One of football’s greatest strengths is its ability to bring people together, uniting them regardless of race, colour, gender, age or education in the common interest of beating that other team in the differently coloured shirt. Unfortunately, this all falls down when it becomes evident that your new best friend is in fact an insufferable prick.
There are two situations where this can happen. In the first, and ordinary one, you’re meeting some friends to watch the match and they bring along a mate who you’ve never met before. In this instance, some of the damage can be fixed by simply ignoring him and sitting at the opposite end of the group.
Far more dangerous is the second type, where you’re sitting alone nursing your hatred of humanity and hoping to submerge your pained consciousness in two hours of meaningless football when some too-loud voice, right in your ear, says “nice shirt mate, mind if I sit here?”
This is a horrible turn of events, and given that, for some reason, society frowns on you grinding a pint glass into these peoples’ eyes, one that you’ll have to learn to cope with.
The most important thing to do is quickly assess the sort of person you’re dealing with. Some people will be normal, and only want to quietly use football as a cathartic release for their troubles while drinking themselves into a stupor. These fans are harmless, and will leave you to wallow in your depression alone.
The other sort, unfortunately, will seek interaction, a torture that you’ll want to avoid at all costs. Here are some signs of this type of FAN:
- A replica shirt of whatever top four team are playing that day. On the back will be either the name of the team’s top scorer, or the person’s own hilarious football nickname (it won’t be hilarious).
- A tendency to clap by smashing their palms together as hard as possible. They’ll also continue to applaud for at least three seconds after everyone else has stopped, but incredibly won’t feel the slightest shame.
- They’ll loudly cheer any touch a player from their team makes on the ball, even if it involves smashing it out of play when at least three passing options were available. This will be followed by a shout of “play the way you’re facing, good lad”.
- In some particularly obnoxious cases they’ll act as if they are in fact at the ground, standing up whenever the ball crosses the half way line and singing loudly any chants they know about the opposition’s best player/manager.
In these (unfortunately not usually terminal) cases, there’s only a few of options. You can:
- Ask them to shut up. This will almost always be met with a disbelieving look and a pained cry of “Jesus Christ mate calm down, I’m only trying to enjoy myself/It’s only banter”. Regrettably, it is impossible to explain that banter requires two people, and is in any case incredibly banal (they laugh too much at the word banal to listen to anything else you’re saying). This leads on to options 2 and 3:
- Commit violence. Best to avoid this as the rush of adrenaline makes it almost impossible for you to restore the necessary equilibrium to resume your pained demeanour.
- Leave and go somewhere else. This is also a bad option, as it turns out almost everywhere is now filled with these people, who are apparently “normal” and “well-adjusted to performing a useful role in society”. Don’t they know that the ability to extract the dark themes from the stories of Edgar Allan Poe is important?
In short, the terrible truth about football is that a large percentage of the human race is impossible to deal with for any length of time. Good luck.