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October 2016
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What does it mean to be a football supporter?

By Tony Attwood

In a recent article Blacksheep asked, What is wrong with football.   I was re-reading this and found myself asking “what is wrong with football supporters?”

I found myself asking why commentators on this site sometimes find it necessary to write, “if you think x you are an idiot,” where x is fairly obviously, whatever that person doesn’t agree with.

I suppose I came back to this following the story that ten fans were arrested for pulling down notices at Tottenham’s ground.  I don’t condone any violence of this type, and I really wish they hadn’t done it.  Because it has nothing to do with my view of what it is like to be a supporter.

But what it does do is emphasise the notion that we are all so different – we behave in different ways, we are different people.  Only a total idiot would dream of suggesting we are all the same.

However the media keep up the game that we are all the same.  It won’t be long before we have someone saying there is extra security at Leicester this weekend because of Arsenal fans’ reputation.

This coming weekend I shall go to Leicester as an away supporter, and won’t get engaged in violence.  There seems no point, and no need.  But if some turnip has read the media report and expects trouble, then they really are being incredibly dim.  We shall see.

So if that is the dark side of supporting, what is it like to be a supporter faced by the insanely warped messaging of the media which is picked up by supporters of all clubs and which tries to make people think the same way.

I have to admit however it works sometimes.

I was talking to a Man U fan this afternoon – a perfectly civil conversation – and he reiterated the old “you were the only club not to buy an outfield player” and I had to explain that we had bought Gabriel in January, and since then introduced Bellerin and Coquelin – two stunningly brilliant players.  That Theo was coming on as a centre forward and could soon be one of the most extraordinary centre forward players in the league.  But like many Arsenal fans he was fixed on the notion that if you don’t buy then you are not serious.  He’d read the story in the press so he knew it was true.  Arsenal’s problem was the lack of purchases.

Let’s take another point.  Arsenal are fifth and are doing badly.  Barcelona of course are doing well, and will be up there at the top or at least second this year.

I had this discussion the other day, so I said, “where are Barcelona at the moment?”  My friend didn’t know.  So I emailed him a league table from Spain.

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Real Madrid 5 13 13
2 Celta Vigo 5 8 13
3 Villarreal 5 7 13
4 Atlético 5 7 12
5 Barcelona 5 3 12
6 Espanyol 5 -5 9
7 Eibar 5 2 8
8 Rayo Vallecano 5 -3 7
9 Valencia 5 0 6
10 Deportivo La Coruna 4 1 5
La Liga

Yep, Barcelona are fifth with a pretty modest goal difference.  Just like, oh, who is it, that north London team that is going nowhere…

The problem is, that there is no end to the garbage.  Let me offer you this from one little blogetta.

Arsene Wenger reaches the end of his time

Oh bugger.  No one told me.  He’s out is he?  Oh, actually no he’s not.  It is just an opinion stated as a headline.  I read the article, but it really didn’t tell me how or why.  It was just based on a 2014 Daily Telegraph article “Arsene Wenger is making a powerful case for his departure …”

Yes, winning the FA Cup two years running and he is making a powerful case for his departure.

The problem is that the blogetta (Give me Sport) and the Telegraph are both wanting to tell us that they know how the future will unfold, and what people are thinking.

They also like to cast us all as the same boat.   But we are not.  There are those who tore down Tottenham slogans on their stadium, and those of us who didn’t.

Arsene Wenger faces yet more criticism over transfer window inaction

That’s another from the same source.  Yes, he did get criticised, but mostly by the blogettas like Give Me Sprouts (sorry, couldn’t resist) and their fellow travellers creating stories to back up their own previous stories which back up…

The point is that we don’t all think the same way.  We are as independent as anyone else – and so what it means to be a supporter is to be in a world in which people keep on saying “you think this, you will do this” when in fact we don’t.

If there is a writer on football who actually possess the extraordinary telepathic ability that he/she proclaims I have yet to find that person.   And when I see “Arsenal fans will be unhappy that…” these days I just turn off.  (Mind you I did have a huge laugh at the person who wrote in here telling me I had no knowledge of business matters – I am a director of four companies – and I am obviously a Conservative.   Two of my mates who know my politics nearly had to be rushed to hospital on reading that, they were laughing so much).

So it shouldn’t be

Arsene Wenger reaches the end of his time

it should be

Give Me Sport reaches the end of its time

These commentators have passed their sell by date.  We all grew up long ago.  We’re big boys now.  Stop treating us like we are still naughty teenagers at secondary school.

What’s it like to be a supporter?  It is like being insulted and treated as an idiot day after day after day after day.  And really I am getting a bit pissed off with it.

40 comments to What does it mean to be a football supporter?

  • ob1977

    Also not condoning any violence, but I maintain that these things happen in no small part due to anger, aggression, and attitude that people bring to a game knowing that the powers at be are screwing us over at least every other match, a big/not so big f*%k you…

  • nicky

    On one of the last occasions I attended a match at Highbury with my wife, we had front row seats in the East Stand. My wife noticed her seat had been slashed by either an extremely sharp knife or razor.
    We both wondered why someone would go to a sporting occasion, armed with an offensive weapon.
    On the subject of Arsene being criticised over the absence of signings during the recent Window opening, it’s about time people accepted that supporters know nothing about the action behind the scene. Transfers may have been near to fruition only to stall at the last minute for a variety of reasons.
    Failed medicals, unacceptable personal terms, family refusals to move….the list is endless. All kept confidential for one reason or another.
    Arsenal FC have always been loath to release details of new signings until pen has been put to paper.
    That’s the Arsenal way and we simply have to put up with it. 😉

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    I am more worried on the ball that twice went past Ospina into goal than to over worry myself on the unfortunate incident of tearing down a section of the Spurs adds hoardings by a section of the Arsenal fans. While any law abiding citizen will not condone any act of vandalism, it is worth remembering that, the Spuds started the fiasco as they sang a song aganist the Boss’ matrimonial affairs which the Gooners took as a form of instigations against them. And they later reacted physically after the game. I think both group of fans should desist from any form of instigations against themselves in future. I think Chambers should learn to defend better than to be deflecting the ball into his own goal. He should have stepped the ball down and control it. And Harry Kane’s offside goal that beat Ospina may be given in another day by a different linesman whose flag may stay down. Therefore, Ospina should learn to parry a shot he can’t hold to corner touch instead of parring it to the opponent.

  • Menace

    The simple truth is that many who read newspapers believe them as gospel. That is why we get the governments that we do. That is why we get the behaviour in sport that we do. That is why there is a long line of migrants wanting to share in the wealth & society that we have created.

    Only problem is that we allow so much freedom. That is why we get abused from within. That is why the stability will be wrecked in the next few years.

  • Gord

    OT: Bringing myself up to date on the loanees, might as well write here too in case you want an update as well

    Sep 17, Szczesny out for up to 6 weeks after dislocating finger playing against Barcelona.

    Sanogo nowhere to be seen in Ajax-Celtic game.

    Crowley did not feature in Barnsley’s game against Blackpool. He has been scouted by Ireland and may be called up.

    Akpom came on at 81 minutes against Cardiff. He was fouled twice (second foul was a yellow), had a shot, made a foul. Hayden did make the bench. Akpom was a 65min substitute in the game against QPR, with Hayden on the bench all game. Akpom made a foul. Akpom played the 90 agains Swansea, while Hayden started and played 85 minutes. Akpom had a shot, was fouled once.

    Jenkinson WHam – Jenkinson came off the bench at 42min against Newcastle. Assisted a shot. Started against ManCity and played 85min. Some kind of injury at 77min, which he doesn’t recover from. Started and played the 90 against Leicester.
    Gnabry WBrom – Was on the bench against Villa, but didn’t play. Did not feature against Norwich.

    Maitland-Niles Ipswich – Started and played 84min against Leeds. Made a cross, was fouled (2), shot 1. Started in the game against Birmingham for 80min, whereas Toral didn’t get off the bench for Birmingham. Made a cross, assisted a shot from a set piece (twice), draws a penalty which is converted by someone else, has a shot (2), fouled someone. He made the bench for the game against ManU, but didn’t feature.
    Martinez Wolves – Played the 90 against Brighton and Hove. He kept a clean sheet facing 19 shots with 8 on target. Saved a penalty in the 22 minute, and a followup on the rebound (hang onto that ball young man 🙂 ). Wolves had a player dismissed 3 minutes into second half. He was fouled once in open play (actually 3 times). Martinez was on the bench for the entire game against Middlesbrough.
    Toral Birmingham – Started against Forest, and played 69min. Assisted a shot. Booked but no reason given. Shot. Toral stayed on the bench against Ipswich. Came on as a substitute in the 66min against Aston Villa. Assisted a shot. Had two fouls in extra time. Birmingham medja are starting to say that Toral is careless at times.
    Silva Bolton – Played the 90 against Sheffield Wednesday. Was fouled (2, second was yellow), had a shot (2). Started against Huddersfield and played 63min. Assisted a shot
    Zelalem Rangers – Zelalem played the 90 against Dumbarton. Was fouled. Started and played 75 against St.Johnstone. Has a shot, fouled someone, was fouled, assisted a goal.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Is it a character thing or perhaps it’s just that when a person gets really attached to a club every loss feels like the end of the world? Whatever, but it doesn’t seem particularly healthy.

    On the other hand are people who are insanely attached to a club REALLY important to a club? What I mean is, do they contribute an INSANE (disproportionate) amount of money to the club in the form of tickets and club merchandise? Are they the ones that keep the club relevant in society?

    Personally, I find that over the top behaviour a mite embarrassing and unrefined but if the answers are yes, then the club and league would want to encourage this behaviour. No? Oh, we talk about banning racists, homophobes and violent supporters but on the other hand we are encouraging HUGE amounts of betting on the sport and there are still some pretty edgy chants out there. Just some thoughts.

  • bjtgooner

    I had the opportunity today to make a point to someone from the media about the way Arsenal matches and the Arsenal Club were covered & also how ref mistakes were on occasion ignored. I don’t expect any response from this contact, but it was a start.

    As you all would expect, I was extremely diplomatic! 🙂

  • Guudmon

    What’s it like to be a supporter? It is like being insulted and treated as an idiot day after day after day after day. And really I am getting a bit pissed off with it…thanks for the write up.. This is what we get for supporting the real football instead of fancy football

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Supporting a football club should always be about pleasure , passion and pride . There is no place for prejudice , violence , hatred and any other unbecoming and unacceptable behaviour .
    If football is no longer fun , or too painful or too traumatic for you , it’ll be better, and timely ,to move on to other pursuits or hobbies .
    Good natured ribbing and mickey taking is fine , but never ever cross to the dark side. After all it still is a sport and an art .
    While I have a very low threshold for ignorant and stupid people , I still refrain from attacking them . Poking fun at them is way ,way much more satisfying !

  • apo Armani

    September 25, 2015 at 12:57 am

    “…on the other hand we are encouraging HUGE amounts of betting on the sport and there…”

    On this point; before out Spud game, I went to the store, the oner (know only too well I am an Arsenal supporter), asked me my thoughts coz he had a bet on the game, I told him it won’t be a walk but we will get through…his answer “NOOO I mean do you think there will be many cards…? I have bet on cards!!!” Then I thought of Dean.

    How easy is the for a ref to FIX!

  • apo Armani

    apologies above comment was in relation to: GoingGoingGooner
    September 24, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Not bjtgooner 🙂 🙂

  • Brickfields Gunners

    “It’s not your wallet or your purpose that makes you rich or poor; it’s your character.” Woodrow Wilson

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ apo – I think that you may have stumbled on to something there. Since our UA ref reviews appear to be fairly accurate ( and almost as close to PGLMOB ref figures !) on predicting each referee’s proclivity ( ok, bentness !) with the cards against our team , maybe we could get people to bet on it and wipe the grin off those bookies faces ?
    I am sure that the said referee will be visited by ‘interested ‘ parties and made to mend his ways ? They’d probably make him an offer he couldn’t very well refuse !

  • apo Armani


    Yes I am of the opinion that these ‘variable’ bets are what can be another game FIXING method, where refs seemingly did the ‘correct’ thing.

    Corners, cards, first goal, half time score, who will be sent off!!! all easy enough for a bent ref to FIX.

  • apo Armani

    I am not sure what revenue (through the lottery board) actually comes back into football from these betting systems…if any at all – would certainly seem that betting takes a massive amount out of football both in revenue and integrity!

    Wherever there is betting there is guaranteed corruption!

  • para

    A supporter will always bring his/her character to the game, this is how it goes. A violent, racist, aggressive character will produce violence aggression and racism at the game.

    I actually shudder to think what they may have done if we had lost the game!

    ” That is why there is a long line of migrants wanting to share in the wealth & society that we have created. ”

    You are obviously not aware that the policies of the western world is what causes/is causing the bigger part of the problems in the rest of the world? From the insidious rape of resources and wars caused to destabalise and destroy the infrastructure of those countries, allowing Western corporations to come in and “rebuild” thereby gaining easy access to the resources. Constant abuse usually causes return abuse some where along the line.

    Football has become a media spectacle. The very clear differences between the organisation of refs and the organisation of clubs/players will in the end cause the divisive problems we are seeing, inviting corruptions and manipulations to take place.

    It is almost like building a house on a platform(the PL) supported by one single column(the refs) and hoping that it will support it for ever. This is either pure stupidity or a calculated decision.

  • Mike T

    Not often I agree with you Tony but in relation to the point about football and the behaviour , or poor behaviour I applaud your comments

    The vast vast majority of those that follow all clubs are decent well behaved human beings that contribute to society and spend their hard earned money to support their team and yes it is their team. It’s one of the reasons I find it hard to take comments that condem a club or its supporters based on the despicable actions of a very small minority

    I like you travel not only to home games but also a significant number of away games and it is those away games where the bulk of issues seem to crop up.

    From our huge problems at CL away games to the incident at WHL I am sure many could go into justifying how supporters behave due to such things as facilities, conditions, policing etc but what is interesting is that very few incidents now happen inside the ground itself which suggest to me it’s more to do with not wanting to be identified as opposed to being forced into illegal acts. I neither wear colours, chant obscenities or associate with large groups of supporters at away games and yet have been man handled by police, had coins and bottles thrown at me the irony is that majority of those incidents have happened in Manchester and Birmingham as opposed to London where other than once, at WHU most have been very very minor at hardly worth a mention

    All of that makes it very strange that the mindless few who carried out the act of vandalism at WHL for surely realised they would be caught on camera and with it there really can neither be any defence nor can they really moan when they get banning orders and whatever the law of the land deems appropriate

  • Menace

    @para – ‘created’ covers the abuse of overseas territories.

  • Menace

    apo Armani – no revenue from betting but many betting companies sponsor teams in football.

    The ‘added’ betting markets are very lucrative & many make a good income from them specially with in play betting.

    Fans & supporters should not be mixed up with hooligans. The hooligans are not supporters but tag on to football to promote their own agendas. A few years back Holland played England in Wembley. The gates were broken & hordes piled into the ground. Many of these were hooligans from oop north looking for a ‘bit of aggro’. The crush on the people in the seats was dangerous so I very carefully left before the game had passed its first half hour. The police were helpless. They couldn’t cope with the volume of behaviour.

  • apo Armani

    para to the comment of menace:

    “You are obviously not aware that the policies of the western world is what causes/is causing the bigger part of the problems in the rest of the world? From the insidious rape of resources and wars caused to destabalise and destroy the infrastructure of those countries, allowing Western corporations to come in and “rebuild” thereby gaining easy access to the resources. Constant abuse usually causes return abuse some where along the line.”

    Whilst agree with almost all of the comments menace makes, the one that provoked your above answer has me seconding your reply! I too believe that is due to the Western Foreign policy “to develop” other “3rd world countries” and bring them in line with the West thats caused all this terrible unrest in the Middle East and Africa. If we had kept out of their countries, did not sell them directly or indirectly heavy weapons, did not race their natural resources (as the case may be), did not execute their leaders (because they apparently did not fit the profile of the west)…maybe and I believe quite possibly this mass exodus from these countries into Europe would have been avoided.

    Many of these refugees are families running like hell to get out of the hell we created!!

  • Menace

    para / apo Armani – lets not take this further into politics. I probably started it but didn’t mean to. I was pointing to media & its effects. I agree with your views as far as cause & effect of interference & arms sales in foreign countries.

    Back to the ball game. Some of our ‘supporters’ at the Lane were badly behaved. The problems arise out of poor policing & detention after the match. There should be no detention but good policing. Why should Arsenal fans have to be delayed because of opponent hooligans? The detained behaviour is not unexpected. Lock a puppy in a room & observe its behaviour. It is very similar(unacceptable in humans but similar). Detention is not accepted by free spirits easily.

  • Gord

    One sometimes has to wonder about the pictures of football that are out there, and their effect on fans and supporters. The lead page at Arsenal has this picture of Bellerin, with the caption: “September 25, 2013: Bellerin makes his Arsenal debut”.

    This is so obviously a foul, with the opponent wrapping his legs around Bellerin, coming in from the side. Did the referee call this a foul? Did he hand out a yellow card, as he probably should have?

    But what is in the head of the opponent? It is Bellerin’s first game for Arsenal, he might as well try to end his career? There is very little chance this kind of collision is accidental.

  • apo Armani

    September 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    😉 😉

  • apo Armani

    September 25, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    That is exactly what I thought when looked at the nasty scissors-tackle on Bellerin…how he want seriously injured there I don’t know. Its got ligament damage written allover it!!

  • Gord

    No noise yet at The FA about Gabriel.

  • apo Armani

    Yes Gord; no word and so it should be!!

    The FA should focus on Dean…thats the route of the problem at this game and in general.

    Glad to note the petition is going strong on the 6th day side going ‘out there’ and plugging over 97K!!

  • apo Armani

    >since not side 🙂

  • Menace

    Gord, apo Armani -The FA are not going to look at their own hands that are dirty. They know what filth they have been playing with. The PGMO is their creation & is their dna. They will not be rational, they don’t know honesty.

  • Gord

    It seems Arsenal has another partner, “Dashen Brewery for the company to become their official beer partner in Ethiopia”. Anyone here familiar with this beer?

  • Vintage Gooner

    I also would wish not to condone violence or vandalism and so will condemn such incidents at WHL.

    However in mitigation for a very long time now there has been a really nasty atmosphere in which you can really feel the antipathy and belligerence particularly from the home fans. Tim Stillman has a post elsewhere that very well describes how this alarming malevolence is still completely true now.

    Further I also feel that when you place away fans and pen them in behind your very confrontational banners then if they can be reached and pulled off easily then that may be what you should expect to happen. There may be a case for Arsenal to consider offering a few thousand £ towards making good although equally our fans were charged much more than if Spurs would have been at the Emirates so perhaps not!

  • Andy Mack

    One of the issues is that many people don’t have any understanding of a ‘team dynamic’.
    They assume that every player actually plays to his best in the ‘uniform’ position of a xxxx (xxxx being a left winger or CM or RB or whatever). Having less kids playing organised football = less people managing at that level (and many of the ones that do, do it because it’s their kids, not because they know what they’re doing). The kids that do play don’t care about the team, they care about their mates and the results, so they don’t understand why a team is good or bad. That goes all the way up the age levels now. But they all know how a team works because they play computer games where team mate relationships are non-existent…… So some idiot is the best in his computer football league (sorry, no idea what the correct names are for these things) and suddenly he can write a blog spouting shite about needing transfers. His view is reinforced by some low IQ ex player that needs to talk drivel so his opinion is printed and he earns.
    Does that mean everyone else doesn’t want any new faces, No it doesn’t but equally it doesn’t mean the manager is clueless or us supporters are suicidal or that we’ll be relegated at the end of the season.
    Unfortunately the days of logic and understanding are becoming a distant memory and the idiots will soon rule everything, then they’ll smash it to pieces because it went wrong once but non of them will know how to put anything back together again, because it’s not their job……….
    Really really fucking depressing!

  • Andy Mack

    Should say “plays to his best in the ‘uniform’ position of a xxxx irrespective of the players around him”

  • Gord

    There is not a lot of information on the web about the Dashen Brewery. It seems that they do sponsor a football club. In the past, it is likely that most (all?) of the players would be employees, but there was no comment on this at Wikipedia. Only 4 of the players listed have pages themselves. RateBeer has 1 page on Dashen, which probably covers more than one beer (I’m guessing). It would seem their beer is not remarkable in any way. Maybe Arsenal can bring them into contact with a brewmaster to pick up the quality of their beer? I did run across a page about someone who toured Ethiopia mostly from a beer point of view. Ethiopa seems to have quite a few different breweries. Again, Dashen didn’t get much of a comment.

    Teff is a grain (smallest grain on Earth I believe) native to the region. I have used it to make bread, and it is considerably darker than dark rye. There are discussions on using teff to make beer. Among the more interesting (commentable) is:

    I think more physicists need to brew beer. Assuming the materials making up a grain are more or less independent of size and distributed about the same for all grains, it would be reasonable to think that teff would take considerably less time to sprout than larger grains. The above web page, mentions that teff will grow into cloth used in sprouting it. Coconut coir has a large ability to absorb water, I wonder if maybe putting a layer of Tyvek (Tm) or similar house wrap fabric on top of damp coconut coir might not work for sprouting teff. Water vapour should pass through a house wrap, but not water. But, as I have never tried to make a beer, this is a guess.

    Lots of people try to use temperatures less than 175, and end up using an oven. A good heat source for low temperature work is an incandescent light bulb (most of the energy is initially released as heat, and the remainder (light) can be turned into heat. Hence, a 40W light bulb turns into a 40W heat source. Put the bulb inside a black maze, and for air through it, and you have the start of a 40W convection oven. Set up a low temperature controller to turn the bulb on/off.

    The page above is malting. The next step is the mashing, and it was May of 2015 where I found it in the blog. As of August 2015, there are no continuations on this experiment (making teff beer).

  • Gord

    I gather Iwobi has decided to play for Nigeria at the senior level.

    The U21 play (away) at Wolves tonight (7pm British Time, which is 1.25 hours away?). They are currently in first (in their division of U21?), with no points lost yet. The game is at the Telford United home ground. It looks like the main Arsenal twitter feed will have comments, I don’t know if there is any other coverage.


    The Ladies play (away) at Sunderland on Saturday (6:30pm British Time). This game will have coverage on the ArsenalLadies twitter feed.


  • Menace

    apo Armani – The league used to get a fee for Football pools companies that used their data. Horse Racing also get a fee. I do not think there is a fee for the use of football stats in betting anymore. It should exist & should be in the hundreds of millions to stop the practice. Not possible in this greedy world of low morals.

    I hope the cheats in football are getting scared – very scared.

    Can you hear me FA & PGMO?

  • Gord

    The U21 game is about 10 minutes in, as of 7 minutes there was no score. For the Young Gunners we have:

    starting XI: Macey, Moore, Bola, Kamara, Bielik, Pleguezuelo, Iwobi, Sheaf, Mavididi, Hinds, Willock
    subs: Mourgos, Huddart, Chatzitheodoridis, Robinson, Eyoma

  • Gord

    Half time: 1-2 to Arsenal.

    Wolves open scoring at 20min. Willock equalizes at 23. Mavididi puts us ahead on 34 minutes.

  • Gord

    Arsenal/Liam Brady open Islington football centre.

    In the U21 game, Iwobi scored another followed by Wolves scoring, to end the game 2-3 to Arsenal.