Tag Archives: football fans

Idiot fan lights up ridiculously poor contest.

Cleverly, Susannah won't sit with non-Brazil fans.

Cleverly, Susannah won't sit with non-Brazil fans.

QPR 1 – 1 Coventry City

Loftus Road, January 10th, 2009.

As you’ve probably guessed from the picture, there wasn’t much to say about this match. Actually, sometimes there is nothing much to say about football. You spend your 30 quid on a ticket and sit in subzero conditions and watch. Then the match is over and you go home. Your life is neither enriched nor damaged by the whole thing; it just was what it was. Your life remains the same. And so try as I might, I simply could not find an interesting thing to say about QPR’s drab 1-1 draw with Coventry City. It was practically a non-event.

It’s moments like this that I wonder why we spend time looking for the bigger meaning or subtexts or themes in sport. It’s games like this that make me think that maybe there is just nothing to say. Coventry got a goal from a free kick taker who was wise to the the QPR goalie’s poor positioning, and QPR equalized with a header that came from a moment of indecisiveness between goalkeeper and defender. That’s it. 1-1.

But you tell yourself to wait and not be so dismissive. Maybe something around the game will give you a story to tell. Like the idiot Coventry fan who chose to sit with the QPR fans (the more moderate section, but home support nonetheless), and cheer like an idiot and taunt like an idiot when Coventry scored.  He actually had the courage to turn around and flip the bird (one on each hand) to the ranks of QPR supporters behind him. That idiot. He was lucky a steward was on hand to pluck him out of there and toss him into the away end. But part of me wished to see the full effect of his idiocy played out – namely via a kicking out the back of Loftus Road – just to teach him a lesson.

And sadly this is all I can take from this match. Fan idiocy. But more specifically, football fan idiocy; that heady mix of seen-it-all-before nonchalance and ‘I’ve been going to games for 30-odd years’ arrogance, with a dash of self-loathing for good measure. After all, the majority of footy fans live to see one or two truly great moments in their lifetimes. The rest, I suppose, has to get taken up with playing a game of chicken with the opposing fans, just to keep things interesting, or something.

There’s no bigger meaning here. Just a simple, short lesson, which is this: when at the football, on a bitterly cold day, with the home team playing pub footy, and the away team (who you support) scores, keep your arse on your seat, your hands in your pockets and your mouth shut. Or sit in the away end. (It works in reverse as well, so it’s actually two lessons for the price of one). And that’s all there is to say about that.

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Fuckin’ beautiful, that ball-kicking game is

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Arsenal 1 – 1 Liverpool
Emirates Stadium, December 21st, 2008

On the hour mark, this game got stained with hate. It actually took me surprise, how beastly football fans can be. I have never heard the word ‘cunt’ said so many times in quick succession (about a hundred times in a minute, to be precise), with so much venom behind each hard ‘c’ and each hard ‘t’.

It was because of Emmanuel Adebayor’s sending off that hatred became the hallmark emotion of this contest in north London. On that incident, the crowd morphed from your garden variety, well-heeled London football fans – they were even funny, the highlight of their pompous London middle-class humour being the chant ‘feed the Scousers/Do they know it’s Christmas time?’ – into something else altogether more disheartening.

What they turned into was nothing short of savage. In the flash of Adebayor’s studs and elbow, the Emirates Stadium became William Golding’s island. The public school boys became spear-wielding, monster-hunting savages, their normally Meridew personas giving way to the face-paint of Jack. The referee Howard Webb was cast as the hapless Piggy, ruthlessly pursued on all fronts as without his figurative glasses, he groped the air in front of him to feel his way through the last half-hour of the match.

Beauty becomes savage when it is set beside savagery. That aphorism rang clear in my mind as I sunk lower and lower into my seat, dismayed at the darker side of football fandom. The beauty of Robin Van Persie’s run, chested control and powerful right-foot finish, and of Robbie Keane’s perfectly struck half-volley in response, were rendered savage by the crowd’s incessant abuse of Webb, Keane (his years at Tottenham never to be forgotten, of course), Alvaro Arbeloa (adjudged to have milked Adebayor’s elbow to his face), and in way, of the match itself.

What is wrong with football fans? Why do we pay 30, 40, 50 quid to go and hate other human beings for their endeavour, season after season? That old argument about the working classes venting a week’s worth of frustration at the footy just doesn’t seem to fly anymore, given that if you can afford a season ticket, you’re probably not that working class. Likewise, the idea that because we are paying customers, we expect a satisfactory (read: three points for our mob, humiliation for theirs) service to be provided by players and officials alike gets shaky when you realise that we’re the mugs who’ve been paying for them to cock things up weekly for decades and yet we still pay, so we can’t get angry now, can we?

So what is it? Why is football fandom always teetering precariously on the precipice of savagery? The irony that the sport known as the ‘beautiful game’ enjoys the most barbarous of fan bases is delicious, but maybe not so complicated to figure out.

Football is primeval. If a meteor hurtled into earth this minute and the grand evolutionary act were to play out all over again, my money is on footy being the first game that would be played. It requires a vaguely spherical object and your foot. It has no apparatus, no complicated rules, no class bias, no judging panel, no odd scoring system.

Football’s simplicity is the source of its beauty. But it is also the source of its savagery. If you kick the vaguely spherical object between two other objects you get a ‘1’. If you miss, you don’t. And back in the day, if your Neanderthal friend was watching, he probably thought ‘how the fuck did he miss that? Even I could’ve scored that!’ Then he may have thrown a rock at you. Not much has changed it seems. Today, if a player misses a good chance, the Homo sapiens watching are likely to think ‘how the fuck did he miss that? Even I could’ve scored that!’ Then they throw abuse at him.

And boom, we’re back in Neanderthal man mode. We’re back to being savages. We’re wielding spears and hunting, but now we’re hunting refs and players. We have never forgotten, through our crazy evolutionary journey, that the simplicity of the game is not beyond any of us. We can all kick the bloody thing. And that’s why we still think and act the same way.

So maybe there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with football fans at all. Maybe all we’re doing is just being human: flitting between beauty and savagery, between applause and abuse and always reminding the illustrious players of the beautiful game that we could fuckin’ come down there and kick the round thing into the goal all by ourselves, you wankers. Ah, the beauty of it.

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