Fan culture

As a Luton Town supporter, John Earls knows a thing or two about heavy defeats

Anyone like me who grew up learning to read mainly from football books will probably have gone through a phase of reading too many Rothmans Football Yearbooks, and actually become briefly interested in the game’s statistics. Mine came when I first started going to watch Luton’s games during our 1981-82 promotion season and – subconsciously needing to prepare myself for the grim years ahead – I cooled down after 3-2 wins over QPR by learning as much as I could about the club’s history.

Following on from yesterday's bad Christmas experiences, day 22 of the WSC advent calendar sees us focus on the positives. The festive season always gets us excited about extra football matches and, in issue 131, January 1998, Piers Pennington remembered a great day out

Football at Christmas is all about escaping from the relatives, nursing bloated stomachs and monumental hangovers and showing off those unfortunate new jumpers; and the same goes for the spectators. What you really need, of course is snow (Tromsø v Chelsea reminded us of what it ought to look like); but unless you’re fortunate enough to support Inverness Caley or Carlisle the sight of an orange ball against a sea of white is rare. 

Day 21 of the WSC advent calendar and we're looking at Christmas football. These days it is something to look forward to but, in issue 131, January 1998, Olly Wicken's grandad claimed that this wasn't always the case

I went to my first Christmas game in 1933, at the age of twelve. I’ll never forget it. It was a cold and bright Christmas Day morning (Christmas Day fixtures were the norm in those days). My Christmas stocking was still hanging unopened over the hearth when my father wrapped me up in my muffler, cap and overcoat and walked me along frosty pavements to the ground. Once inside, I was passed over the heads of the crowd down to the front of the terrace. From there I saw the local derby end in a five-all draw. Our inside-left – I forget his name now – scored all five. Then, on Boxing Day afternoon, my father took me to the return match across town, which we won by the odd goal in thirteen, making the aggregate score twelve-eleven over the two days. It was typical of Christmas fixtures back then. Both games were shit.

Never before have women been so interested in football. Anne Coddington thinks that clubs need to realise this quickly

“90% of males are happily married. To eleven men,” say the posters from Carling. Who’d have thought, then, that the fastest growing section of support was actually young women, and that we no longer stand out at football matches like the proverbial sore thumb. Though there’s plenty who still find us more than a minor irritant. “See you’ve brought the wife along,” is still a regular welcome, though that’s enlightened compared to the treatment handed out to female golden goal sellers venturing along the touchline with a modicum of confidence.

A tournament organised by fans and played by fans, with the proceeds going to charity, should have been an ideal way to spend a day in football's off-season. But Phil Mongredien explains how the FA tried to shut it down

The close season: a good time to have a holiday, catch up on friends not seen since last August, or watch Ceefax for that big-money signing promised by the chairman. A good time, too, one would have thought, for a few light-hearted football matches against fans of rival clubs. Well, no, actually. This is the strange tale of how the FA attempted to prevent the staging of a low-profile charity tournament arranged and contested by fans.

John Kirk explains why he intends to seek recompense in the courts for a lifetime of football-related trauma

In issuing proceedings against the FA and claiming compensation for “football trauma” after the now-notorious Mike Reed penalty decision, fans of Leicester City are shooting wide of the goal. Most shock and distress experienced by football fans is visited on them by the clubs to whom they devote their lives and it is the clubs who should be the target of any litigation.

Looking at aspects of maleness and football, Joyce Woolridge explains why the New Lads beloved of the media have little in common with the lads who actually go to watch matches

A few weeks ago at 6am I began a solo train journey from Bristol to Manchester to watch Manchester United lose to Chelsea. I’ve never been to a match alone before, but it happened that this time I was the only one with a ticket. As a solo traveller, I thoroughly expected to observe at first hand some spectacular displays of laddish boorishness, given that football is where the ‘new lads’ are most at home; where they gather to worship the cult of curry, boozing and birds whilst rejecting all standards of decent behaviour. 

Following Mark Bosnich's "Heil Hitler" salute, David Cohen offers an insight into his experience of the joys and perils of being a Jewish football fan

It isn’t often that a major Premier League controversy relates directly to me or those of my faith. Racism and football are nearly always in black and white, while Jewish players in England’s top flight can be named on the thumb of one hand. But ploughing through the acres of newsprint dedicated to Mark Bosnich’s Tottenham wind-up – a harmless bit of fun or a war crime of Adolf Eichmann proportions depending on which paper you read – I felt strangely detached from the proceedings.

For those thinking of going to watch your team at away matches Mike Lambert has compiled this handy guide

I was a teenage Cardiff City fan. There, I’ve said it. Not as astounding as admitting I was involved in the JFK plot or that I voted Tory in ’79 (I didn’t, honest) but enough to earn condescending looks from the rugby fraternity surrounding me. It’s becoming harder, year by year, to remember why I spent so much cash on following the Bluebirds, especially now when City are in their 12th season outside the First (old Second) Division, and away support consists of a few dozen die-hards, outnumbered by police and stewards by a factor of five.

Adam Brown explains why attendances are falling

The empty seats at the FA Cup Semi- Finals and the fiasco – there is no other word for it – of Euro ’96 ticket sales, suggest that our clubs and the FA can’t go much further down the track of hiking up the prices without the embarrassing rows of empty seats becoming a regular feature of our football. Football now is too expensive and in danger of losing touch with reality.

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