Do you want to know what annoys me more than friendship scarves? What annoys me more than people taking pictures of Jamie Carragher’s arse, when he’s warming up? Something, that even annoys me more than Jonathon Walters? You probably don’t care but I’ll tell you anyway. My biggest annoyance of all annoyances is part-time fans of lower-league clubs. Yes, I know, what a strange pet hate, how possibly could you hate that more than Jonathon Walters? Well, let me explain.
First of all, what is a part-time lower league fan? It can be easily defined by this regular conversation, “Hello random stranger. Who do you support?” “Manchester United,” comes the sharp reply. “Where are you from?” Is the regular follow up question. “Just outside Nottingham, a place called Mansfield (for example).” “Do you ever go to watch Mansfield?” You ask in hope. They bork at you in sheer disgust and laughter, “No, are you mad? They’re shit.” Where was said example of part-time lower league fan on Sunday 6th January? You guessed it, sitting proudly wearing a jester hat/face paint/ friendship scarf/morph suit or any other sort of stupid attire probably singing, the toe curling chant, “WHO R YA?” to the travelling Liverpool fans. These are the type of ‘fans’, that are there loudly professing their loyalty to a lower league club when the big boys are in town, only to never go again.
Now, I’m not picking on Manchester United, because there are probably plenty of examples of Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal ‘fans’ going to Whaddon Road for the first time ever, to watch Cheltenham play Everton, or traveling to Crawley to watch them host Reading. It must annoy the regulars more than it does myself. Their blood must boil when they are standing next to first timers, who don’t know a single player of the lower league team they are there to support, but know how many brasses the opposition team have shagged. If these clubs had upwards of seven thousand in attendance (which they do, for FA/League Cup ties against ‘bigger clubs’), every other week, their beloved club could (probably would) be in a better state than it is.
Non-League and lower league football needs us more than ever. Historic clubs such as, Kettering Town are failing to name eleven players on their team sheet, never mind the required sixteen. Clubs are struggling to continue to exist because the SkyFan* would rather watch his team from a chair/couch, than watch his local team on a terrace.
There are people in life I have met who laugh at die-hard fans of clubs such as; Accrington Stanley, Bury, Rochdale and so on. Why? They laugh from their armchair, while the real fans go to these clubs regularly and keep English Football ticking. I have nothing but the utmost of respect for the supporters of these clubs. People need to wake up and start pitching in and getting behind their local lower league sides, or they will become no more. Stop soaking up the drivel of Sky and support your local team.
*A SkyFan – A term loosely used to describe an armchair fan. Regularly coughs up opinions of pundits such as Ray Wilkins, Jamie Redknapp and Alan Smith. Who they also believe are the best pundits around. Often, takes more amusement from other supporters’ misery, than its own success.