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’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.
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