Cambridge United secured automatic promotion to League One by just one point, ending a 19-year wait to return to England’s third tier.
Former Ireland international Wes Hoolahan inspired United to second place in League Two, entrenching his cult-hero status to another set of adoring fans.
Max Rushden, who presents the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast as well as The Warm Up on talkSPORT, came to fame whilst presenting Soccer AM for seven years.
Born in Cambridge, Rushden has fallen back in love with his home town team during their promotion run.
Speaking on OTBAM on Tuesday, Rushden said the pandemic allowed him to regain a connection to his local team as the EFL streamed their games online.
“Because of the pandemic, I’ve seen more games than I have in the last 10-15 years. So, I’m a bit of a plastic, glory-hunter Cambridge United supporter.
“Obviously, we want people to go back to games, and that’s the way clubs will make money, but I think there are lots of lower league fans around the world or around the country who don’t really live near where their team play.”
Although Rushden operates within the world of elite football coverage in his professional life, he said his support of Cambridge United gives him a more authentic and joyous football experience.
“I really don’t envy fans of really big sides. Yeah, they get to go to European Cup finals etcetera, and something that Cambridge will never do, but if your expectations are so high, then actually, I think you get less pleasure from it.
“I don’t ever expect to win a game, so every time we win, even though we were on this great run and we got promoted, I didn’t expect any of it. It was just a relentless surprise.
“I’m very happy that I support a rubbish football team. It leads to a happier football existence.”
In the aftermath of the European Super League fiasco, the owners of clubs in England have undergone unprecedented scrutiny. Rushden said he sympathises with fans across the footballing pyramid who suffer at the hands of incapable owners.
“If your football club has a soul, you’re lucky...If you feel you have no power and no control, then I think that makes it very difficult.”
Rushden concluded that he also has empathy with fans of elite clubs who battle with the moral dilemma of how their owners attained the wealth that their club now benefits from.
“Football for most people is that escapism, where they don’t have to think about things in the world that are sh*t.”