The Sabotage Guide To The Five Consumers Of Modern Football

Which one are you?
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Which one are you?

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Brian Clough: "Football is a terrible game, you know. It's got a bit of Sky TV money now, and a lot of people are coming to games who wouldn't know Stanley Matthews from Bernard Matthews. The stands are full of people who can't tell you anything about the game unless it happened after 1990. They're either so conceited or so stupid they believe football was invented just five minutes before they became interested in it… I look around at football and I don't recognise what it's changing into."

Clough died in 2004, but uttered this diatribe on the modern game over a decade before that. While the looming figure of Sky remains as strong an influence on the game as it threatened to be back in the 90s, newer technological bedfellows have contributed towards an irreversible shift in the modern game.

Now social media, smartphones, 24-hour rolling news and Internet streaming have accelerated Clough’s dystopian vision way beyond what even he imagined. Football is all about the now. Instant gratification. The past is an irrelevance. The faithful supporter is obsolete. Replaced instead by info-devouring, app-hoarding, money-spinning, bile-spewing consumers.

And you can bet your last accumulator that you’ll recognize yourself described in one of the five sub-categories below, the most shameless bit of football profiling since Thatcher tarred us all with her Eighties Tory brush. Here then, are the five consumers of modern football.

5. The Pseudo Hack

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Who are ya?

You are the by-product of never quite knowing when to turn Sky Sports News off before the loop. Your Christmas Day is Transfer Deadline Day, and you see your life as one big yellow scrolling ticker.

Despite the age of 24-hour news, journalists who sleep outside of grounds and managers who talk through car windows, you still feel the need to fulfil a role that is already well oversubscribed – that of the Pseudo Hack, brimming full of exclusive nearly-news.

Thankfully for you, Twitter and the advent of citizen journalism has arrived, meaning that you can rest assured that the 136 visitors you had to your blog in October, your 49 followers on Twitter, or your dozens of fellow forum dwellers will definitely not miss out when you inform them that “you’re led to believe” that Ade Akinfenwa is definitely considering an offer from Liverpool. Because the BBC didn’t get that one did they?

Location at 3pm on a Saturday:
Retweeting @OptaJoe.

Location at 6pm on a Saturday:
Posting your match report for the blog. What does it matter that Soccer Saturday only cut to Neil Mellor three times? You got the gist.

Most likely to say:
“My sources suggest”

Worships:
Jim White

Loathes:
NCTJ exams

4. The Nouveau Intelligentsia

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Who are ya?
The term ‘hipster’ is now so widely derided it’s become suitably counter-culture enough for you to use once more. You talk confidently of false nines, inverted wing-backs, registas, tiki-taki and Catenaccio. You play Fantasy Football - but only the Slovakian Super Liga version. None of that mainstream shit.

You spend time in French cafes reading (or even writing) that latest piece in The Blizzard about how Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium brings to mind elements of the 17th century Baroque movement. Or enjoying the biography of Dynamo Niet’s reserve goalkeeper, who once had a dog that used to sniff out truffles during the war. Or you’ll just sit there with your Frappe Mochaccino, listening to a podcast playing jazz flute over the commentary of every free kick scored by Andrea Pirlo.

Given the option of watching a Chelsea vs Man City title decider or a mid-table clash in Bundesliga 2, there’s only one winner. After all, everyone knows that VfL Bochum’s Yusuke Tasaka is a joy with the ball at his feet, and it’s criminal that, at the age of 29, he’s never been picked for Japan. Right guys?

Location at 3pm on a Saturday
Deciding which Marcelo Bielsa quote to Google translate and use as your next Facebook status. “A man with new ideas is mad, until he succeeds”. Nailed it.

Location at 6pm on a Saturday:
Streaming La Liga, supping your Chateauneuf du Pape, and scoffing at Guillaume Balague’s latest “insight”. Of course Malaga aren’t going to play with a “back three”. It’s quite clearly a floating libero to complement the trequartista number ten. You’re an idiot Balague, an idiot!

Most likely to say:
Something wistful about James Richardson’s Sunday sundaes.

Worships:
Obscure football kits. The £75 you shelled out on that 1967 AC Ajaccio shirt was definitely worth it for the mild look of confusion on the faces of the guys at 5-a-side. The Alice band was a right touch, too.

Loathes:
Goals. They’re overrated, don’t you know?

3. The Sky Child

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Who are ya?
Of course you know football wasn’t invented in 1992. You just didn’t see the point in it back then. Who wants boggy pitches, sliding tackles, orange balls, Bovril and footballers called Jim who sported ‘taches all year long? Not when you can get pristine bowling greens, diving, footballs tested in space, £5-a-pint Carling and players called Jermain sporting November facefluff just because it goes well with their latest sleeve.

That’s right, you only got your first football semi when Sky Sports worked you into a slow lather with the sound of Simple Minds’ Alive and Kicking. When Meccano stadiums were erected and named after crisps, and jug-eared former players began advertising them. When clubs became franchises and footballers became brands. Brands emblazoned on your wall, worn on your feet, gelled into your hair.

When the term “Super Sunday” was taken out of every lame dad’s lexicon and rebranded as cool. That’s right, football; the game ‘hip’ enough to attract politicians, rockstars and Curly Watts. This was the game for you. And you proudly remain that Nineties tag-along. After all, what’s wrong with asking David May to sign your shirt and pose for a snap in Tesco? So what if you’re 37?

Location at 3pm on a Saturday
Sat in your living room, accompanied by a crate of cheap British disco p**s, Ladbrokes slip in hand, and three mates heartily chuckling at Paul Merson’s latest analysis. “Oh my sides! Lads, did he just say Postel Cantillimon? He did you know! Jeff is gonna rinse him!”.

Location at 6pm on a Saturday:
In that bar from TOWIE, supping a Blue WKD with your mates, discussing Cristiano’s choice of pomade and your favourite episode of Dream Team.

Most likely to say:
“Easeh! Easeh! Easeh!”, whilst clapping like a demented seal. What do you mean that’s not funny anymore?

Worships:
Tubes.

Loathes:
Anyone who uses the terms “division”, “inside half” or “terraces”. Move on, Grandad, and check out these tekkers.

2. The Jaded Addict

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Who are ya?
You are crushingly aware that the game you once loved has gone. Its soul died a long time ago, coincidentally just when it was giving birth to Consumer #3. The personalities of yore have disappeared, replaced with faceless rich young bastards not fit to tie the shoelaces of some of your former heroes.

What’s worse is these drink-driving, philandering, decadent a***holes are even employed in retirement too, paid yet more vast sums of money to offer banal platitudes under the guise of something called punditry.

And when they’re not on the pitch or in the studio, they’re in the news; their every WAG, purchase or indiscretion minutely documented to remind you that you’re now as far removed from these untouchable millionaires as Gerry Francis is from a decent barber.

And the worst thing? You think 99% of footballers are utter w***ers and those at the top of the game are rotten to the core… yet can’t stop yourself from buying that over-priced ticket and lining their pockets, week after miserable week. But one day you’ll show ‘em, one day…

Location at 3pm on a Saturday:
Chanting the name of your striker. The one playing with a tag on his ankle.

Location at 6pm on a Saturday:
Crying tears of salty hypocrisy into your post-match pint, before ringing Talksport to shout back at shoutier presenters who don’t care a jot about what you have to say so long as you spend long enough on a premium line saying it.

Most likely to say:
“This is the last time I pay to watch this s**t again…”

Worships:
Brian Clough. None of this would’ve happened if he were still around.

Loathes:
Footballers. All of them. Actually sod it, football. All of it.

1. The Defiant Purist

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Who are ya?
Like Consumer #4, you’ve fully accepted that the game you fell in love with will never be the same again. But unlike the Jaded Addict, you don’t let cynicism consume you as you follow your team home and way every week.

For you care not a jot about the players, and rarely even about the result. Instead, you get your kicks from the early morning rises, the bus journeys, the same faces, the camaraderie, the sneaky hipflask, the craic (you shudder at the word “banter”). There’s a fair chance your team is utter toilet too. And thank god – there’ll be fewer bandwagon wankers to have to put up with.

You don’t subscribe to any player worship nonsense, knowing fine well that your best player is just a transfer mercenary in waiting. You’re certainly not interested in a photo or an autograph.

And despite what these Twitter t***s might think, it’s not their trending hashtags that gets rid of an underperforming manager or an incompetent board.

It’s you lot. The paying hardcore. The beating heart. The dying breed.

Location at 3pm on a Saturday:
The match. Obviously.

Location at 6pm on a Saturday:
Stuck on a coach in the stadium car park, waiting for the traffic to die down so you can begin the five-hour journey back from Portman bloody Road.

Most likely to say:
“What do you mean it’s a dry f***ing bus?”

Worships:
The badge.

Loathes:
Being last on Match of the Day.

@AlexisNoelJames

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