Thursday, January 21, 2010

*** The original version of today’s blog was previously written for our column in last Saturday’s East Fife programme, so apologies to those of you who have already read it. We just wanted to share the sentiment of it to a wider audience too ***

Being a football fan isn’t easy. There’s highs, there’s lows, there’s absolute heartbreaks. I wouldn’t have it any other way! What makes a fan, what type of fan are you and are you a fan of football or a football team fan?

A common debate it would seem on AFTN, and other football forums around the world, is what constitutes you being a “real” fan. It’s something that really annoys the hell out of me to be honest! Who has a right to question another fan’s way of supporting their club?

The reason for my annoyance is that we all support our team in our own way. Not everyone can make it to every match. I know I can’t these days! Some can’t afford to travel away. Some can’t even afford to go to all the home matches in the current financial climate. Some just choose not to go but watch the scores at home. Ah that long chastised armchair supporter.

Then there’s the longevity factor. I’ve read people questioning someone’s fan status because they’ve only been watching their team for a year or two or some similar short period of time. If they’re committed to the Fife cause (or whatever team they support) and their only concern is for them to do well, then so what?

We should be all for attracting new fans, not frightening them away and with football being in the dire state it is these days, every fan and every fan’s opinion merits equal validity in my opinion.

Does booing your team make you a real fan? Does it make you detrimental to the cause and the greater good or have you paid your money and you’re entitled to applaud or criticise in whatever vocal way you choose? I know I’ve certainly booed the team off the pitch over the years. I’m sure most fans have. Does that make me or you any less of a fan?

The thing which got me thinking about all of this was something I read on a non East Fife related football club forum. One poster had a list of four or five teams that he supported around the world in his signature. On an occasion when one of his posts dared to disagree with another poster, someone who had supported this particular team and had lived in the team’s home city for a lot longer, the response he got was curt, hostile and questioned his commitment to the team and the validity of his viewpoint as he was a newbie. It also questioned whether he was a “real” fan as he purported to support more than one team.

The original poster in question had lived all over the world and had watched football in many places, growing attachments to teams the world over in the process. He was what I would call a fan of football. Myself, I consider to be a football fan, in that I follow my team and my country. If that was all the football I ever got to watch then I could quite happily live with that as that’s what I care about most.

Growing up I always thought you could only have your one team, your one true love. Finding myself transported to the other side of the world at the moment I’ve found out that this isn’t in fact the case. You can have really really strong attachments to another team, another love, without feeling that it’s a bad thing. The great thing about it is that the two lovers will never meet so you won’t have to take sides!!

It’s a hard life being a football fan. I didn’t know there were so many rules we were meant to follow to be that “real” fan!

As we move into this new year and new decade, all that’s important is that we all get behind East Fife, Vancouver Whitecaps or whatever team you support. Let’s be a bit more tolerant of each others views. After all we all want the same thing - a successful football club.

Belated Happy New Year everyone. Let’s hope 2010 is a cracker for the Fife and the Caps.
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