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A 'Proper' Fan
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
At some point, when chatting to a stranger about football, they ask me: "So, when was the last time you went to a game?" They are the words I used to dread. I would mumble that I hadn't been in a while, and then I'd change the subject by pointing at the sky and saying that the sun looked unusually angry today.

Luckily, I no longer have to make these excuses as last year a friend of mine with a season-ticket at White Hart Line did a lot of travelling (she wasn't sent to prison. Really. She wasn't) and gave me her ticket. I stood in a corner of the Park Lane and tried to remember the words to the various chants (why someone hasn't done a song for Luka Modric to the tune of Luka by Suzanne Vega is beyond me. Maybe football fans don't like Suzanne Vega). Hooray! At last I was a proper football fan. But it got me thinking about football and how we watch it.

Often, when people talk about why they support a particular team, they go misty-eyed and say: "Oh, my dad used to take me to St James's Park as a kid. Every Saturday," or "I grew up on the terraces at Anfield, standing on the Kop, cheering for Ian Rush". I never did any of that. My dad had grown up watching Boca Juniors play every week in the Bonbonera in Buenos Aires, but as a child in suburban north London, I was very pro sitting at home playing on a ZX Spectrum, and very anti the idea of travelling for ages to stand in the cold watching some men kick a ball. As a kid, I would get very excited about the FA Cup final and the World Cup and then forget about it for the rest of the year.

Then, in the early nineties I went off to university and my love of football blossomed. Fortunately it coincided with English football emerging from the post-Heysel doldrums and, boosted by all the lovely Premiership/Sky money, it stopped being men with sideburns hacking each other in fields of mud and started being fun. People actually passed the ball. Men with foreign names were allowed. I was hooked. But still, it never occurred to me to actually go to football matches. I had grown up watching football on TV and I wasn't tempted to change my habits. I liked watching football on TV.

When I chatted to fellow Spurs fans, I was as knowledgeable as any of them. I knew who was playing well and who was playing badly, who scored and who missed and (as covered in previous blogs) who had just had a haircut. But I felt like a fraud: everyone else was actually going to games, whereas all my experience was from watching on TV. But does that really matter? Do you have to go to games to be a real fan? Does real commitment always involve having to leave the house? I suppose I'm wrestling with the thorny issue of authenticity.

There are some TV shows I love. LOST, for example. I could have watched LOST all day every day without getting bored (ok, I might have skipped the last series) but if someone said: "Hey! They are doing a live version of LOST, where you can stand in a stadium in the rain and if you're watching from the right angle, you might catch all of the drama," I would politely decline. Similarly, there are loads of bands I love, but I don't want to see them live. Because much as I love the Manic Street Preachers, I don't want to stand in a crowd, hearing my favourite songs butchered by a drunk bloke bellowing in my ear. I would rather plug in my mp3 player and wander the streets, listening in my own private bubble, pretending it's the opening credits to the film of my life.

There are some film directors, like Woody Allen, who say that you haven't really watched their films unless you've seen them at the cinema. Which seems odd, given that most people watch films on TV or on DVD. Most films have a short run in the cinema and will then live on for decades on television. And for a lot of people out there, it's the same with football. Their experience of the world is on TV. Like me, they will have grown up watching football on television. Maybe they live in a country where there isn't much football, or they live hundreds of miles from their local stadium (I don't have those excuses). Whatever the reason, their natural experience of football is watching it on TV, complete with 25 different cameras from a multitude of angles, instant slow-motion replays and commentary from a very annoying man who cannot construct a coherent sentence.

Having watched six or seven games live last season, I enjoyed it. I liked the banter, and the atmosphere and screaming my head off when Spurs scored. But although I enjoyed it, and it's tempting to say it was miles better than watching a match on TV, it wasn't. It was different. It was fantastic in some ways and rubbish in other ways, just like watching football on TV. Obviously, I'm not advocating that people stop going to football matches and start watching all football from the comfort of their armchair; that would be a disaster. I'm just asking what makes you a real fan, and whether it always involves standing on the terraces, chanting along in unison.

Blog by Greg


This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
Gooch (Bayern München) 2 years ago
Absolutely right. I live in Canada but follow Bayern Munich as much as possible. I watch every single one of their games over my computer and talk to anyone about them who's willing to listen. I wholly hope to one day visit the Allianz Arena, but not attending games in person doesn't disqualify you from being a "real" fan. I know many people in Canada that have an unbelievable knowledge of world football and haven't even left their province
SrpskiCevap (Inter Milan) 2 years ago
YES thank you! Perfectly said man
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
Ya Gooch I live in Canada and I am an insane fan of Chelsea, I really started watching last couple years, I didn't know where to watch all games that weren't on tv here like 2 years ago, but like last year and this year I try and I mean try watch every game I can on tv here, luckily the EPL is on TSN2 and Sportsnet and whatever here on tv, and champions league is televised on tv in canada, but like you bit more unlucky with the Bundesliga not really shown on any major channels here, but ya when Chelsea games not on tv here I watch on computer which isn't as good but still a way to see the team I love play, I try skipping school here to watch games and everything, my dream is to go to Stamford Bridge like you to Allianz and See bayern, but I want to go to England and Europe and see all stadiums and watch Chelsea and stuff, I mean we got to wake up early for games here
Jashank (Liverpool) 2 years ago
@ gooch and @cflnhlfifafan

I'm a fellow canadian aswell and I love liverpool dearly. Its hard to find true soccer fans in this country who share the vast knowledge of soccer and passion for the sport. I hope to meet fans like you who love the sport and love sharing it.... And I dream of going to anfield but my specific dream si going there before steven gerrard retires. Never had the chance to see him play in his prime and don't want to lose on seein him before he retires. If you guys live by toronto give me a shout and we can def watch some games together!
JulioFC (Inter Milan) 2 years ago
I too, am a Canadian and I support Inter Milan. Who says you have to be from the same city to support a team? I also support and Love the Brazilian national team and I'm not even Brazilian. I believe it has nothing to do with where you're from, but what you know about the game and how passionate you are about it. I follow the teams that I do because I love the type of football they play. I could easily follow TFC since I live like 30 minutes away from the stadium, but I don't because I dislike the type of football that's played in the MLS. I think the problem that these so called "True" supporters have is that they hate "Bandwagon" fans. Bandwagon fans know nothing about football and only follow the most popular team or player(s)
Wesblitz (Manchester City) 2 years ago
Just because you don't like the style in MLS doesn't mean you shoudnt support your local team. Anyway the style isn't bad it is just not developed as much as much as pretty much any other countries soccer. I support the colo rapids very closesly. But yes I do agree you don't have to go to games to be a real fan. Being a real fan isn't nessicarily what you do. It is all about your emotions and your heart for your team. If you buy season tickets and have $10000 worth of appearel doesn't make you a real fan (although it would be very likely that you are a very real fan if you are willing to go to those extremes). What matters is you go to persenal extremes to support your team. Having a heart for your team is what makes a true fan
NAOTA (Chelsea) 2 years ago
There is so many Canadians on this site. For I tooooo AM I canadian! But I agree with what all of you guys have posted too. I don't think you need to be from a city or have visited the grounds of the team you adore to be called a "true" fan. What I think a true fan is someone who lives for the games lives for the triumphs and the downs of the team you support. And just enjoys watching some good footy!
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
Ya there quite few Canadians on here, feel free to add me on here if you want, but ya I think being a true fan is wanting to catch all games best you can and try follow as best, like for example a couple years ago I kinda liked Chelsea but didn't no much, I just followed, maybe watched highlights or whatever, didn't really know everything about leagues and stuff, like last year half way through year and stuff was really when started being huge fan and started footytube and stuff, like I say I became true fan, like I watch schedule for any soccer on for Chelsea or EPL or Champions League on tv here for TSN2, or Sportsnet or whatever, I would buy Setanta but it no HD for my satalite, but ya I love watching it on TV, if not I watch on computer which not as good but still way to see Chelsea, I wake up every saturday or whatever morning for game, I buy my jersey for them and got scarf and whatever, I talk to fans and go on footytube, follow whole EPL and stuff, like I do for NHL and CFL my whole life, just EPL is newer for me, like I really fan of EPL and Chelsea, I skip school sometimes to see Chelsea when they play weekgames like champions league or like yesterdays game vs Man City EPL game, that's how much I fan, and guys if we lived in England or whereverEurope(depending what team your for), we for sure go to games right? I would 100% right away think about going to game travelling on train with fans to away games too, you know, like TV is nice to watch on but I dream of going to a game in London at Stamford Bridge or even away games wherever Chelsea play so and be with that atmosphere. And relating to us Canadians I huge leafs fan for 10 years, and now Jets back home and lucky got season tickets with my family and I love going to games like its amazing atmosphere, same with Bombers, there nothing better than being there, its great so awesome being with all those fans, I spend so much on jerseys, and whatever hats, scarfs, anything, whatever to represent my team, I think if you live in region close and have opportunity to buy tickets, a true fan would, some people prefer not watching game at live stadium but I don't see why they don't? Same with if your a true fan, wouldn't you want to buy your teams jersey? Like I have all my favourite teams jerseys, even a couple each. Being there is the best, like JETS and bombers games are amazing, like that the closest I can be for my teams, so I go for them, Leafs I just went to exhibition games, but Jets almost taking over for favourite team now, but ya I dream of going to Chelsea game, and hopefully one day I do! I always want to go Europe and England, see all stadiums and stuff, I love sports, and the real football is beautiful sport, can't wait till one day I hopefully travel, and see Chelsea and other football(soccer) games!
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
If anybody didn't understand or anything, I could talk all day about being true fan or whatever going to games, cause I dream of it, and I am one of the most true fans alive for sure and I only 16
Tony (footytube staff) 2 years ago
And why shouldn't you, we all do, its called passion, I have loved united since I was 8 years old when I first set eyes on george best, I'm 53 now, and even more passionate about the game, I do get to the odd game, but not as many as I would like.
I wish everyone had a chance to see their team, its a great experience
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
Ya its the passion the teams here I can see aren't real football(soccer) but like I still enjoy going to games seeing here, it amazing, but going to see Chelsea and football games in Europe now that would be a dream come true, I love it watching here on tv and stuff, but in real life is the best, but I happy I atleast can watch my hockey club here and amercian football team here(not the soccer) but ya it great I can't wait to go to Europe it going be sweet, one day I dream, wearing my Chelsea jersey and scarf and seeing it in front of my eyes!
Lifeguard (Bayern München)(Footytube Staff) 2 years ago
Add me to the growing list of Canadians who enjoy this site.... I only can dream of actually going to see Bayern play a game in the Allianz Arena...
Messionage (Barcelona) 2 years ago
Me too! Lol.... I am canadian aswell, and follow barca! This site is great for all of us to get connected to each others as soccer/football fans!
Messionage (Barcelona) 2 years ago
Me too! Lol.... I am canadian aswell, and follow barca! This site is great for all of us to get connected to each others as soccer/football fans!
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
Ya Canadians! We can show that Canadians still care about soccer(football)!
Cloudst 2 years ago
I'm Canadian I hope one day I can visit Ashburton Grove till then I'll follow arsenal with all my passion and heart from Canada
MemoNick (Olympique Lyon) 2 years ago
I agree wholeheartedly with you. I am Maltese and an Olympique Lyonnais fan. I can't possibly attend a match, yet I love my team. I watch all the matches on my computer - because in Malta there is no TV station that has the rights to broadcast matches. I have friends who have gone to their teams' matches yet surprisingly, they are not as good supporters as I am
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
I can relate I live in Canada and I watch all Chelsea games on either Tv or if not shown here then on computer and stuff, like I huge fan like you, and I want to go to a chelsea game one day and stuff!
MemoNick (Olympique Lyon) 2 years ago
Same.... I'm only 15 and my biggest wish is to watch OL play in their own stadium
Tony (footytube staff) 2 years ago
Your time will come memonick
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
Ya I 16, and young but one day you and me will our clubs play in front of our eyes, it will be a beautiful day
Tanmay 2 years ago
I watched Iniesta, Villa, Iniesta, Rooney, Nani at the Barca-United friendly a few months ago, and the experience was one I will remember - there they were in flesh and blood! I also saw some great off the ball movement, and Owen's and Nani's deadly counterattack, things that you cannot see when a cameraman is controlling your field of vision. But at the same time there were subtleties I missed, things happening at the other end of the ground, subtle tricks and movements I wouldn't catch without a replay.

One day I will go to Camp Nou too, and the Emirates, and they will be memorable experiences I'm sure. But in the meanwhile what really brings this game to life for someone like me, living thousands of miles away and from another country, is television
Gohonaf (Manchester United) 2 years ago
You don't have to attend the team's game to be a fan of a team. Living in the us and being a full time student, I can't possibly afford to be able to travel overseas to watch my fav team and so I watch them on tv. That is not to say that I don't plan to one day go to europe to watch them but its just ludicrous that some people who actually live in england and can go watch these games without much hassle like to claim that your not a true fan unless you go to the stadium to watch the games. Also another main reason why I hesitate to go is that I get sick around large crowds.

Glory Glory man united
SuperSpurs (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
Same Gohonaf, there is no way for me to attend games as a full-time student even if I did have the money as I have to spend my summers working. I'm going to go take a vacation to London right after I graduate and plan on attending a match or two then!

It's far more feasible to watch games on the telly or even just stream matches but that doesn't mean it's any easier. After spending the entire week studying, we must give up the opportunity to sleep in in order to be ready for kick-off in the morning and we put in just as effort into making ourselves available for the game as anyone else
Redsince63 (Manchester United) 2 years ago
Theres always been a debate in England over "fans " and " supporters" supporters bieng the ones who pay to go and watch the game and fans of course the ones who stay at home !
The supporters who pay mega bucks to go to the game week in week out have my respect and my pity cos there supporting not only there team but also the bank balance of a lot of undeserving rich owners ? Green & Gold comes to mind.
Fans who watch at home usually tend to be avid collectors who buy all sorts of club related gear so they have to pay for the merchandise add to that the fact that satelite TV is not cheap and without sat tv there wouldn't even be a premier league or a champions league in the way we know it !
Its a fact that going to a game costs, time, money and needs to be possible ie guys in other parts of the world can't jet off to England 3 times a week or even 1 time a year, add to that the fact that most games are all ticket then you have a problem !
I've been a United supporter on the terraces for 20 years and i've been a United fan for the 30 years i've been living abroad !
Once a year I order about 200/300 euro's wort of merchandise via the Internet mega store and can happily say I'm a follower of Manchester United my lifes passion and my lifes dream !
So those who want to be supporters be that, those who want to be a fan that's your choice and all those who want to follow there team enjoy the magic of the team of your choice !
And anyone who puts somebody else down is just a moron anyway !

@Gohanaf, you'd be sick at some of the mindless s**t i've seen at football matches over the years, another reason why people stay at home theres less chance of them ending up in hospital !
Tony (footytube staff) 2 years ago
I can fully agree with patrick, as we are of a similar age, and have seen the massive changes at old trafford, where you see very few teenagers, but loads of middle aged guys who can afford it.
As for fans from around the world, whats the problem? , some are lucky enough to see united once or twice in a lifetime, its a big undertaking for anyone outside of manchester to make it to a utd game.
I go a few times a season myself, but its only 50 minutes flight to manchester from belfast, unless you want to take the liverpool ferry route which is 10 hours, and that's only to get to liverpool, stuff that.
Why call man utd a "worldwide brand", then say foreign fans are not supporting their club? , someones obviously spending big money, or we would not be that so called worldwide brand.
I would never even think of putting someone down because I do visit old trafford and they don't, its just not possible for most people, and they are as passionate as I am.
I suppose when you take into consideration distance, expense, work, school or whatever, its just impossible for most, but they do support the club through shirt sales etc:, among a multitude of other club merchandise, which is far from cheap btw, infact its extortinate at times, but hey? .... We're only the fans
HangTime (Chelsea) 2 years ago
I am a big Chelsea fan but I can almost say I will never go to one of their game.... Unless maybe if they come to the USA again. For one, traveling to England is too much (ticket, hotel, ticket, ect). I am not even a middle class asian america, lower class (financially). But, my girlfriend got me a Chelsea jacket and a Chelsea training jersey and I wear it with pride whenever they play. Wish she would had gotten me a game jersey. Maybe I'll get myself one in a few years. (I just got my bachelor and still looking for a job)
Totaldribble 2 years ago
I think one of the main points missed here about 'proper' football fan is that they actually follow football and not just their clubs. When you get glory supporters they usually just follow thier own club and never watch the matches. The type of fans who will class themselves as 'proper' will not only look at the scores and watch the matches of their own teams, but also local teams and rival teams other clubs around the world. I usually enjoy watching a game of barca every week or two. Their football is just brilliant! Like Arsenals used to be
Hill (Arsenal) 2 years ago
Someone hasn't taken in a recent Arsenal match
Markodon (NK Dinamo Zagreb) 2 years ago
Nice post, but I find the comparisons to the cinema and concerts a bit unnecessary, it's like mixing apples and pears. You're right when you say that watching a match at the stadium and on tv are two quite different experiences, but going to see a match live at the stadium is one of the best things in the world for me. That kind of passions can't be experienced while watching a match alone or with a couple of mates at home
PrettyFly87 (West Ham United) 2 years ago
Well I was born in USSR (Kazakh SSR), so live football was something like University Football in England - total undisputable s**t. But I used to go to the stadium and watched this crap, and watched quit a lot to be honest. Russian TV used to show one Premiership game per week (and usually not the best one), and one Champions League game (usually the one where Russian teams played). So I had to read all the possible newspapers (no Internet fellows in the end of 90s) in order to be aware about the situation in the world football.

My point is that I really had NO chances to watch my favourite teams live, but as soon as I came to England I went to 49 (including 23 Upton Park visits and 2 away trips with Hammers) football games in 4 years, attending 11 football stadiums in 4 different UK cities. Recently went to watch my favourite Russian team Lokomotiv Moscow, and it was -15 outside, I was deadly frozen, but still would say that watching football live is much more exciting than on TV - but it will never prove the fact that real fans are just the ones who go to the stadiums (but I personally use every chance to do that)
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
I live in Canada and have became a huge fan I say last year, like 2-3 years ago I followed Chelsea a bit, but didn't really no as much about the EPL and Champions League, I didn't know where I could watch all games, I knew a few were on tv and stuff, but like now I know and follow absolute everything chelsea, middle last year I really became hard core fan, I tried to watch every game, like I mean try, I skipped school for some Chelsea games that were Champions league, I wake up at 7-11 on saturday morning to see games on computer if there not on tv, I glad Canada we have a few channels that show Champions league and EPL, I happy about that, the games I watch on computer aren't as good, there not as clear and there delayed and stuff, but there a way to watch Chelsea which my team! I try connected to Chelsea my best and wish I could go to games, If I lived in England I would defiantly go to as many games as I could afford to go, I love the atmosphere of it, Its my dream I want to see the stadiums and a game in front of my eyes, to be honest if I was there, it be no brainer I would right away be at stadium and watching game, its true way to be fan, just like buying a jersey is my way of showing a true fan, if you love the team and support them, then buy there jersey and watch there games, if I live there I would go, I bought lots Chelsea stuff too, I got 2 nice jerseys, I just got nice long sleeved Torres Jersey like a couple weeks ago, and I have scarf and belt buckle and stuff, I watch the games all in blue watching Chelsea cheering and fist pumping in excitement, now I wish I could go to the games with the thousands others in England, so I say a real fan would want to go, but some prefer TV more, I would defiantly do both
CFLNHLFIFAFAN (Chelsea) 2 years ago
I'd also say for any other Canadians that follow there teams here, the teams in Europe not the MLS teams like Whitecaps and TFC and Montreal or whoever, again I don't mind those teams in Canada but I live Winnipeg, which not as far obviously as Europe but I just don't have the desire to cheer for them like Chelsea, I way rather watch Chelsea play Arsenal or go to other huge stadiums or any premier team, go to away game, be in that atmosphere, but if I end up going to like Vancouver or Toronto, Montreal for visit and a game is playing that day I might go see it and stuff, but ya I wish I lived in Europe, especially London and could see all games of Chelsea, I would be a huge supporter, here In winnipeg we got a NHL team back the Winnipeg Jets and got season tickets and I mean I crazy fan there I love the crowds, and atmosphere its just wear it belongs, Its way better than on TV, everything about it, but TV is there when I can't go to games or there away and stuff but ya also Bombers got nice big stadium to watch game and that sweet too, I can see some sports here and stuff and still watch EPL on tv and stuff, but I mean if I lived in England I would for sure go to games, I mean I wake up dreaming I could, I love the crowds and atmospheres, it best part of sports, I know us Canadians are one best sports fans, and there still I bet quite few huge soccer fans like me around Canada, there bunch on fooytube here too, so ya!
Fiasc0 (Eintracht Braunschweig) 2 years ago
Its an individual decision, imo.    
   
Overdriver (Liverpool) 2 years ago
As a Korean-born Australian Liverpool fan, I agree more or less with the writer. Football clubs (especially successful ones in big leagues)have so many international fans whose support for their respective teams cannot culminate in weekly visits to the stadium. It doesn't change the fact they love the clubs they love though. Maybe if they had the chance to go to the games and be a 'real' fan, they would. But as the writer said, I'm not so sure that only going to the games constitutes genuine support.

Like the writer my love for football really only began when I entered uni and started talking to other people who liked football too. Once I fell in love with Liverpool I did my homework and tried my best to get to know the history of the club, reading about Bill Shankly, Kenny Dalglish, the invincible era of the 80's and the Hillsborough tragedy....

So visiting Anfield is one of my dreams to say the least. If I had the opportunity to spend some time in Liverpool, going to the games every weekend would be at the top of my priorities. But living in Melbourne, I still consider myself an avid supporter of Liverpool. My Gerrard jersey is on its way.
Spursaussie3 (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
I think its the case that if you would say the only real supporters are the ones who go to the game, then your canceling out the massive amount of fans across the world. I go almost every weekend to the pub, sometimes early mornings of 7am, to watch the spurs play here in the US. The people who I join at this english LA pub are some of the most die hard hotspur fans you could imagine, cockerel tatts all over them. They haven't been to a game in years, some of them have never even set foot in england. But I dunno, maybe it's different if you live in tottenham and still choose to watch the tube instead of going to white hart lane right across the ways?
KingHarryKewell (Liverpool) 2 years ago
As an Aussie myself, obviously going to Anfield to watch Liverpool play is a rather expensive venture, not to mention very far. Does this make me less of a fan of the Reds compared to someone who practically lives at Anfield? Absolutely not! The beauty of the likes of the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga etc is that the fan base is not just restricted to the countries of England, Spain and Germany - it's amazing how much of a following a lot of teams have in different areas of the world. I have my fair share of Liverpool merchandise (my Gerrard jersey being the best bit of merchandise I have) and one day I hope to make the trip to Anfield to watch my team play (hopefully before Gerrard retires).

How did I start supporting the team? Gerrard is a player I admire and respect, the fan base at Liverpool is amazing and passionate, the history of the club is outstanding with the likes of Dalglish, Shankly, and Rush contributing, the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" is powerful and one of the best anthems in the sport. There's also the sad side of the team with the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989. So although I've yet to witness a game at Anfield, I can still happily follow my team from afar and still cheer them on



   
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