Saturday, August 29, 2009

Flags And Blood

I am not "West 'am". No matter how much I love the team I have never and would never fight for its name. Whatever that means. My relationship is with the team and the team alone. I am not a supporter. I am a fan.

When I've been to matches I've felt conscious of people around me. But I get so lost in the game that what they're saying or doing doesn't interest me in the slightest. Chants are background noise. I'm there but it's as if I'm watching it on tv. I feel tuned in to what's going on on the pitch and I block out everything else. Even the annoying bloke with the loud voice in the row behind me.

I am a fan. A supporter is a different animal. He or she feels at one with their fellow supporters. At its extreme, this feeling translates into a violent pride in their own people and an antipathy towards others. All the more so if the others are as close as family. Family who choose to wrap themselves in a different flag.

All this bollocks about going back to the dark days of the 70s and 80s! Proud allegiance has always been and always will be dark.

Wave a flag and you've got blood on your hands.


  1. Can't you watch everything on TV if that's the experiece? Sounds much more civilised...

  2. It is and I do. It's too expensive to go nowadays, anyway.

  3. Interesting definition of fan and supporter. It's never been quite the same since you had to sit down.
    Were you a supporter of Yes (or substitute name of any other fave band of your youth) - or just a fan?

  4. You don't paint slogans on your chest?

  5. Kaz - There wasn't much sitting down in the Millwall match. I don't think you can be a supporter of a band, unless you follow them to see every live performance, like those poor sods who booked tickets to just see Oasis at those festivals. Supporting a football team means you have to feel part of a group. I have never done so. I've often wished I could but I just don't have that kind of personality. That doesn't make me any less passionate about my team, though.

    MJ - It's very difficult to look in the mirror at what you're writing.

  6. although not particularly a West Ham fan, they are they only team to have moved me to tears when they lost the FA cup to Liverpool in the last seconds :(

  7. I only cry when we win something. Which is about once every 25 years.

  8. Billy Bremner made me cry when he scored the goal that knocked Wolves out of the Cup in the semi-final at Maine Road in '73. Jim Montgomery was my avenging angel. I've liked Sunderland ever since.

    Having watched two of the Premiership games over the weekend, I reckon everyone's a "fan" these days. Isn't it quiet in grounds now?

  9. That reminds me...

    I still haven't sent you the cocktail napkins you won.

    I hope you haven't been putting off home entertaining because of it.

  10. Malc - I usually supported the underdog. Unless it was Wimbledon. The atmosphere at the West Ham v Millwall match I heard described as either "frightening" or "cracking, like the old days".

    MJ - It's been very quiet here. I can't wait to have our own Abigail's Party.

  11. Can I just say that Upton Park is the only ground in world from which I have been ejected by Lilly Law?

    Must be something they put in the bovril.

    Oh, for publicly wishing a short and unhappy retirement on Billy Bonds, since you ask.

  12. Well he did play till he was 87.

  13. I know that seemingly normal Europeans are crazy about soccer and that they will gladly deal with Gypsies and trade their surplus offspring, Royal Wedding Memorabilia, or Grandfather's glockenspiel, in exchange for tickets to League matches.

    That's really weird because it's mostly a bunch of skinny out-of-town millionaires running around an inordinantly large open field and taking "dives" that would make motion picture actors from the silent era cringe in embarrassment.

    Maybe if they scored 20 or 30 points a game?

  14. We need to make the goals bigger and have time outs for burgers.

  15. Oh, is Lilly Laws still there? Lovely lass. Those were the days - Lilly Laws...Billy Bonds...Philly Parkes...Ronnie Radford...Jimmy Johnstone...

    Lor love a duck - you couldn't get in the *team* if you didn't have both names starting with the same letter!



    w.v. saspacks. Yep - you'd be able to get 2 of those for 50p; good for dunking in yer bovril...