Saturday, 15 May 2010

On Being a Football Fan

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, I set off on an epic car journey from London to Hamburg to watch Fulham Football Club play Atletico Madrid in the Europa Cup Final. For those of you that don't know, we lost in the dying minutes of extra time after putting up quite a fight. Since the defeat, I've had a lump in my throat. I can't read the papers, I haven't watched the highlights and I try not to talk about it.

That must sound absolutely ridiculous to those of you that don't follow the Beautiful Game. I feel I should try to explain myself. Firstly, Fulham played their first Europa League game almost a year ago. Since then, it's been a rollercoaster ride of crushing defeats followed by miracle victories with which Roy's Boys fought their way into the final. It's not rare for people to cry at a 90 minute film, with characters who aren't real to whom you've only just been introduced - so I feel justified in having such an emotional reaction to a football match, given that I've followed the players through thick and thin for a ruddy long time.

Secondly, I think there's an almost tribal element to it. It's an amazing feeling watching your team score. When Fulham equalised on Wednesday night I was jumping about like a mad chimp at the zoo. There is an actual sense of belonging that you get by supporting a team, wearing their colours and singing the songs that football's detractors sometimes mock.

I know that many people hate football, and of course everyone is free to hold their own opinions, but to anyone who hasn't experienced a game before, I really recommend it. N grew up in South Africa where football isn't particularly popular and when I first met him he hated it. After a bit of nagging he agreed to come to a game and a year and a bit later he's a diehard Fulham fan. Partly because of his ability to absorb useless information like a sponge, he now knows more about the League than I ever have. And while I was doing my mental-monkey dance, he was busting some similar moves to my right, only in a slightly more macho way.

There's a lot about the game that you'll never know unless you give it a chance. Of course, I can't deny that there are still problems associated with it, but times have changed since the heyday of English football hooliganism, and you'll find most fans share your exasperation with the phenomenal sums of money that regularly change hands between clubs. When next season starts, if you ever find yourself at a loose end on a weekend, put your feelings about hooliganism and adulterous players aside and go to a game. Any game - it might be completely different to what you'd expect. It has just given me one of the best few days of my life.


  1. Hi! Just wanted to say thanks for following my blog. Following you back now too. Have a great day!

  2. Wow. You're really into football. I must admit I was never a sports fan though I cannot say that I hate it. I really don't. A few friends tried to talk me into watching a game (basketball, etc.) and I did watch a few times but hell, I didn't understand them one bit. LOL

  3. Have you ever read Fever Pitch?

    Hornby does capture it quite well. Or maybe that's just 'cos a Gunners man and I'm rather partial.

    I'm nowhere near as big on footy as I used to be in school. But tennis? I have cried over tennis matches... three years after they were played.

  4. yepp i did saw the game of tv.

    roy has done a wonderful job, should be proud of him!