The football season is back in full swing, TFI Saturday.
No more mid-summer boredom, trawling through obscure channels to watch the title race in Uganda’s League Two, or muting the bizarre commentary on BBC Alba during a Highlands Cup showdown, where there are more camera men than crowd members.
Now we can cheer, bet and drink with an excuse.
In saying that, the return of God’s own game does have one major drawback that has annoyed me since the beginning of time.
Hyped up Super Saturdays and Super-duper Sundays are beamed into pubs across the land, and with it brings the people we wish would just go away, the glory supporters.
Those people who sit on their own, wearing their tatty 1987 Sharp-sponsored Manchester United shirt, shouting at the big screen and lambasting anyone who dares walk in front of it.
They cheer like they’re on the terraces when United score and annoyingly, they refer to their team as ‘we’, despite being from Penzance.
Their best reason for supporting the biggest club in the world? The answers are ALWAYS the same. They have supported them ‘all their lives’, or their dad supported them. Not a good enough excuse I’m afraid.
For the rest of us, who are doomed to a life of footballing mediocrity with our local team, it’s a constant annoyance.
To us, it’s about local pride, travelling to away games and standing and singing with people who have the same accent as you, giving you that sense of tribal belonging.
Glory followers can never claim that.
However, it got me thinking.
There balance of power shifts in football, usually once a decade. Here’s how the road to glory supporting has gone:
Born in the 1960s: This armchair faction are usually Leeds United fans. The ‘dirty’ era of Don Revie kicked their way to silverware (if you believe a certain Mr Clough). By the time these flared-trouser-wearing fake fans came of age, The Whites were Europe’s finest side. These fans are not so coy about admitting being Leeds supporters these days, largely because they’re now rubbish, and there’s hasn’t been any glory to shout about in West Yorkshire since 1992.
Born in the 1970s: As mullets gave way to skinheads, and Glamrock was stomped to death by punks in Doc Martens, young football fans fell in love with the red half of Liverpool. The European Cup win in ‘77 sparked an on-screen relationship that lasted until the early 90s. Like Leeds, Liverpool’s trophy groupies feel vindicated by their lack of links with the Scouse city, simply because they’ve not won the league for decades.
Born in the 1980s: Man United, Man United, Man United. While the rest of us struggled with our home-town team’s perennial rubbishness, millions of kids jumped on a bandwagon that rolled on for years. This isn’t just in Britain either. You’ll find billions of fans in the Far East wearing knocked-off copies of United shirts. They’ve been to Old Trafford as many times as the bloke in the pub round the corner as well.
Born in the 1990s: Mainly Man United, with a liberal sprinkling of Arsenal and Liverpool.
Born in the 2000s: For some reason, the club the rest of us fans love to hate became the darling of a new generation. Chelsea, with its red rubles backing and annoyingly good manager, has meant the posh club from West London is selling more shirts than ever before. It’s a far cry from when Kerry Dixon was king and the gap between the goal and the terraces at Stamford Bridge was so big that cars used to be parked there (no buses though). Manchester City also have a growing number of die-hard digital fans, but living in the shadow of their noisy neighbours, they’re never going to get the same kind of following.