15 juli 2007

What makes a supporter

Tid publicerad på Chelsea Vital.


Every so often an opinion flares up that really annoys me.

The thought that people actually can imagine themselves being better supporters than others because of different things. That is a truly pathetic viewpoint as valid as racism and other hatecrimes. And sometimes even supporters of the same team think they are better than others…

The most tragic illusion of all supporter issues is one that our visitors, especially from the other London-clubs claim all the time. That you are a glory hunter if you support a certain team, let us call them Chelsea. It is an argument as valid as the one that the world is flat. And believe me, there are still people out there claiming that to be a fact!

A successful and popular team will always attract new supporters. Chelsea had a spell in the late 60`s and early 70`s that attracted a lot of supporters. So I am a true glory hunter because I started to love Chelsea then. Since then, I have had some 20-30 years that brought me very little glory but quite a lot of pain. Today we attract more new supporters than any other club, and blockheads try to shame them by calling them gloryhunters. Pathetic and envious as they are.

The best clubs will always attract more supporters, it is simply a fact of life. Chelsea does, especially internationally. We even do it without having to bring in Asian, Russian or American players to attract Beckham-effects. Sell shirts and shorts.

Just like, just about everyone that supports Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham are or have been gloryhunters one time or another.

None of these clubs would have more supporters than Stoke, Wolves, Sunderland had not the clubs been successfull at times in their history. They would all be tiny little clubs with no history, no fans and such - had they not attracted new fans because they were succesful. Success bring supporters, and real supporters stay. Fake ones might change, but to be honest people like that are not to be called supporters, they are like pop groupies. Of course they are today buying their maybe titles, like Liverpool and Manchester United out-spending every other club…

(An exception to the rule is of course those lucky ones that had fathers/families that introduced them to excellence, taking them to the Bridge as kids. As football was in pre-historic times - only a local thing). Today Chelsea do not belong only to SW6, Chelsea FC belongs to the world.

Non-successful clubs might attract local support, not much more. And of course losers that love their own image of losers. It is a bit like if I watch a game that does not involve Chelsea (or a team I despise) I will always root for the small team, the underdog. Which is a lovely trait, but has nothing to do with being a supporter. It just makes watching the game more interesting.

Other supporters, especially in England, think they are better because they make a lot of noise during the games, especially singing songs that supposedly belong to the club - however many clubs claim You`ll never walk alone is their song.

I can not see someone singing songs as being a better supporter. I do like them for bringing atmosphere and noise to the arena. Personally I can`t remember the lyrics to Happy Birthday.

In Italy and Sweden supporters also spent time and fortune on tifos, something a bit more unusual in England. That is also a lovely thing to see at the arena. Still when Chelsea places flags in an effort to get more tifo, then of course other teams tries to ridicule it instead of adapting the custom to further enhance the atmosphere.

Seeing games live supposedly makes better supporters. Yeah, if you are so lucky that you actually come from the place near where your team play, then it is great and I envy you a lot. Football today is an expensive pastime, in particular when you have to travel a long way or a really long way it gets to be extremely expensive. I still believe you can support a team as strong as anyone, even if you only get to watch them on television. That costs a nice sum too that the Premiership gives away to its clubs.

An example; there is a guy I know that have travelled many times to watch Chelsea play. He has the opportunity. He`s a great supporter. Is he a better supporter because he writes his travellogs and tells us which number game he watched, how many beers he drank and how he sang with his buddies - but hardly ever mentions the game at all!?

To me the football is the important thing, how my team play, who they play and what their performance brings me. Today they bring me glory, and I love it. I love every trophy, every victory and don`t dare talk to me if we should lose a game. Safety time has been established to be at least 24 hours. The fewer of those disappointments the better my team makes me feel. But is has nothing to do with my support, it is there all the time.

I follow Chelsea religiously some might say. I would never be that flip, my interest in Chelsea is way beyond religion. It is faith, hope and some 40 weeks a year it provides me with emotional responses of every kind. The rest of the year they provide me with something to speculate on, to guess about and of course, always to boast about. (Though I have been caught out being silent).

To me there is no better supporter of Chelsea than anyone else. We are all supporters. Some are luckier than others that geography, pecuniar matters and such things we can not really control make it possible for them to support more in person.

We are all Chelsea supporters, none better, none worse than anyone else. Together we support our team in good and bad. Even if bad is not really an option right now. Harder times might come, and as a supporter they are just there to endure (like not winning the league despite being the bestest club ever…in 17 years…) You take the small gratifications life gives on the way - and being that lot use up all your bile and vitriolic stench.

Being a Chelsea supporter simply is the best. There is nothing greater on earth than being a Chelsea supporter. And nothing or nobody can take that away from us. We are all Chelsea supporters.

(The others, well they support another team and have to find their own happiness!)



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