15 Traditions Only English Football Supporters Will Understand
1. We never lose our comic side when we are losing heavily.
It all too easy to leave the stadium when you’re getting drummed 4-0 by a better team, but it takes real comedic talent to turn the experience into a great day out. You either chant that you’re now going to win 5-4 or take it to the next level and actually celebrate an imaginary goal:
2. Our only valid criteria for judging foreign players is our weather conditions.
‘Yes, he’s good. But could he do it on a cold and windy Tuesday night in Stoke?’
3. We never pass off the opportunity to draw a perfect comparison.
When you spot that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink slimmed down looks a lot like Eddie Murphy or when Steve Bruce’s perfectly round head reminds you of a beach ball it would be cruel not to broadcast such observances. Recently, JonJo Shelvey’s likeness with Lord Voldemort made him the subject of a chant from traveling West Ham fans which warned him that ‘Harry Potter is coming for you’.
4. We never let our players get away with embarrassing stunts.
Picking out the faults of the opposition is natural but it takes real wit to poke fun at your own. Whether it was for John Carew’s publicised outing at a strip club or Joe Hart’s innocent head and shoulders advert, the home support never let an opportunity pass them by for some ‘banter’. Cue Man City fans to serenade Joe Hart with a chorus of ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,
5. We actually follow all the youth teams too.
Not only the reserves, but the under 21s, under 18s and even the academies – the next big thing might be right around the corner and you want to know what to say when somebody asks you about your 16 year old wonderkid dubbed ‘the next Messi’.
6. We suck at Penalties and we know it.
As a national football team we are always underwhelming, but there’s nothing quite like seeing England lose on penalties at a major tournament. It has happened so often now (six losses out of seven) that some of us even consider betting against England in such a scenario.
7. We can all analyse the game better than Shearer.
Match of the Day might be a popular footballing tradition, but watching anything further than the highlights is a dull experience. Most of us seem to know more about football than one of England’s best ever players, or at least most of us had at least some idea who Hatem Ben Arfa was before 2010.
8. We hate to admit liking Gary Neville’s punditry.
He’s still a dick, but annoyingly it is universally agreed that he is the best pundit on television in recent times.
9. Boxing Day is only about one thing.
Whilst other people lounge around in a post-Christmas confused daze, we sit in front of the television with our scarfs and the leftovers or proudly make our way to the stadium through what is normally a barren wasteland – an England devoid of working people, whilst navigating around a country where public transport times appear to be also nursing a holiday hangover. Standing in the bitter cold or watching intensely from your armchair, Boxing Day football is where the true Christmas cheer is showcased.
10. We love our pantomime villains.
We love to hate the bad guy; the cheater, the wife-cheater, the guy who beat up a stranger at a nightclub or the one who gets banned for drug use. He’s the centre of attention for the whole 90 minutes; even if he left the team years ago (Gary Neville is STILL a dick).
This story was produced through the travel journalism programs at MatadorU.
11. We like to point out how quiet the fans are.
‘Is this a library?’
12. We see the action better than the Ref.
You don’t need giant screens showing the action with twenty different angle replays and slow mos. You’ve been watching football live for years and you know a foul when you see one. Expect tremendous abuse towards the referee if he dares to book one of your players or if he doesn’t give a penalty your way, because of course, you are always right. Always. That is until you get home and watch the highlights, where 90% of the calls you complained about were, surprisingly, correct.
13. We love to spot the tourist.
And they can be spotted in an instant even if they don’t ask you to take a photo of them. Wearing a full replica kit, sporting the specially made match day scarf and sitting awkwardly as those around them chant throughout are just a few of the most common traits that match tourists possess.
14. The half-time food is the best meal of the week.
Nothing beats the English match-day food. If you’re a burger or a pie sort of person and if you love your hotdogs and oily chips — the half time break is perfection. There isn’t really much else on offer, but a few splashes of ketchup or mayonnaise later, with an additional napkin (as the first served only as a catching platform for the spilled sauce) your stomach is fully satisfied.
15. We still love the FA Cup no matter what.
It’s a cliché and has been said over and over again — but there’s something just oddly poetic about the FA Cup. After 144 years you would imagine that ‘expecting the unexpected’ would eventually become standard. But we still see smaller teams made up of part-time plumbers and electricians beat the powerhouses of world sport with a team costing a minuscule fraction of their opposition.