Sports Editor's blog: Should I inflict my football woes on my newborn?
At any time now, my existence is about to take on a whole new look.
Destiny is about to get a makeover, a re-design way more bizarre than anything the terrifying imaginings of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen could muster: parenthood.
As responsible folks, my wife Jenny and I have filled January with ante-natal classes, selflessly swapping Friday nights that were once spent celebrating liberation from the nine-to-five for studies devoted to the correct colour of newborn baby poo and the alarming science of labour pains.
But dig down just a little and you soon find out exactly where our true priorities lie.
It’s a sad indictment of flawed characters that the most carefully-scrutinised issue regarding said new arrival is over which football club it will follow: the Newcastle United of mum, or dad’s Manchester City.
What name it will be lumbered with throughout life is given cursory attention, but the question of which colours will be nailed to Harby Junior’s footballing mast goes way deeper.
By virtue of Sheikh Mansour’s unexpected arrival, I have the nap hand.
An impressionable youngster tends to plump for the most direct route to happiness and head straight for the success.
They would, of course, have to suffer endless reminders of the past.
‘It wasn’t always like this, you know, you have it easy’ as I remind them for the 249th time about the humiliating 4-1 League Cup hammering I sat through at Lincoln City.
Mrs Harby, on the other hand, has weight of numbers on her side: an entire Toon Army family.
And also a potent weapon which has been threatened several times: the family season tickets for the Gallowgate – St James’ Park’s holiest of holies.
The suggestion that they may have no interest in football or, worse, sport of any kind, seems almost unthinkable, not to mention potentially fatal for our future ability to converse.
Frankly it seems the poor wretch will have little option unless it arrives complete with blinkers and earplugs.
There is, however, a small part of me that hopes it doesn’t get football.
My own father didn’t – being forced to take me to an occasional match was, it turns out, purgatory for him – so it doesn’t automatically follow that it is handed down through some kind of paternal osmosis.
If they are in any way rebellious or awkward, it will shun the whole kit and caboodle in favour of useful and profitable ways of occupying its time and mind.
And there are times when we would not wish football on our worst enemies, let alone a cherished firstborn.
Surrendering control of your own happiness each weekend and hooking it on to the fortunes of a football team is a ridiculous strategy laced with unnecessary risk.
Particularly when you’re handing over your fate to 11 blokes who on most Saturdays perform as if they’ve just met each other for the first time in the stadium car park.
And just imagine a world without football. Where Robbie Savage has no meaning, Alan Green’s pompous whining or Jamie Redknapp’s bland tabloid regurgitations have no echo. And no Sepp Blatter. It has its upsides.
But perhaps football fanaticism serves a very useful early life lesson that pain and pleasure must, unfortunately, co-exist.
And that the highs of the latter can never be truly felt without the lows of the former.
Within two years of following my team, I was well-acquainted with melancholy and dark irony.
City’s relegation, having spent all but the last seven minutes of the entire season outside of the bottom three, saw to that.
Raddy Antic’s late winner and David Pleat’s subsequent deranged jig, complete with hideous suit and odd shoes, scarred my childhood and remain a reminder never to take happiness at face value.
But what about the ultimate curveball: a Manchester United fan? Well, there’s always the shed.