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LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to forget which football team he supported on Saturday, drawing ridicule on social media just days ahead of an election in a country known for its love of sport.
Cameron, a descendant of King William IV and an alumnus of the elite Eton College, was left looking embarrassed after referring to his support for the east London Premier League club West Ham in a speech about identity.
Cameron quickly tried to backtrack, pointing out that he is in fact a fan of Aston Villa, another Premier League club from the centre of England who wear a similarly coloured kit.
"I don't know what happened to me," he said afterwards. "I must have been overcome by something this morning."
Cameron, also a fan of the upper class pursuit of fox hunting who is accused by his critics of being out of touch with ordinary voters, said he had suffered a "brain fade". He later failed to remember when Aston Villa won the European Cup.
The mistake was seized on by critics as the first major gaffe of a political campaign that has been tightly stage managed by both main parties before the May 7 vote.
The prime minister was dubbed a phoney on Twitter for his attempts to associate with a sport that is followed by millions of people in Britain.
"David Cameron has forgotten which Football Club he supports. Aston Villa last week, West Ham this. Burnley next?" tweeted Gary Lineker, a broadcaster and former England captain.
Ed Balls, the Labour Party finance spokesman and a fan of Norwich City, also joined in.
"Hey David Cameron.. I'm off to see that football team I support this afternoon. Name escapes me.. they play in yellow... Watford?"
Cameron's uncle used to be the chairman of Aston Villa.
Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Kevin Liffey