Passion passion passion. Ra ra ra. Best supporters of the best league in the world! Blah blah blah.
This is a quick paraphrase of the same claptrap we see and hear put out by fans all the time. Though this weekend we had another example of football fans debasing themselves in order to “get one over” their rivals. The saddest element of this is that it didn’t even happen in senior match, it was a youth cup game. I mean Christ all mighty. A youth game! Yet we still hear about the same old Munich comments, or Hillsborough comments, or Heysel comments. Both sets of fans should be ashamed, and I’m not talking just about those that took part in these pathetic acts but also ones who just stand by and let it happen. This is a game. A GAME. Yet its deemed acceptable for grown men or maturing boys to mock the dead.
It raises the question. Do football supporters need to feel like they belong so much that they will debase and defame themselves to do so?
One could theorise that subconsciously football fans act out in this pathetic behaviour because they like to have the safety net of feeling like they belong to something. Of course you can belong to a footballing community without resorting to belittle the dead, and if you can find a way of letting these knuckle dragging idiots know that then please leave answers on a postcard.
Perhaps its just human nature. A genuine need to feel like you belong, to feel accepted. We repeat the actions of our forefathers as we naively believe that it has become part of some pathetic heritage and that keeping this heritage alive will allow us to be accepted into this holy brotherhood.
A survey taken out by the English FA in 2001 showed that those most likely to be involved in hooligan or anti-social football behaviour where from the socio-economic group between the ages of 24-40, unmarried and with no children. 24-40 should really be the time in which you are starting to settle down, form a family make those connections that will, hopefully, help to set-up a stable and happy life. Does this lack of family life, this perhaps lack of personal belonging push these men to finding solace and comfort in belonging in other areas, so perhaps getting involved with unsavory behaviour such as this?
In recent weeks we have also seen the Old Firm derby being spoiled, yet again, by the acts of the few. Yet again you can feel the notions of outside influences being bred into fan mentality. The religious divide between the clubs is clearly troublesome, the fact that there are still single faith schools which will essentially, between the school boys at least, start to ingrain within there minds a misguided hate based upon something not related to the game.
God knows what can be done to fix these problems. Probably nothing. Sadly the only thing that briefly brings fans together nowadays is some tragedy, which in turn probably becomes the butt of a joke a week later. The City of Liverpool was obviously shocked by the tragic shooting of Rhys Jones back in 2007 and both clubs and sets of supporters put on a strong show of solidarity. One particularly impressive move from Liverpool FC was playing Z-Cars at Anfield (Rhys was an Evertonian and Everton comes out to Z-Cars for those not in the know). The following season I heard fans making a mockery of the same event. If even the shooting of a mere child can be turned back around to score points and rile-up other fans then it makes you question why you even bother.
Don’t get me wrong, rivalry is a fantastic thing. It makes victories more sweet, it makes discussions more vibrant. Banter, and what it should be, not the Richard Keys interpretation of it, is often the lifeblood of the stands. When one set of fans can make the rivals laugh with a chant they start then it’s a wonderful thing. Sadly more often than not we see the flipside of the coin. It’s just a shame that it’s always the idiots that shout loudest.