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Mon, Aug

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Come what may, I'm backing Jabloteh.

So what if the club has serious money worries due the plight of their main sponsors, CL Financial? Why should I switch allegiance because 2008 TT Pro League "Player of the Year" Trent Noel has jumped ship (and has apparently jumped ship again), or as a result of their very successful head coach, Terry Fenwick, quite correctly withholding his services because he hasn't been paid since the start of the year?
Let me tell you something. It doesn't matter if Jabloteh can afford to hire the cream of the crop or have to make do with a bunch of lowly-paid neophytes. It really is of no consequence, in terms of influencing my loyalty, if they are riding high at the top of the standings or a distant last come the final series of games in what will be another protracted campaign.

As long as they are based in San Juan and carry the San Juan name, they are my team in the Pro League, for apart from my mother having to go to Port of Spain General Hospital to give birth to me, I have lived all my life in San Juan and, despite all these posh, pretentious gated communities popping up all over the place promising "First World" living and greater security, I have no desire to live anywhere else but San Juan.

This has nothing to do with being such an ardent follower that I can tell you everything about every player and recall the details of almost every game played by them last season. In fact, the only game that I have seen them play "live" in three years was the final fixture of the league campaign last December when a dull goalless draw with W Connection at the Ato Boldon Stadium ensured that they retained the title of TT Pro League Champions.

For me, though, this is very, very simple. Jabloteh are from San Juan. I am from San Juan. So I support Jabloteh. Trust me, it isn't rocket science.

It never ceases to amaze when people make comments like: "Doh mind de West Indies play a pile ah $@#% at Lord's, I still backin' dem all de way!" Or how about this perennial favourite whenever things don't go as planned: "I jus' want the Soca Warriors to know, even though dey look like a bunch of coonoomoonoos against the States in Nashville de odder day, we outside here still love dem!"

What the "still" in those two typical statements of alleged support imply is that the supporter making such utterances has the option of withdrawing his or her backing altogether or transferring that allegiance to another team.

So if Chris Gayle's men fare even worse-yes, that is possible even after a ten-wicket defeat-in the second and final Test against England beginning on Thursday up at Chester-le-Street, are some supporters going to turn their backs on West Indies cricket altogether or throw in their lot with another Test nation, at least until the regional side start winning again?

What's going to happen if Costa Rica whip us good and proper when World Cup football qualifying action resumes on June 6 at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet? You going to surrender your Trinidad and Tobago passport and apply for a British one or an American one so that you could say "your" team are going to South Africa 2010?

And then you have the other bunch of conditional supporters. You know, the ones who used to say things like "Man, once Lara make runs, de West Indies could lose every match for all I care!" or still offer this timeless classic: "De day dey done wit' Latapy is de day I done wit' T&T football!"

I mean, really, what kind of doltishness is that? With so many fair-weather supporters floating around, is it really any wonder that our sporting experiences at almost any level are defined by a distinctly vaille-qui-vaille trend?

Of course, loyal, unstinting support can be taken to a fanatical extreme where the same supporters raising the roof in singing your praises one minute can be hurling the most reprehensible insults in your direction the next. Can you imagine an England football fan, after the final whistle to a particularly poor England performance, shouting out to David Beckham that he hoped the midfielder's son died of cancer?

Surely though, there is a lot of room in that middle ground between the Johnny-come-lately bandwagon-jumpers, who are also the first to abandon ship long before the first strains of "Captain, the ship is sinking!" are heard, and the rabid following who perceive even the mildest form of constructive criticism to be worse than cussing your mother.

Maybe the world needs those extremist elements to make things exciting and outrageous, and certainly always newsworthy. However the least the generally silent majority can do is show a little loyalty, even if it isn't manifested in all sorts of flag-waving, face-painting and other attention-seeking antics.

Think about it. Would good parents automatically disown a child who is giving more than a little trouble and then begin adoption proceedings to fill the void? That's why all these variants of conditional support are just so much nonsense and partially explain why people talk so much stupidness on sporting matters.

Anyway, I may not turn up at a game all season, but, as a son of San Juan, it's Jabloteh all the way for me.