Cries of "Chelsea" at me have puzzled my mind on occasion and I only realised what was going on when my girlfriend used her common sense - "they are trying to goad you because you are apparently a West Ham fan.
Other incidents of a similar type:
1. Natural History Museum, March 2009 - are you an Aston Villa fan? This man was actually a Burnley fan.
2. Old fella waiting at a bus stop - "Chelsea". Who knows who he supported but he was bitter and didn't like West Ham. I'm sure I heard him call me a c***.
3. Mechanic when collecting our car for repair - Are you a West Ham fan? Bolton fan.
"No, I am a Burnley fan".
"Oh I'm glad Burnley got promoted, I'm sure you're looking forward to it yes?"
Wednesday morning/afternoon I was at a mass interviewing exercise at Old Trafford Football Ground. Hundreds there. You take a test. They tell you if you have passed or failed. You then go to the interview. You are asked four set questions of which you must come up with four examples. "Be more specific", "Be more specific", "Be more specific", "Be more specific", "Be more specific", "Be more specific", "Be more specific", "Be more specific". And so on.
I doubt I did too well.
I couldn't elaborate on my character, my circumstances, the fact that I support Burnley and that by some strange twist of fate I am at Old Trafford. None of it mattered - just the four examples. I suppose there is no other way of mass interviewing, but something didn't feel quite right. It is all a little impersonal and there was no room for discussion. I'm sure the majority didn't want to be there, but they want to work and this is their opportunity.
The saving grace is the joking between tests and interviews. I was in a group that talked about where we all lived, what our previous jobs were and so on. I mention the fact that I support Burnley and we play Man Utd tonight. Some laugh at the strange fate of being at Old Trafford and the game's in Burnley tonight. Some hate me because I talked about FOOTBALL. You can just tell. My heart skipped a little thinking of the evening's game.
They take my five items of identification and I leave the ground and migrate to The Lowry Shopping Mall. I get my clothes for the evening out of the boot of the car, head off to the loo and get changed into my Burnley shirt and jeans. I then went to Costa to get a coffee. A young man started clapping, he was in Sky Blue. He shook my hand and said good luck for tonight. I told him I had a reluctance to talk to a Coventry fan because they prevented us from getting in the playoffs in 2002. He said he was a Manchester City fan.
After a bit of lunch I headed off to the L.S. Lowry art gallery. I saw paintings depicting massed hordes of factory workers heading off to work, off to the match, off to somewhere. I thought about the hordes in 1930 and the equivalent football crowds now. Solidarity, passion for our cause, belief in a dream, in the promised land. It stirs something in me. I felt part of the mass hordes in the painting.
I walked to the shop and looked at prints to perhaps buy. An old lady comes up to me and says:
"What club do you support?" (Pointing at my shirt.)"I'm a Burnley fan"
"Ah Burnley, my friend supported Burnley - she died recently. She was mad though. Lived in Yorkshire and supported Burnley. I don't think she really knew what she was doing."
I said that I would never have supported Leeds and left it at that. She laughed and wished Burnley well for the future.
I didn't really have the money for the one I wanted, so I headed outside onto the Quays to read. I was killing time while my girlfriend finished work at 5.30pm and we could set off for the match. I was just about to sit down and another man stopped me. He had his wife and kids with him.
"You're a Burnley fan aren't you?"
"What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be in Burnley for the match?"
"I was at an interview at Old Trafford"
"You shouldn't be out here should you?" (He feared I was going to be attacked by United fan) .
I said that I was waiting for my girlfriend to finish work and for us to go and escape via helicopter. He laughed and hurried on. I don't think he believed that I had an actual helicopter. He was right because I don't.
We have just beaten Manchester United by 1 goal to nil. I hug my dad and girlfriend at the final whistle. I look behind me and a guy shakes his head at me - we can't believe what we have just witnessed.
I didn't get to sleep until very late.
I woke up on Thursday morning and thought: "I'm a Burnley fan".