Taking Stock with Rob Stocks - 21/2/2011

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Do you worry when a black cat’s crossed your path? Would you never cross on stairs? Maybe you have to salute a magpie when you see one.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, you understand. Each to their own is what I say.

But I don’t have to give them any credence.

I’ll quite happily lump superstition in there with fairies and conspiracy theories involving US presidents and grassy knolls – friends together in the big box marked ‘nonsense’.

A black cat can cross my path any day, as long as it doesn’t turn out to be a panther, and I refuse point blank to single out magpies for special treatment – it’s not fair on the rest of the birds.

Passing on stairs – well, I don’t see a problem unless the staircase is very narrow, or one of the parties involved is exceptionally wide.

Salt over the shoulder – that’s just making a mess. Touch wood – an opportunity to pick up a nasty splinter.

Some others I can understand a little better.

Not walking under ladders seems pretty sensible, breaking a mirror is costly and potentially dangerous, and opening an umbrella indoors poses severe difficulties when it comes to the width of the average door.

But, overall, I wouldn’t say I’m a superstitious man.

OK, so when I wrap a football scarf around my neck there’s no limit to the number of silly rituals I’ll go through in the belief it’s going to help my team win.

I remember one season when they were top of the table at Christmas and heading for promotion to the promised land.

As a result, my matchday shirt hadn’t been washed since August.

Unfortunately, I let my guard down long enough for Mother Dearest to get hold of the offending article – resulting in a 4-2 defeat.

I swear, to this day, Burnley’s failure to win promotion that year was nothing to do with Kevin Ball’s legs going and everything to do with my mum’s laundry habits.

I’m not the only sufferer in the household.

He of the Bobby Charlton comb-over once wore the same undergarment to every home game for three seasons, believing it to be lucky.

Other fans I know crack up if they can’t get the same parking space, miss listening to their pre-match song, or walk the wrong way to the ground.

We all know it’s rubbish, it doesn’t work. But we do it anyway. Just don’t call it a superstition – there’s no such thing in football.

No, what we fans have, are rituals.

Any similarity between the two is merely coincidental.