Watching Bristol City vs England: Which is Better?

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Bristol City fan and podcaster Stanley Hughes ponders which has given him more joy in recent years: following Bristol City or England?

Bristol City football fans outside the stadium.

It’s a tough one isn’t it, the club vs country debate. For a long time watching England was a chore for many. Uninteresting football, disappointing results and a team of players seemingly unable to gel. Let’s be honest here, Bristol City hasn’t always been that different. When you think of the size of our City, have Bristol City unachieved in a manner similar to England?

At least my club has won more trophies, I don’t see Harry Kane lifting the JPT anytime soon. City fans really shouldn’t take for granted the fact we’ve won some silverware, let’s never forget the league and cup double in 2014/15. Do people realise what a rare achievement that is for a club, let alone one outside of the Premier League?

I’ll never forget that season, the sheer ease of it all. Constantly demolishing teams, knowing you were going to win. Wondering how many you’ll score today, which players will get on the scoresheet. Watching City lift those trophies was magical, a feeling worth savouring forever.

I saw thousands of Bristolians line the street to celebrate the campaign. All packing into Lloyd’s Amphitheatre to hang on each word from the players and manager. We were in love with that team.

England Obsession was Inevitable

I’ve always been in love with the England team too, it was tough not to be at my age. The “golden generation” was the stuff of folklore in the school playground. Volley a water bottle? “Gerrard!”, go in for a crunching tackle? “Scholes!”, sport a new hair cut? “It’s a Beckham!” Even I had the mohawk at one point, not a good look…

I was fortunate enough to go to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and see some of those legends. Despite the woeful performances on the pitch, it instilled a passion for the national side. I was even fortunate enough to represent the England fan’s team. We toured the country playing friendly matches. I ended up top scorer, with two goals… We played against some local teams, one being a side of reformed drug abusers, managed by Martin Allen, and another a team of inmates in a maximum security prison. I’m not even joking. I was playing alongside Millwall fans, Swindon fans and a Rovers fan. The Gashead even set me up for one of my goals!

Does Going to the Games Make All the Difference?

If you follow a team in the flesh, it’s almost inevitable you’ll become invested in their success. Many of the responses to my question on Twitter are from people who watch City every week but have never watched England. Only natural that they’ll pick the former then. For those who travel with England it seems they have as much passion for it, if not more than for City.

It’s not that surprising that a trip across the world to watch your country play does wonders for your passion. Not everyone is as fortunate, not everyone can afford it. For many, watching England on TV is as close as they will get to the action. For a long time that was more than enough disappointment. Imagine travelling across the world to see some of those tournament performances in the last 25 years…

Recent Memories Favour England

Since 2018 though, I’d say England have brought me far greater memories than Bristol City. I agree with Micky’s tweet above: the EURO 2021 campaign would rival any Bristol City season I’ve experienced, despite it all being watched on TV. The nervousness of that Germany game is unparalleled, the emotions ran higher than any Bristol City game I’ve been to.

It’s clear that the majority of OSIB podcast listeners would choose club over country in a heartbeat. For me, right now I’m more in love with this England team than the Bristol City squad. Gone are the egos of the past, gone is the pressure, here is a national team that couldn’t be more united.

I love Bristol City, but right now I have to admit that my love for the team isn’t at that same level as it is with England. On the other hand, I can only see that love growing whilst Pearson is in charge. The team will definitely get easier to fall in love with again. Right now though, if there’s one team bringing me more joy then that’s England.

Stanley Hughes is the host of the popular ‘One Stream In Bristol’, the original fan-produced Bristol City FC podcast. Stanley shares his thoughts on The Robins every week exclusively with MansionBet.

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