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Why Some England Supporters Are Their Own Worst Enemy

 Why Some England Supporters Are Their Own Worst Enemy

Well we’re almost there.

The future is about to be written.

English football fans are right now full of typical pre-tournament nervousness, arrogance, pitiful lack of self-belief, cynicism, doubt and jingoism. Welcome to England.

The World Cup is the world’s biggest sporting event and captivates almost everyone on earth and even some people in Texas. However, it seems it’s only England that has such a mixed up attitude to its national football team. As a nation – if indeed we are a nation – we seem unable to adopt a unified stance and get behind the side in a manner which is vaguely rational but passionate. So many seem to want to strike an attitude or pose in relation to England.

I’m sure all USA readers are in no doubt that they will be vocally supporting USA in the coming weeks, regardless of how much you like or loath the individuals concerned. It would be unpatriotic not to, right? You want USA to win.

Unfashionably for a Brit, I’ve always loved the way Americans get behind their national sides. There seems a refreshing lack of cynicism behind it. You still believe in your country on some level.

Not so in England.

For some supporting the national side is too wrapped up in the sins of Empire, too connected to beered up racist thugs or just beered up idiots who behave badly. It’s too connected to a mindset that many find abhorrent; right wing, xenophobic and bullying. England has its fair share of whack-jobs who seem to take every game as a re-enactment of some distant war.

We attract a certain kind of fan who seem unable to accept that for 44 years England have not been nearly good enough to win anything and that consequently we should not expect great things. These fans typically think more ‘passion’ will make everything alright. If only the players believed in England like they did we would sweep all before us, would be their view, as opposed to day, better ball retention.

I loath those people as much as any hand-wringing sandal-wearing liberal but it doesn’t make me want to support any other country.

That just wouldn’t be possible. I can’t make supporting a club or a country into just another consumer decision. It’s a non-negotiable contract. I support the country I was born in and the club I was brought up nearest to. I can’t change nor can I walk away. It’s not something I feel I even have a choice over. Even if England were the worst country on earth at football, I would still have to support them and I would do so proudly. It’s my bloody country. For good or ill it made me who I am.

There’s a particularly awful modern trend for some fans claiming they won’t support their home nation because they think the players are all appalling as men. They don’t like them as people so much that they are supporting someone else.

I can’t get with this modern trend at all. First up, since when did we start judging the characters of the people who play for our teams; weighing up if they are good enough for us? I mean, for a start, he who is without sin cast the first stone, baby.

I’m not so morally certain that I want to publically reject a player based on my perception of his moral code. Jesus, what next? Will we not listen to music that’s played by people who we judge unpleasant? Is it so hard to divorce your perception of the person from their art?

I’m sure John Lennon had a dark side and may have been nasty to some people; hell, in ’74 he sat in an LA night club pissed out his head with a sanitary towel sellotaped to his forehead but hey, I’m not going to stop listening to the Beatles because of that any more than I won’t support England because I wouldn’t choose to spend a night out with John Terry. Isn’t that just a grown up attitude?

I suspect the modern media with it’s up close and personal over-exposure of the players has led to a younger generation of fans making these odd decisions. They think they know these men as though they live amongst them because, in a way, they do.

They are life size in their home every week on a big TV. They’re judging them as though they have a relationship with them. I’m not a fan of the likes of Ashley Cole but you know what, I bet if I met him, we’d get on alright. We’d have a love of football in common for a start. He’s not perfect; he might have behaved poorly sometimes but then so have I. So has everyone. I have royally screwed up on many occasions, but the difference is I haven’t been significant enough for the tabloid media to report.

I don’t care about all that. I want him to burn own the left and put in a stunning cross for Rooney to head home. I bloody want that to happen very, very badly. What he does in his private life doesn’t and couldn’t affect me supporting him to do that and frankly I can’t understand why it would do so for anyone else.

So I shall be fervently supporting England. I won’t burn a BMW if Germany beat us, nor will I trash a McDonalds if USA, as I suspect they will, turn us over. This doesn’t means I don’t care. It just means I’m not a moron. It doesn’t mean I’m some sort of wet liberal ponce who is ashamed of his country, it just means I’ve got a perspective and love my country and my football.

So I stand arms aloft, heart-racing and proudly bellow.

“Come on England!”

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29 Responses to Why Some England Supporters Are Their Own Worst Enemy

  1. Kal says:

    ‘even some people in Texas’ … that would be me :)
    I know it is stupid to believe in this…but I am hoping against hope to see an attacking, open, end to end type stuff this time around. Compared to Germany where it was mid summer…its the perfect weather for attacking football.
    Can’t wait.

  2. There’s nothing like a pissed up Engand fan flat out on his back with a can of stella in his hand.

    COME ON ENGLAND

    I’ll still support you no matter how much i scream at the T.V and call you shit.

  3. Jesse Chula says:

    May I be the first to second that?

    COME ON ENGLAND!

  4. Clampdown says:

    “I’m sure all USA readers are in no doubt that they will be vocally supporting USA in the coming weeks, regardless of how much you like or loath the individuals concerned. It would be unpatriotic not to, right? You want USA to win.”

    That’s an odd comment considering you have an American writing articles and commenting about his support for England rather than the US.

    Also, I thought you were Welsh, Gaffer.

    • The Gaffer says:

      My bad! I forgot to put John Nicholson’s name on the byline, so I see why you and others were confused. John Nic from Football 365 wrote this one. And yes, I’m Welsh!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  5. Texas Soccer Pants says:

    and even some people in Texas….Well I can’t speak for all of Texas, but there is some buzz for the USMNT team in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex….

  6. Kristian Downer says:

    England population £50m like any country will have a percentage of idiots, no nation has more/less than the others, just when it comes to football ours are louder, closer together and more reported upon.

    There will be idiots everywhere, especially in football, but the real legends of supporters make supporting your team or talking to fans of other teams worthwhile!

  7. Wolves in SC says:

    “I’ve always loved the way Americans get behind their national sides. There seems a refreshing lack of cynicism behind it. You still believe in your country on some level.”

    I’m sorry…where is the evidence for this? The Olympics? OK, but we only get to see coverage of the sports in which the US excel, so you wouldn’t expect much cynicism there.

    None of the so called major sports have a proper world championship or even that many international games.

    If the reference is to the support for US football (soccer) then fair enough, but then the US has not been burdened with high expectations to this point. There is little mainstream media coverage of Bradley’s selections, formation, tactical understanding, etc. Hopefully the US will develop into a consistent top 10 team and the media will cover the game with the same scrutiny as in England. Then throw in a few heartbreaking defeats on penalties and some broken metatarsels and then we’ll have another look at the cynicism-rating!!

    • McBride says:

      “I’m sorry…where is the evidence for this?”

      I have to agree. There is no cynicism surrounding the USMNT team, because, frankly, nobody really cares in this country. A small devoted group follow the side much like a local rock band nobody else knows about.

      I assure you there is plenty of cynicism when it comes to the sports which matter to the country as a whole.

  8. Cord4Gooner says:

    I assume that picture is Wayne Rooney shortly after arriving to South Africa?

  9. adam says:

    fresh view on the absurdity of using your national team alliance as some sort of moral high ground.

  10. ovalball says:

    “I’m sure all USA readers are in no doubt that they will be vocally supporting USA in the coming weeks, regardless of how much you like or loath the individuals concerned. It would be unpatriotic not to, right? You want USA to win.”

    Ummm. Have you talked to Jesse? ;-)

    Actually, I think there will be lots of red, white & blue Americans rooting for other teams. We have this whole melting pot thing going on, even today. If Ireland (land of my forefathers) hadn’t gotten jobbed out of the chance to compete I honestly don’t know how I would feel if they had to play the U.S. For me, and many others, it just isn’t all that simple. I love my country, but am proud of my heritage. They go hand in hand. One doesn’t necessarily trump the other.

    As Jesse said, “It’s only football.”…..and maybe, in the end, that is what we all should remember.

    • Jesse Chula says:

      OB,…you’re slowly starting to become my fav.

      Great points all around.

      The number of Americans who pull for another country first and then the US (in a close) second would be staggering if some official poll was conducted.

      • McBride says:

        “The number of Americans who pull for another country first and then the US (in a close) second would be staggering if some official poll was conducted.”

        As wrong as you are, you are safe because it’s just about impossible to prove either way. Suffice it to say your opinion is as misguided as your footie loyalties.

        If we were to poll American citizens who closely follow soccer, I gaurantee you the majority are first and foremost USMNT fans. Wannabes like yourself are the minority.

  11. sg says:

    The Club v. Country divide will never happen in the US like it does in england. You don’t have fans at US national basketball games singing “stand up if you hate the Lakers” like you do in england with “stand up if you hate man utd”

    The big clubs in the northwest is where you’ll find the biggest club v. country divide IMO. A large set of proper Scousers and United supporters both would pick their club 8 days out of the week over england and really don’t care much for england. Supporters of smaller clubs IMO have always made up greater numbers in england support as it is also a chance for them to experience support in a differnent way as they are not doing european aways and massive matches like the big northwest boys are used to. There are other reasons why the club v. country issue exists and is very real and is here to stay in england.

    • McBride says:

      “The Club v. Country divide will never happen in the US like it does in england. You don’t have fans at US national basketball games singing “stand up if you hate the Lakers” like you do in england with “stand up if you hate man utd”

      Is your point that Americans don’t route against national team players because they play for a club team they don’t like? I think you absolutely had Red Sox fans that did not want Roger Clemens to do well when he pitched for the US during the World Baseball Classic.

      And how far does that extend in England? Would Arsenal fans rather England lose than Rooney score goals? Are ManU fans pulling for John Terry to score an own goal and the Americans to win Saturday?

      The US and England aren’t that different when it comes to sports. Americans’ just divide their loyalty between more sports.

      • ianm says:

        “Americans’ just divide their loyalty between more sports.”

        Eh? Not sure thats true – The English support and will follow abroad (en-masse) our Footballers, Cricketers, Rugby players & Boxers to name just 4 sports.

        • McBride says:

          “Eh? Not sure thats true – The English support and will follow abroad (en-masse) our Footballers, Cricketers, Rugby players & Boxers to name just 4 sports.”

          How important is boxing and rugby to England as a whole, when compared to soccer? Because in this country it goes like this:

          1. professional football
          2. professional baseball
          3. college football
          4. car racing
          5. professional basketball
          6. ice hockey
          7. college basketball

          I’d place soccer 8th or 9th in terms of this country’s sporting interest, somewhere near golf.

          Still think the Brits divide their sporting interests as much as we do?

          • Clampdown says:

            Perhaps. I’ve seen on Sky highlights of thousands watching obese lager louts toss darts.

          • MLS says:

            Major League Soccer has now moved past the NBA and NHL in terms of average attendance, based on figures from each sport’s most recent full season. Have a look at the #’s below.

            1. NFL – 67,508.69 (2009 season)
            2. MLB – 30,213.37 (2009 season)
            3. MLS – 18,452.14 (2010 season, as of 04/11/2010)
            4. NBA – 17,149.61 (2009/10 season)
            5. NHL – 16,985.31 (2009/10 season)

          • McBride says:

            “Major League Soccer has now moved past the NBA and NHL in terms of average attendance, based on figures from each sport’s most recent full season. Have a look at the #’s below.”

            MLS teams play, what, 15 home games a year? NBA and NHL teams play 41 home dates a season.

            Average attendance doesn’t tell the entire story.

          • ianm says:

            Ha ha

            I’m sorry, haven’t you got the same game in that list more than once? Isn’t Pro Football & College Football the same actual sport? Likewise Pro & College Basketball?

            Should I have included my kids school soccer leagues as well in my list?

            I also work for a Motorsport Company – the biggest in the UK so please don’t tell me we’re not interested in Racing duh.

            When England won the Rugby World Cup this country came to a standstill – parades through London etc Have you ever seen an International Rugby game at one of the stadiums in the UK?

            Hockey…here thats a girls game…no seriosly…it is….like rounders (or baseball as you call it).

            90,000 even turn up for your NFL match each year at Wembley.

            So, in a nutshell, YES, we do divide ourselves amongst as many sports as you Americans…if not more…because we invented most of the “Worlds” games!

            But being an american I’m sure you’re busy re-writing that history as well.

          • Union Jack Jackson says:

            I think in Britain the most popular sports (in no particular order except for the top couple) are:

            Soccer
            Rugby Union
            Cricket
            Rugby League
            Horse racing
            Tennis
            Golf
            Darts
            Snooker
            Motor racing
            Boxing

            And I think the British pretty much invented all of those too (not sure about horse racing or motor racing though).

  12. IanCransonsKnees says:

    I’ll watch it and follow England but I’d rather see Stoke win the FA Cup than England win the World Cup. In fact I’ll go so far as to say winning the World Cup is the last thing that England need right now.

    It gets difficult to cheer on the likes of Rooney, Terry, Cole, Lampard and Gerrard when they spend the matches they play against your team feigning injury, haranguing the ref, diving and generally being pricks.

    I can take it or leave it.

    • Clampdown says:

      Your point, and the one above yours (sg), are exactly the reason I can’t cheer for England, even as my “second” team in the tournament. Interestingly, Jesse wrote in his earlier article that his connection to the Premier League was a primary reason why he will be cheering on England instead of his own country. I, on the other hand, cannot stand Rooney, Terry, Ashley Tweedy Cole, and Lampard, and can never see myself cheering for them.

  13. Texas Soccer Pants says:

    ianm, college football and basketball are technically the same sports, but they atheletes are not paid, so pro football and basketball are very different from the college sports. Pro hockey in the states is definately not a sport for the fairer sex. As far as rewriting history, well the winners get to write history, to quote an old saying.

    • ianm says:

      That doesn’t diminish my arguement though. I didn’t include amatuer (non-paid) versions of sport we watch in the UK in my list but you did.

      I know – lets agree that both countries divide their loyalties between an equal amount of various sports but that they have different priorities…in the US the NFL is big one in the UK its Football (or soccer as y’all call it)

      To be honest, for a sport we care even less about than Americans care about Soccer, 90,000 Brits turning up to an NFL game at Wembley is heroic (although undoubtedly some small percentage are Americans in the UK at the time).

  14. Texas Soccer Pants says:

    I think you would be suprised how much we Americans care for soccer, when Chelsea was here for their summer tour last summer, each stop was sold out, and they had 80,000+ at their stop in Dallas alone. You argument is diminished when you compare Division 1 college football to your kids soccer league. Division 1 college football compares more favorably to the English Championship, as 95%(just a guess on my part) of NFL players come from Division 1 colleges.

  15. McBride says:

    “Should I have included my kids school soccer leagues as well in my list?”

    Sure, if 100,000 people attend the matches each Saturday. College football (and to a lesser extent, college basketball) is an entirely different animal than professional football. In parts of America college football is a religion very much like soccer is in England. Many of those folks don’t care as much for the professional game.

    In this country there is a not a huge different between the interest levels of football, baseball and basketball. Soccer seems far and away to be the passion of England.

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