What defines being a good or bad football fan?
October 31, 2012 in Features
Something on social networking site Twitter caught my eye as I scanned through my timeline. It was a tweet from a journalist to another user describing Reading’s stadium and fans as the worst in the country; their reasoning behind this came from the other user’s tweet lamenting the fact that there is the famous “Darts” music after we score a goal. For the record, I don’t like it, I think it ruins the atmosphere after a goal, but hey, I don’t run the club so I do not get to make decisions on what happens at the game, I just get on with enjoying a goal. But because we have this music, does that make us the worst fans in the country? It is a laughable opinion, as is that the Madejski Stadium is the worst ground in England. Those who have been to Loftus Road and the New Den will confirm this. But it got me thinking, what is the factor that determines whether a team’s fans are good or bad?
A lot of people lament Wigan for having lots of empty seats at the DW Stadium, and that they barely bring what could be considered an away support to rival grounds. But does this make them bad fans? Not to me. Wigan isn’t the most affluent of areas and following the Premier League is vastly expensive, so people might not be able to afford to go to the home games; this certainly rules out going to away games, where fans get charged a fortune for poor seats, not to mention the travelling costs of getting to opposing teams’ grounds. Newcastle are regarded to have the best fans because they regularly pack their away end, no matter where they are playing, but then, they are a bigger club than the likes of Wigan and as such have more fans to go to the games.
Then you have the people who moan that there is no atmosphere at some home grounds. The Emirates is famed for being deathly quiet during Arsenal home games. So far this season I have been to Chelsea, West Brom, Liverpool and QPR, and can say that the noise level wasn’t great at any of these stadiums, but the fans are still there, supporting their team. A lot of football chants are explicit and football is a family game, so you can be forgiven for people not singing along with certain songs.
So what makes a good football fan then? For me, there are a few key things that I think determines it. First and foremost, they have to have a good attitude, and by that, I mean friendly and positive. What I love most about going to Reading games are the opposition fans that I meet. I have had some great discussions with various teams fans in the last few years. Probably the best have been Cardiff and Coventry, whose supporters were friendly, discussed ours and their team’s strengths and weaknesses, and after the game were positive about the result.
Secondly, you have to be gracious in defeat, which also ties into being positive. I don’t mind the odd moan here or there – criticism is part and parcel of life and also being British – but some of the opinions you see or hear are just laughable. This is just from my own experience, but it seems Liverpool fans are the worst at this, there seems to be a belief that there is always a conspiracy against them and that they deserve to win every game they play – a sense of realism is important.
Overall, I don’t think you can say one team has a better set of fans than another. Every club has different fans, from different backgrounds and different parts of the country. We are all united in our love of the beautiful game, and while you do come across a few idiots every now and then, most people you meet at games, in the pub or wherever, are good fans.