You’re in a football crowd. You disregard all previous socio-cultural differences, join your chosen tribe and dive into the turbulent waters of intrastadial relations. Whether you’re in the Yellow Wall of the Westfalenstadion or on the terraces of Nyewood Lane, you are elbow-to-elbow with certain stock characters who pervade stands around the world. So yes, Dortmund fans from the Ruhr CAN relate to those from Bognor Regis. But, stadium-going supporters of the footballing world, who are ya?
As the heart (and lungs) of the club, they watch every game from the back of the home end starting chants and standing proud. They offer the team refreshing optimism and encouragement even in the face of large deficits. Before kickoff, see them flocking to the local pub to preview and predict over pie and pint. (Drum optional).
The Armchair Pundit
Two versions here: first, there are the self-righteous characters whose coping mechanism consists of a minute-by-minute channelling of questionable strategy. Constant grunts of doubting the manager are replete with Twitter tirades and attention-seeking outrage. Listen out for the comical mispronunciations of foreign players’ names. Then, there is the calm rationalist who knows his libero from his trequartista, evidently plays Football Manager and reads Jonathan Wilson. A tactical Grand Master, see him turn to his mate and evaluate players and formations with encyclopaedic knowledge.
The Shameless Shouter
A season ticket holder who always seems to be there, this oft-tattooed yob attempts to start chants even when nobody joins in. He contests every referee decision with an unintelligible rant of swearing and abuse, much to the annoyance of quieter onlookers nearby. Most likely candidate to be escorted out by stewards. Least likely candidate to marry.
The New-Age Dad
A 30 to 45 year old bringing his kids to their first match. He is overly conscious of the influences they are exposed to and is fettered by restraint to give the ref a piece of his mind too. He has just blown £30 on his Bovril, two half-and-half scarves, lidless soft drinks and soggy hot-dogs.
The Young Pretenders
16 to 21 years old, these have started going to games on their own. Forgetting the example their fathers have led by, they join in with The Shameless Shouter and exuberantly taunt opposition players and fans. Look out for faces scanning Twitter feeds or posing for Instagram selfies.
The Corporate Fanatic
Still suited-and-booted from his job in the City, this bigwig arrives late to kick-off for midweek games and vents his emotions after a stressful day. At half-time, he gets drunk on client-financed lagers and puts a tenner on his team to lose. After the game, see him heading back to the office to spend the night there, again.
The Premature Seat-Leaver
Middle-class and blissfully ignorant, this one always gets up in the middle of a half to apologetically shuffle past everyone for yet another cuppa or toilet break. He watches the game absentmindedly and seems to stay up for a bit too long after standing to applaud, prompting calls of ‘sit down’ (or ‘siddaan’, depending on where you are). Usually misses the final whistle as well as the first, since his desire to beat the traffic clearly outweighs that of clapping the players off.
In soccer stadia, you’re unlikely to find someone without a Y-chromosome. When you do, perhaps she has been dragged along because it is her partner’s birthday. Or she wants to prove her eclecticism (usually for something in return). Or she wants to be seen and it’s an opportunity to dress up. Or she wants to appreciate the footballers’ aesthetics. Or maybe, just maybe, she might actually even like football.
Image courtesy of Flickr