Re: Why be a real sport's fan when you can just...
* I realise the majority of this post may be lost on people outside of the UK and those unfamiliar to football, especially the bits about 'supporter culture' but fuck it, the general gist should be apparent even if the examples are a bit alien to a few of you.
Being local to the team you support is a tremendous advantage especially when its a smaller club. It shows a lot of pride for your town to support Rochdale/Bury/Preston/Bolton/Altrincham etc when Man Utd/Man City/Liverpool/Everton etc are near by and have tremendous following around you. Obviously if you're a Manc you're generally going to be a Utd/City supporter by law of average, and then you'll get fans of the smaller teams nearby or the odd Liverpool fan which usually comes from parents who may have moved to Manchester: I know one girl who has a very passing interest in football, but her Dad despite living in Altrincham most of his life was born in Liverpool and thus proudly supports them in spite of the fact he's largely surrounded by Manchester clubs.
However...supporting a club entails a lot of attributes which matter beyond your location. To me a 'proper' football supporter is a lad/lass who likes to stand, sing, create an atmosphere, go to away days to get pissed up and relish the 5 hour plus journeys as more drinking time etc. To me if you had 3000 of these lot at every Man Utd away I wouldn't bat an eye lid if they were born in Eccles/Didsbury or bloody London. It's easy for me to say that as I reside 45 minutes outside of Manchester the entire time I've supported Man Utd (and at present FC United, too long a story for people not in the UK to appreciate so I'll just say they're a breakaway club formed by Man Utd supporters) but its the same when you ask Mancunians who follow United, as long as supporters fit into their culture and 'ideal supporter' you won't get them complaining about the fan in question being an out of towner compared to say a fan who's from outside Manchester but who sits in silence, boos every misplaced pass and leaves with 10 minutes to go because he daren't miss his saturday evening tele.
Its all about culture and what makes a 'fan'. Most of the time supporters who rip the piss out of Utd/Liverpool/Leeds/Arsenal/Chelsea for having strong followings from all over the country only do so because its the most easiest form of banter and baiting they have available to them without resorting to chants about tragedies that have dominated those clubs: e.g Munich Air Disaster, Hillsbrough crush and the Istanbul stabbings for Utd, Liverpool and Leeds respectively (Matthew Harding's death would also be applicable to Chelsea).
So yeah, being from Leicester and supporting Leicester at a time when say Notts Forest were winning back to back European Championships is extremely admirable. It highlights the passion for your birthplace and your local culture, however it won't make you a better supporter compared to an out of towner who follows his team regularly, enjoys football for the right reasons, knows the history/songs to sing etc. There are loads of hometown supporters who follow premier league/championship/league 1 & 2 clubs who turn up week in week out, sit in silence whilst they listen to the radio and generally slag their team off when they're not winning who to me are pretty shit 'fans', they would still be shit if they made a 2 hour journey to each game imo.
Ian Brown summed it up best, "Its not where you're from, but where you're at". Essentially if you present me with the following 2 contrasts of supporters:
(a) Man Utd fan born and raised in Didsbury, OT is only a tram ride away. Supporter has been going for years but regularly avoids the Stretford End & K Stand (notorious parts of the ground for atmosphere), sits in silence, leaves on 80 minutes, boos the team off when they're losing, very impatient, moans at people who he sees drinking and being a bit boisterous etc. The sort who'd turn down 80% of games per season but will be right there for the Liverpool, City, Champions League Semi Final games.
(b) Man Utd fan born and raised in Chester (45 minutes away), London (3 hours), Preston (30 mins). Regular match goer home and away, resides usually in Stretford End or K Stand. Always stands every game, doesn't shut up all game and sings a variety of old school/modern songs whether United are 3-0 up or 0-3 down, enjoys many drinks, heads to the pub before and after the match instead of going round the megastore or getting in the ground an hour before kick off etc. Always supporting the team during and after a game, will continue to follow the club in spite of their on field performances.
I'd pick (b) as a better reflection of a true supporter everytime regardless of location, the same way (a) to me is a dire fan whether he's from Manchester or out of town, its not about his location but his ideals and ways of supporting his team that intrigue me. Its the same with a ton of supporters up and down the country, you really think Derby County as a support will turn away true supporters who are from outside Derby just because they've abused other clubs for having out of towners in their support? Nope.
Last edited by WOOLCOCK : 10-02-2012 at 09:37 PM.