English football fans are an interesting bunch. Don’t believe me? Go to any ground in the country on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see the cream of British society. It’s beautiful… Well, maybe not beautiful, but it certainly is a sight!
Having held a season ticket for Crystal Palace for the last fifteen seasons, during which time I have witnessed various promotions, relegations and two periods in administration, I feel I have a decent understanding of what makes a good supporter. Here’s what I reckon:
Football fans can be split into two fundamental groups; The big team supporter and Everyone else.
The big team supporter can also be broken down into two factions:
The genuine supporter: someone that is actually from Manchester, Liverpool or West/North London or has family ties to the area or club.
The flake (also known as The glory hunter): If they’re old enough they probably support(ed) Liverpool. Apparently they were good once… I know! Or they follow Manchester United; their brand’s still pretty powerful (for now).
However, now that Arsenal and Chelsea are consistently tasty, flakes from the South East can openly claim long-term allegiance to either and no-one can pull them up for it, as they finally have the right accent (phew).
If Manchester City win anything in the next few years, non-Mancunian City fans will start popping up too. You can tell a flake by how defensive they get when their loyalty is questioned, expect them to mention former players by forename and quote random statistics for added authenticity.
Any non-lovers of the beautiful game that are still reading, may have noticed a theme here; geography. The unwritten rule of football is ‘support your local team.’ Don’t know why. It just is. Failure to adhere to this rule will get you no respect in football circles. Which brings me on to:
A replica shirt and subscription to Sky Sports does not make you a supporter.
Aggressively screaming your support in a pub a short distance from the actual ground does not make you a supporter.
Moaning that your team might not qualify for the Champion’s League does not make you a supporter…
Watching your club fall into crippling debt while Premiership clubs pick off the best players for peanuts while remaining optimistic the entire time makes you a supporter.
Travelling to Brentford or Walsall or Accrington or any other shit hole* to stand in the rain and watch your team lose (again) makes you a supporter.
Continual mediocrity but you still renew your season ticket without question every year; that makes you a supporter… So there!
*sorry people from Brentford, Walsall or Accrington but I’m from Croydon, I’m allowed.