Embed from Getty Images

Dan Nichols

With another huge round of the English Premier League underway, highlighted by the Manchester derby, many Aussie based fans are taking to twitter to support their side.

Casual, or non-fans, must wonder how a competition played 17,000 or-so kilometres away could provoke such passion.

Personally, I have spent more nights than I can remember, staying up well past midnight to watch Chelsea chase three points, or cup glory.

It got me thinking though, just how did we come to support a side that plays on the other side of the globe?

It's not likely that, as is the case in local competitions, that you simply support the side closest to your area of residence, or the team your family has supported.

When I put the question regarding the origin of fans support for their side on social media, the responses varied from instances where it was passed down by family members, to the first team selected on the FIFA video game.

Below are some of the best responses, which once again got me thinking, how did I come to feel so strongly in my support for a London based club, almost a day's worth of plane travel away from my residence?




Family support seems to be a running theme in the above responses. If I had followed my mother's team, I would be decked out in red, rather than blue.

She, like the majority if EPL fans at the time, is a fan of the red side of Manchester. One of my brothers followed suit, and counts a Peter Schmeichel inspired goalkeeping jersey as one of his earliest treasures.

Going back twenty years, the only EPL coverage available was on SBS, on delay from memory, although the memories of those days are all over the place.

When Galaxy (which was taken over by Foxtel) started showing EPL fixtures, the majority involved Manchester United.

That, combined with the dazzling feet of Ryan Giggs and the excitement machine that was David Beckham, gave fans little choice in the matter.

As for my support of Chelsea? Well I'm sure there are plenty who will trawl out the old “I bet he started supporting the club a day after Roman took over”, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Two words can sum up my support for Chelsea, and the game of football altogether:

Gianfranco Zola.

The little Italian wizard with the huge smile, to this day, is by far the greatest player I have ever seen.

The likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Zidane are far more decorated players, and their achievements will surpass those of Zola, however in terms of entertainment, no one, Frank Lampard aside, comes close.

Hand on heart, prior to witnessing the brilliance of Zola, I could take or leave the game of football.

Born and raised in the south of Sydney, league was the game I was brought up on, and any other code faced an uphill battle in terms of me becoming a fan.

I can't remember the exact game but I would dare say Zola, and Chelsea, were playing against United, Liverpool or Aston Villa.

Every time the little Italian touched the ball, the crowd would roar, and I'd be left with a smile on my face.

From that point on, I would make sure to catch every Chelsea game I could.

I still remember my dad picking me up from school after a big fixture, and him saying “Wait ‘til you see what your little mate does in this game”.

Whereas now, if dad gave a result away I would be furious, at the time, I wished he would drive faster so I could see Zola play.

Over time I learned the names of the other Chelsea players, and was given a bright yellow away jersey as a birthday or Christmas present.

And yes, I stayed up that night Jesper Grønkjær's off balances shot sealed victory, and the most important Champions League qualification in the club's history.

Fast forward to 2015 and I've seen Chelsea capture four EPL titles, and the most unlikely Champions League win in the history of the competition (among many other trophy wins).

I have one man to thank for that, and he's not a Russian billionaire.

He's the man who played 229 times for the club I have lost more sleep than I can remember in order to support … Gianfranco Zola.

How did you come to support the team you follow? Let us know below