Your common football fan, the ones that trample all over the country following their clubs from Plymouth to Carlisle, will be the first to point fingers at the supporters of the so called big clubs of the Premier League. You often hear rhetoric like “United, Liverpool, Chelsea et al are spoiled by their success and that’s why they hate England. That’s why they don’t follow the national team. That’s why we are better supporters than them. Glory hunters the lot of them!”
As a United fan you hear that quite alot.
Of course, here at MUFC we have no real fans. No fans that travel away. No fans that sing themselves horse. And no fans that remember the days when we won near on nothing..year after year after year. We have absolutely 100% zero nada nothing fans that invest any real emotion into their glory hunting football team. Frankly…this stereotype bores us. Yawn.
So tonight England hop across the North Sea for a friendly game against Denmark. Once upon a time any England game was a source of excitement for all fans..whether that be the ones like us that reside in the top flight, or the ones who make regular trips to Accrington Stanley or the like, and those that swim around the non-league divisions. The England national team truly used to unite all of us……But not anymore.
Apathy has taken over when it comes to the Three Lions. Yeah, we all get mildly enthused when a big tournament comes round, or maybe a massive match against a world power in the game. But in general, our fans and those of the teams that have vital business on the agenda week in and week out in the Prem just don’t give a monkeys. And here….is….why:
Its not that long ago I was at Wembley watching England (well late 90s actually!) And as a United fan, watching the Neville brothers, Becks, Scholsey and Butty represent England was an exciting prospect. What wasn’t at all exciting however was to observe large sections of the alleged home crowd boo-ing our players. Yes. The players in White. Representing their country. All because of their United association. It sort of leaves a sour taste in your mouth. However, I persevered with England. Went to the odd match. Buried my head in the sand when a load of Gillingham fans…or Grimsby fans…or QPR fans would slag off United to high heavens from the stands. It was difficult to understand who England as a team belonged to. Was I or my peers allowed to support England? Was our passports and our patriotism enough to be worthy?
Fast forward a decade or so. Yes, England still bombing out of tournaments in classic fashion after being the bookies favs. Golden generations proving they were more gold plated rather than the real deal. The same old same old. The straw that broke the camels back for me came just last summer. England off to South Africa. No mega heat to fight against. More time given to preparation. Brilliant Italian manager to sort our tactics. Everything in perfect place. And then? Of course the usual. But this time it was different.
As Wayne Rooney walked off that pitch and uttered those infamous words aimed at the howling support who’d travelled from one side of the planet to another…just to watch some well paid gentlemen (ahem) kick a ball around a field…I felt something inside of me………..die. It wasn’t specifically what Wayne said. But it was the totality of it all. Like a pimple that had come to the head. It was over for me. I no longer felt connected to either the fan base or the football team. The ground between the pleasure you receive from supporting your club and the misery you feel from supporting the national team had just gone a gulf to far. Now non trophy winning fans will tell you that this is the deal: That us glory hunters are disloyal to our national roots. But in honesty it has nothing to do with winning and losing. It has to do with how the whole England set up…some players and fans alike…have become dislocated as a whole from fans like me. Club England now has an exclusive edge. Are ya loyal enough to stand with us? And the players……how much do they want to play for their country?? Oh yeah they love playing for England blah blah…cos of course they prove that every match! Do I really want to support John Terry? Or Ashley Cole?? Hell am I really that bothered what Wayne Rooney does in an England shirt??? When you ask yourself these questions things all start to become clear.
So many United fans like myself are sick and bored and tired of the whole stigma that goes with following England…..as a Manchester United fan. Its nothing to do with patriotism. Its nothing to do with loyalty. It has everything to do with a football team, and its idealistic nature of how things should be that isolates many of us. Can I be bothered if England win tonight? Can I invest more emotional currency on this? No. All I care is that our players come back without injuries..so we can get on with the business that intoxicates our minds almost 24/7. I will never want England to lose. Not ever. But will I buy the shirt? Will I vex myself to the point of ripping my hair out? Will I accept watching our players get slaughtered by the alleged fan base? No I wont. I cant. And that counts if you’re a Manc….a Scouser…. A Londoner. Its quite possibly the only common thing that we have about us in footballing terms.
Good luck England. You have more than enough who will continue to follow you. We don’t hate you..were just not interested in being maligned. We wish you all the best.