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The Shit Hits The Fan

by Tom Law
17 October 2010 24 Comments

Exactly when did we all become 3D-loving, replica shirt-wearing, insurance selling, dodgy owner accepting soccer sheep? How old school football fans lost their identity and became consumers.

We’re football fans.

We get behind the lads. We stick with ‘em – through the wind and the rain. Over land and sea. We’ll always be there – with our little pick and shovel; we’ll be there.

That’s what we’re like. We’re bonkers really. Totally bonkers. We can’t get enough of it. We watch Soccer AM. We post on message boards. We buy Robbie Savage’s autobiography. We stand around in pubs wearing 3D spectacles.

We’re like that Paul Whitehouse character; we drive up and down motorways, talking loudly in regional accents about the club of our choice. That’s what it’s all about.

And these are halcyon days for us. Football supporters have never been so popular. Everyone loves us: advertisers, media, politicians, criminals. They all want to be in our gang. They share our passions. And that’s great.

Because it never used to be like this. We used to be a wretched bunch. We were more trouble than it was worth: gobby, prone to violence and with little in the way of a disposable income. The only attention we got was from police, porridge manufacturers and local businessmen.

Thankfully those dark days are behind us. Over the past 20 years we’ve had a Gok Wan style makeover. They’ve removed our nasty habits and taught us the correct way to behave. We’ve had to lose a few along the way but it’s been more than worth it.

We strode out of the fitting room to gasps of delight: look at us now. Just look at us. It’s an astonishing transformation: we’re just like them!

Society can finally absorb us. No longer are we the troublesome outsiders. We’re just like everyone else. Take away our nylon shirts and we could be at Last Night of the Proms or watching Formula One or listening to The Hoosiers.

“We’re bonkers really. Totally bonkers. We can’t get enough. We watch Soccer AM. We post on message boards. We buy Robbie Savage’s autobiography. We stand around in pubs wearing 3D spectacles.”

We’ve learnt how to channel our emotions in a positive direction. To sit instead of stand. To do as we’re told. To let our money do the talking: season tickets, ringtones, padded jackets, Sky Sports packages. That’s what it means to us. That’s the passion. That’s our way of kissing the badge.

We’re the best consumers in the world. The customers you can’t get rid of. Go ahead and try it. Buy yourself a football club and do whatever you want: flog the ground, cripple it with debts; use the club to launder dirty money. Hike up the prices. Insult us. Ignore us. It doesn’t matter; we’ll keep coming back.

Because the role of a supporter is to support. That’s what we do. That’s our thang. We’ll continue to shuffle through the turnstiles. We may write naughty things about you on message boards. We may hold up red cards in your general direction – but we’ll keep supporting the lads.

We don’t care who you are. You can be a rapist. You can be a war criminal. You can have a history of asset stripping football clubs. It doesn’t bother us. All we ask is that you drape yourself in a club scarf and make some vague promises about future investment. That’ll do us. We’re living the dream.

And, please, don’t take our spineless and servile attitude as a sign of weakness. It’s the exact opposite. It’s what makes us so strong. We’re like a battered housewife who leaves casualty and returns straight back into the arms of her loved one. That takes real strength. That’s commitment.

And that’s what being a fan is all about. We’re fanatics. It’s not rational or logical. It’s deeper than that. We’re crazy. We’re bonkers. All we want to do is get behind the lads. To stick with ‘em – through thick and thin.

Green army!!!

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Ian 2:06 pm, 7-Sep-2010

Exactly. New football is rubbish and plastic.

woodsy 2:12 pm, 7-Sep-2010

that's about the sum of it... pretty much all of it stinks. even found myself mourning the passing of shows like 'Saint & Greavsie'

tom okker 2:37 pm, 7-Sep-2010

Excellent article. Most footy 'fans' now aren't fans, they're just consumers, buying into a product.

Keith Wildman 6:07 pm, 7-Sep-2010

The pic at the top makes me want to vomit my own shit.

JohnA 9:46 am, 8-Sep-2010

wow, that's some embarrassing self righteous bollocks isn't it? You can now await a load of poor knuckle draggers to look up to you and you're absolute fucking nonsense.

lee 11:54 am, 8-Sep-2010

That article sums up pretty much everything that is bad about football these days

Energy Warning 11:59 am, 8-Sep-2010

I know this is the sort of thing that gets lots of comments along the lines of "great article mate", but this is tabloid-level nonsense. Lots of ranting, but not much content. Why not do a proper article, actually exploring some of these things?

Leyton rocks 12:48 pm, 8-Sep-2010

I'm with energy warning ... Speak to people in the sports cafe about their experience and compare it to others or your own ..

Dave 7:34 pm, 8-Sep-2010

don't think that the football fans themselves have undergone personality changes, but the old school supporters have been forced out by Sky and the premiershite, just look at chelsea

Big Dave 10:59 am, 10-Sep-2010

truer in the premier league where middle class kids from chesire stroll into manchester and make sure the locals cant afford to watch 2 of the best teams in the country; than in the lower league. try going to stockport county, of fc united games, it will restore your faith in the 'fan'.

Dolle Dolf 9:46 pm, 10-Sep-2010

All true unfortunately. I guess the 'real fan' watches the games in the pub now. Never bought a friggin' replica shirt and never will (well perhaps if it is of a player in the 60s or something). It could be worse than sitting among the kids from cheshire. I have to stand n a bar among a bunch of clueless yanks who think the 'premeeeeer league' is the dog's bollocks and if there is one minute of silence they think the fans are 'not for real.' Sometimes I wish i could let go. But like the housewife I can't. Not sure if it is strength though. I feel more like an enabler. And sometimes I wish I could delight in being a 'real fan' from the lower reaches of the football league. Some never won anything diehard from a horrible post industrial dump in the middle of nowhere. But woe is me I support one of the 'big four.' They were my local side. Nothing I can do. It is in the blood. I am an enabler.

Tom Law 11:48 am, 11-Sep-2010

I don't see it as being a Premiership thing. I support a non-league side. £17 to get in. Club shop sells overpriced tat. Food vendors sell overpriced crap. Constant, ever-changing squad. Exotic overseas players. Few local lads. Lots of badge kissing. Owners who are asset stripping the club. Bits of the ground being sold off to property developers - while we watch on in bemused silence. As long as you get behind the lads etc.

Nick Hester - Editor Thorne in The Side Brentford Fanzine 10:21 am, 13-Sep-2010

Great article - Everything I hate about the 'New Plastic' Football Supporter. Maybe I'm one of those sad nostalgic stuck in the past fans but I am so glad I have had the opportunity of experiencing everything that 'was' great about the real game...

Martin 9:49 am, 14-Sep-2010

There are so many things wrong here; "We’ve learnt how to channel our emotions in a positive direction. To sit instead of stand. To do as we’re told. To let our money do the talking: season tickets, ringtones, padded jackets, Sky Sports packages. That’s what it means to us. That’s the passion. That’s our way of kissing the badge." Awful.

Jim Thornton 7:51 am, 18-Oct-2010

It's not just the fans who are comparatively 'unreal' in the Premier League, it's most of the clubs themselves and the fact that our rituals and routines have been hi-jacked or diverted by different kick off times, new stadia, no standing, crippling prices etc. It's easier for me as I'm a lifelong Stoke fan long since exiled in East Sussex, but I've rediscovered real football, real fans and real fun as one of the shareholders in the latest Community owned club, Lewes FC. Football used to be about so much more than the match - it was about community, shared experiences, friendships forged, a sense of belonging, a visceral, sensual experience but sadly so much of that has been lost in the goldrush of The Premier League. That's not to say it doesn't still exist - I think clubs like Stoke, Bolton, Blackburn, are desperately trying to retain some of that connection with community and heritage - but if you really want to rediscover the emotional connection we used to have with our football clubs go and watch a team who'll appreciate your support and not take you for granted. These are real Clubs, who treat their supporters like members not customers. there's an enormous difference.

Colin 1:21 am, 19-Oct-2010

Don't ever trust anyone, except an American, who says 'guys'. All the people in that picture use this term frequently when talking to men and women, but didn't use it 7 years ago. Frightening.

Colin 1:24 am, 19-Oct-2010

Oh and 'Big Dave', if you knew 'owt then you'd know that a lot of Uniteds old lot were indeed from Cheshire. Not every address in Cheshire is a country cottage.

Jonesy 10:40 pm, 8-Nov-2010

Gonna do my best not to gloat... Doesn't have to be that way. My team are hot news too right now, AFC Wimbledon. Here's hoping we are playing Stevenage soon rather than the ultimate expression of gullible cunt football fan fc ( or Mc Franchise as you may know them).

MO'B 9:47 pm, 16-Nov-2010

Some genuine revelations here. Thought-provoking stuff.

biff bifferson 9:51 pm, 16-Nov-2010

i'm thinking of getting down to see afc wimbledon. i want in on something good!

bill 10:01 pm, 21-Nov-2010

football has always been in 3D! Go to the game.

spike 11:05 pm, 2-Dec-2010

Blame Man Utd and their complete arrogance & disregard for fair play...Oh! And the general low intelligence of most football fans!!

Al 6:09 pm, 25-Jan-2011

No particularly axe to grind with Arsenal, but went back with Leeds after a long time away from Highbury – even the difference from the late 90s shocked me. It’s not just the flaccid, moneyed ennui of the Emirates but the way the club prostitute its history purely as a marketing tool and the compliant masses can’t help but suckle on the teat. There’s much wrong with Leeds – as there is everywhere – but it was a terrifying glimpse of the sport’s present/future.

Ian 10:36 pm, 25-Jan-2011

Had a season ticket through late 80s and 90s. I travelled to many away games. One by one the grounds with character disappeard. I will not even watch it on tv these days. Lucky to have experienced football when I did. Won't say which club as it is not important. Can't understand what the older generation get out of it to be honest, they should now better.

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