“DO they have hot dogs and forks?” was the query.

The strangely curious voice emanated from behind me, somewhere over the back of the passenger seat, underneath a Peppa Pig hat and above the neck a Dinosaur jumper. It was an inquisitive tone not normally recognised for the current topic of conversation which skipped out of the mouth of this young babe. “Err…I think so,” was the tentative response, delivered with a hesitance parents of all other three-year-olds will be familiar with, not quite knowing what is coming next.

The lord of the manor in the Batman booster seat pondered his options for all of three seconds before delivering his verdict. “Okay, you can take me to the football then.”

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Never before has a fork and a giant sausage combined with such menace to potentially throw a young child’s future mental wellbeing into potential disarray.

You see, just when to introduce the Pizza Whisperer to the brood of a football club is a precarious business and one not to be taken lightly. Especially when that family is Motherwell. Ever since the Good Lady first delivered him to the world almost four years ago, this correspondent has wrestled with a heart-against-head conundrum given the same consideration as President Trump affords to what industrial-strength hairspray he’s going to buy next.

Only a few days after his birth – a night which saw Motherwell dumped out of Europe by a Stjarnan side filled with players who aren’t even household names in their own house – I returned from the Holy Land of Fir Park bearing a claret and amber onesie which was picked up and put back and picked up again about six times before purchase. I got one for the wean as well.

The disgruntled looks from the Good Lady only made me more determined to usher the heir to the Mullen millions down the same path as his predecessor. “He’ll grow up to hate you for it,” said one colleague upon seeing a picture of a hysteric tiny three-week old pink blob sobbing somewhere inside the perfectly-fitting 6-12 month babygrow. Sod him, if I had to suffer all this time then so can he.

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Throughout his young life football has been a subliminal influence. It’s never far away from the big black box in the living room when I can wrestle the remote away from him, the disappearance of his Old Man to various exotic outposts like the Dens Park press box of a weekend a source of resigned frustration for his mother.

Every now and then, you get a pang of guilt that strikes you with all the force of a Mitchell van der Gaag free-kick. After all, in my 23 years watching Motherwell, what have I got to show for it? Three lost cup finals, an encyclopaedic knowledge of Tommy Coyne, enough match programmes to paper the Great Wall of China and a rather amusing anecdote about a late night following the Dossers in France and a rather large candle. Perhaps for another time.

Surely there are more prosperous pursuits to introduce my offspring to? Poetry writing. Learning the clarinet. Becoming a traffic warden.

That’s just the thing, though. You don’t choose your football team because it’s the one you think will win the most trophies. Well, at least you shouldn’t. Your club is often chosen for you. For me, it was a penchant for the intoxicating mixture of claret and amber when a scarf had to be sourced at the 11th hour for a school play. For the Wee Fella, it is his obsession with hot dogs and plastic cutlery.

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Being a Motherwell fan isn’t easy. It was therefore fitting his introduction to the round ball was a traumatic affair. Upon the arrival of his third birthday we bounced off to his first ‘Mini Steelkid’ class. Forty five minutes of crying and screaming followed, the likes of which had not been seen since the night Alloa Athletic put us out of the League Cup on penalties in the mid 90s. By the time it had been brought to a close and I’d consoled myself that perhaps football wasn’t for him, Wee Barra declared the morning a triumph and demanded a return the following week. Seven months later and he skips along every Saturday morning to his excellent wee class, occasionally kicking a ball. Sometimes even on purpose.

While actually watching Motherwell in action had been earmarked as a pursuit to be savoured for when he was mentally mature enough to cope with it – 43? – Stephen Robinson’s side’s unrelenting march to the Scottish Cup final has fast-tracked his young apprenticeship, just on the off chance history is made. With that in mind, this weekend’s dead rubber against Hamilton Academical earmarked as a test run. “Best try him out here in case he gets scared when we score in the final,” I said to myself, during one of my more optimistic musings.

His introduction to football comes at an exciting time. For Scottish football, but also for Motherwell. A season ticket for kids at Fir Park costs just £20, and on and off the park the club are making huge strides. From new scoreboards, to stunning social media campaigns to a football team that possess the work ethic forged in the steelworks of the town. The future down Fir Park Street seems bright.

Let’s just hope they have a fork.