My first memories of being a football fan, or football supporter date back to the 1974 F.A. Cup Final Liverpool v Newcastle, with Liverpool winning 3-0, from that moment a long & not always fruitful love affair started, many times over the subsequent years that were to follow there would be many occasions when I felt that my love was not reciprocated, but never did I walk away, in the words of our anthem, she Liverpool Football Club would not walk alone.
So who did try to kill the genuine football fan, there are many suspects for us to consider, many who have motive, and many more who have no alibi as to where they were or what devious deeds they were up to when the crime was committed.
I remember my first hero Kevin Keegan, I loved Keegan and would not hear of anyone putting him down or speaking ill of Keegan, I was a child still at this stage, but in those days we supported our heroes unflinchingly, they were Gods with feet of clay and could do no wrong, blind faith you may call it, tribalism is a word that has been used a lot about our clubs response to the Suarez racism row, but in those days our tribalism was what made us hard to beat and some of the best supporters in the World.
The only contact I had with my Idols, my Gods, my heroes was through a transistor radio BBC Radio 2, whenever I hear the tune to soccer special I still get goose bumps, more than anything it reminds me of those European nights, when you only ever got commentary from the 2nd half of any game, unless of course it was a Cup-Final of which there were many. The only time there was a live game would again be a Final, so highlights and Match Of The Day were the only time we saw football on television.
Television pundits were there to talk about the great play and the goals scored, they hardly ever criticised players and certainly never had agendas against particular teams or fans, Newspapers wrote articles about the match they had seen and not about what songs the supporters were singing, nobody including most clubs did not give a damn about supporters, but you know what we were happy with our lot.
Monday mornings at school spent ribbing and arguing with your peers and fellow football fans about the match from the previous weekend, or Saturday because games were never played on a Sunday, many times this would take place when you had never even seen the game or listened to its commentary on the radio, but it did not matter, I would support my club blind. The banter was all part of the attraction of being a football fan it always has been, some journalist and media types would have you believe that banter is no longer to be tolerated in this society, that you can’t hate your rivals for a few hours before, during and after a match. Many times I hated my Mother, my Father, and my Brothers and Sisters all in the pursuit of supporting my team, when Nottingham Forest knocked us out of The European Cup in September 1978 I did not talk to my brother for two weeks, and we shared a room and a bed at that age, but I hated him and his team. I have forgiven him just, but I will never forgive them for making me cry and killing the assumption I had that we were invincible.
So we fast forward a few years to today 2012, what happened to the genuine supporter, when was he murdered, and who is responsible for his demise, you only have to look toward the younger generation and how they live in this technologic age where everything is instant, where being at the top is far better than being in any other position, where support is not a one way street, if I support you then you must give me something in return, today I demand you give me success; not just any old success like winning, I want the win to be an important win, I want you to understand that your failure reflects badly on me in front of my friends it ruins my social network experience and I won’t have it.
Everything in one place, ITunes , IPod , IPad, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook then we have all the sports forums online, journalist with their swords so much sharper than the pencils they no longer use.
Fast Food and designer labels and for £1 you can win as many millions as you wish, everything is possible but the demand for a return is top of all our lists, what is in this for me.
Today’s fan has everything at his/her finger tip the internet can give a multitude of differing views, you can choose to believe whom you wish or be taken in by all sorts of socially inept individuals.
My own views are that certain individuals are responsible for my attempted murder!!! How do you plead Sky Sports? I hope you have a good defence lawyer because the evidence is damning, football on demand, whenever I choose to watch a game I can, my choice of heroes and my icons will be decided by Sky Sports, if they want to suggest one of my heroes is not worthy of my worship they will do so, and nodding I will follow you my God from television land.
I can no longer argue my case against fellow football fans because Sky Sports has already digested the match and given a synopsis and as such leaving me without a valid opinion, a slow motion showing me what a complete idiot I was for shouting handball but also confirming we were cheated. My actual opinion is irrelevant now I am a pointless part of the football process, the fan the supporter is an irrelevance.
Oliver Holt can tell me who I am what I will continue to be defined as, I am a racist, I am a bigot, I am a follower and tribal in my support for my team, why because I have an opinion because I choose to support my team, I choose to believe what I think is believable, in an awful lot of ways you have become more tribal than me, you follow the headless pack toward the injured animal because you perceive that he is weak, you smell blood, but after each attack he refuses to die, but your pack gets bigger with more ferocious attacks and eventually you will have me I will be unable to fight back because I am not in it for the same reasons as you, yes I am defeated Murdered by the media and its hunting pack.
I am not saying things were better pre all the above, I am saying though that they are worse now and more difficult to get away with just being an ordinary supporter of a football team, and certainly much more difficult for an opinion to actually warrant listening to.
The truth may be that some have forgotten what a football fan is really all about, we are not to be used to pass social comment on society’s ills, we are not your political animal trained to obey, when you say “Jump” we will not, be very careful how you upset us because our bite is far more potent than our bark, we won’t be pushed around and told how we should respond to your failings or others who choose to hijack our club and pertain to persuade that they are the face of true fans.
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