Are you a “true” football fan?

Are you a ‘true’ fan?

In the year or so of managing Soccerlens, I’ve heard this quite often: you’re not a true fan, if you were you’d … (add your own rationalisation here – these usually run along the lines of ‘know the history’, ‘trust the manager’, etc etc – anything to deny the other person’s point of view).

So I ask again – are you a ‘true’ fan? How so?

Recently the ‘act’ of being a ‘true’ fan was defined in a comment as one who sticks by a club through their highs and lows. I certainly have no arguments with that – fanaticism requires that you stick to your beliefs through thick and thin.

However, this ‘true fan’ idea is whipped out every time people find something they disagree with. Such as:

What, you like Freddy Shepherd? You CANT be a true fan.

What, you support Manchester United? You southern bastards, you’d support Chelsea if they were winning this season.

Chelsea don’t have any true fans.

You don’t go to the stadium and watch the games, do you? You can’t be a true fan, no.

It is as if being a ‘true fan’ means that you have to be a specific type of person – the ones who scream their hearts out at every game they can go and watch, the ones who have shed blood for the club while brawling with opposition fans in bars and alleys, the ones who are accepted by other fans as ‘true’ fans, ones who live in the same city.

There are a lot of warped definitions, but the only one I can really agree with is this one:

A true fan is one who supports his team through thick and thin, no matter where he is or what he does.

So I guess the next question is – ‘new’ fans who starting watching a team after being exposed to them winning titles (United fans in the 90s, Arsenal fans over the turn of the century and Chelsea fans now), when will they be classified as ‘true’ fans? Is their a period of initiation, where you have to show that you suffer and yet still support the club?

Or is it that because you support a big club that’s winning trophies, you can’t be a true fan, because being a true fan involves suffering?

Let me know what you guys think.

Update: Neil (comment #5) gives us this definition:

“A real fan is someone who has known disappointment but not loved their club one degree less. A real fan must spend at least 30 minutes a day thinking about their club. A real fan should be able to explain to the satisfaction of other fans why they support the club they do and finally… Must be able to name the entire first team squad and be able to discuss the reletive strengths and weaknesses of their team.”

Update 2: This article would be incomplete without mention this excellent piece at the Arseblog columns titled ‘are you a fan?’ – expresses my sentiments better than I could myself.

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