994, when Italy lost to Brazil after Roberto Baggio whacked his spot kick above the bar. It was a game that I watched together with my father, and it is forever imprinted on my memory. I also thought back to the opening chapter of Fever Pitch, British writer Nick Hornby's memoir of his fascination with the sport. After the separation of his parents, his father, a taciturn figure struggling to strike up a conversation with his son, offered to take him to Highbury, the then stadium of Arsenal. Hence he fell in love with football ''suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it'' as he was later to ''fall in love with women''.

I have not the slightest intention to spark my son's love of the game, let alone insist on him being a Chelsea fan. But perhaps it is now beyond my control after that trip to Chelsea's home. ''The damage had been done,'' says Nick Hornby.

■Writer's Profile

Terence Yip (葉凱楓) is a Hongkonger living outside Hong Kong. A translator by profession, he is passionate about languages more than anything else, and can be reached by terenceyipmingpao@outlook.com

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