Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen

It was football season 2011. I still have the ticket stub for no reason, back when they gave you paper tickets. It was going to be a game in San Francisco, indeed, the famous Candlestick Park. I had already attended an American baseball game — I believe it was the Oakland A’s that was — a lot of hot dogs and green shirts, if I remember correctly. My friend was on a mission to get me educated in the sports of my adopted country.

She came to pick me up and I noted immediately how she was dressed in entirely red. That must take some doing, I remember thinking to just myself. I had put on a blue T-shirt, for no particular reason other than it was clean.
“Oh no,” she gasped. “You can’t wear that!” Now, of course, I know — duh — that one must sport the colors of one’s team without there being a shadow of a doubt in the matter. There was likely some juggling went on that day to ensure that I did not attend my first 49er game in a blue shirt. (Worse still we were playing the NY Giants whose team color is that same shade of blue!)

I do remember being quite flabbergasted by the experience. This enormous stadium full of cheering, happy people. Music, noise, food … oh and football! As a nipper, I had maybe caught a game of rugby in my home country, but not for long and I certainly never bothered to learn the rules. These chaps before me were like Roman gladiators, ready for battle. Oh my goodness, all that heavyweight bulk in their well-pronounced leggings! (Married, not dead!)

Of course, I didn’t have a clue what was going on, except for a lot of moving forward, moving back and banging into each other, with the occasional big kick and then laughter and hugs when they reached the end of the field. I knew nothing, except that I liked it. A lot. From there I was onto this football thing. I began to understand the passion and the fervor that pervaded the country.

I watched the movie “The Blind Side” and thought I needed to try and figure out the rules. It’s all very well to enjoy the eye candy of handsome young men, bashing into each other and running all over the place with their muscles bulging, but what was really going on and how were they scoring? (I knew the end of the field was an important place, duh!) The ruckus when people would arrive there was something to behold. I purchased my first red and gold T-shirt shortly after I purchased a yellow book called “Football for Dummies”… gosh this big game was more complex than I imagined. All these positions and plays and numbers and way more downs than ups (?).

My son used to play football for the Watsonville Wildcatz in high school, and I was always too busy chasing a toddler over the bleachers to notice much about the game, other than it was always bleeding cold out there and those metal benches are not very comfortable to sit on. But the passion was still there even though the pomp and circumstance were considerably less. I latched onto his knowledge of the game, and, as my Super Fandom grew, we would sometimes go to the games together. “What’s that, what’s going on, what the heck???” I’m sure I was really annoying for a very long time until things started to sink in and, by constant effusion, I became a bit of a fan.

From one red jersey to another, to a jacket, to a really beautiful custom-embroidered Letterman jacket I found in Goodwill. Socks, fuzzy sweaters, more game shirts (gotta boast the name of your fave player of the season). It made it really easy for people to buy things for me for Christmas and birthdays. I have key rings, magnets, cups, glasses, number plate holders, hats (multiple), dog leashes and collars, slicks — you name it. If you looked at my wardrobe you would say that I have come a very long way from my blue shirt at Candlestick of yesteryear and that I was now a bit of an obsessive super fan.

I am incredibly lucky that my friend is very generous with her season tickets, and I have seen some incredible — and some less than — games over the years. But rain, or shine, literally, you must support your team through the good times and the bad; and I do.

This past weekend I was so fortunate to be able to attend the playoff game against the Packers. Rain was forecast at about 120% likelihood, so went headed north armed with that most vital of gameday rain wear — the extra-large, thick black garbage bag that we had also boasted the brilliance to take along to last year’s playoff.

Oh my goodness, those poor young chaps were slipping and sliding all over heck in the consistent rain. When you are used to practicing in California, any kind of inclement weather can really send you off balance as a team, and it did. We had quite the roller coaster of a game, all nice and snuggy in our black plastic, and I was very afraid for the final result. But, deserving or not, we came out with the W, as they say, and got to move on to the next round by the skin of our teeth. And that is one of the marvels of the game. Just when you think it’s over, it ain’t. I love that. Yet another thing I love about football!

“You are a bit of a Super Fan, aren’t you!” My son’s oldest friend commented one day when we were out there in lousy weather. In a stadium of 68,500, he just happens to have season tickets the row in front of my friend’s, so I see him quite a lot. “I suppose I am!” I responded proudly, stroking the arm of my lovely Letterman jacket. But this is not a class of one, there are thousands of die-hard Super Fans out there. Just walk through the parking lots full of 49er tail-gaters and be amazed by the passion, the red and gold that runs through their blood. I get it, I totally do, and we all go into mourning when the season is over — us Super Fans — and we have to find other passions to support, other places to go until the warmup for the next season when the fires get lit all over again.

I’ve come a long way since my first game in my blue shirt at Candlestick. People even ask me about my team on occasion — and us Super Fans must read everything we can about our team, stay ahead of the melee. I’m often amazed at just how much I do know, this lil English girl in her red and gold, acting like she’s been a fan all her life.

Previous articleSalinas Valley News Briefs | Jan. 26, 2024
Next articleMonterey County looks to eliminate prior cultivation requirement for outdoor cannabis growers
Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here