The Falsity of the ‘True’ Fan
There are many things about modern football that are infuriating: inflated ticket prices, jobsworth stewarding, diving, greed and a distinct lack of loyalty from players who live in their own bubble, refusing to acknowledge those who idolise them.
What grates the most, though, is the abhorrent idea of there being such a thing as a ‘true’ fan.
The ‘true’ fan, they would have you believe, is somebody who gives their club unwavering support no matter what. However, such idiocy lacks fundamental logic. Clearly, everything cannot be rosy within the garden of your club all of the time. There are problems which cannot be brushed under the carpet without so much as a passing glance or a flicker of worry.
Put simply, the ‘true’ fan either has their head stuck in the clouds or buried in the sand, leaving the manager and players immune from criticism and anyone who dares to say a bad word about either might as well not bother supporting the club. You could try and get them started on people who boo the team but they can’t hear you from their place atop the moral high ground.
The most vital quality of the ‘true’ fan is, undoubtedly, attendance at matches. Going to the game is, more often than not, dictated by circumstance – for some, is a necessity; for others, it is a luxury. Times are hard and, given the aforementioned hike in ticket prices, football will have had to take a back seat for some people.
By the same token, are those who are exiled in places like Korea, Australia and America for family or work any less of a fan than those who live a stone’s throw away from the ground because they don’t manage to get to the game? Of course not, and to suggest that this is the case is utter lunacy. It still happens, mind.
The internet has also given a new platform for the ‘true’ fan to lord themselves over the rest of us, the plastics. Thanks to Twitter, the ‘true’ fans can tell the players that they’re going to games. It is of the utmost important not to forget that a trip to an away game is not valid unless you’ve told every member of the playing squad on Twitter that you were there: “RT for me and the boys travelling down to Bournemouth? #banter #yolo #truefan” is something you see every week, repeated ad nauseam. This nonsense must stop but it shows no sign of abating.
Merchandising, too, has become compulsory for the ‘true’ fans. Thus, their conspicuous consumption is something which clubs invariably take advantage of, bringing out a new kit each year is guaranteed to reel in a few thousand people. It’s akin to a feeding frenzy: give them something fresh and the ‘true’ fans will be snapping it up faster than you can blink. Alarm clock? Got it. Garden gnome? Got one. Car mats? You betcha. The list is close to incessant and the ‘true’ fans have got it all, because the more merchandise you own, the bigger a fan you are, right?
You can make a case for Sky having to take a great deal of responsibility for the birth of the ‘true’ fan. After all, it is they who paint the picture of an adult sat in their seat wearing their replica shirt, hat, scarf and coat whilst eating a half-cooked pie and drinking warm Coke. Perhaps this is the case in their utopian world but the reality couldn’t be further away from the grotesque monster that they depict.
In essence, going to more shit games than the person sat next to you doesn’t make you a better fan. Having the club badge or motto tattooed onto you doesn’t make you a better fan. Owning more official club merchandise doesn’t make you a better fan. No supporter is better than another and no amount of attempted one-upmanship will be dissuasive otherwise.
Ultimately, all of the griping is futile, for an idiot will forever be just that: an idiot. The ‘true’ fans will always deem themselves to be superfans and we, those less fortunate, are left to wallow in our own self-pity for not making that journey to Yeovil to see a 2-0 defeat without registering a shot on target.
Maybe, belatedly, we will one day realise that the best solution is to not support a team at all…