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How I Became a “Bandwagon” Chelsea Fan

chelsea1 How I Became a “Bandwagon” Chelsea Fan

My name is Morgan Green and I am an American who has been a fan of soccer for the last 7 years. Throughout that time I’ve seen and heard a lot about my love of soccer and about the teams that I choose to follow. It’s a unique situation being a hardcore soccer fan in America, mainly because you get criticism from both opponents of soccer and actual soccer fans. I’ve been called stupid, told that I don’t understand the game, and that I only root for winners. Essentially my fandom has been reduced to the status of “Bandwagoner.”

Nothing gets my blood pumping more than being called a Bandwagon fan, mainly because nothing could be further from the truth. A bandwagon fan is someone who jumps from team to team based upon their success. I personally despise bandwagon fans, which is why it really gets under my skin to be called one. I’m not writing this just to gripe and complain, “Oh I don’t get a fair shake, life is so unfair, I’m such a tortured soul.” No, that’s not my style. I’m not sure that this situation is unique to myself, but if it is then so be it.

 “You’re a supporter of (insert successful team name)? Well that’s only because they win, you bandwagoner!”

This is also somewhat of a false statement. It comes down to TV scheduling. If you don’t have or cannot afford Fox Soccer or GolTV, then you’re pretty much only able to watch whatever matches are deemed “high quality” by the heads of the major networks who actually show the games. This usually includes one of the Top 4 teams in the EPL, games, in the waning stages of the Champions League, and the Champions League Final. When you’re inundated with these teams and they’re the only ones who you’re able to watch on a consistent basis, then clearly you’re going to develop some level of fandom for them. It’s not like you’re going to watch one match between Man United and Arsenal and say “Hey, I like the EPL maybe I’ll become a fan of Stoke City.”

Manchester United has worked very hard to get such a large fan base. The club has done well to market themselves all around the world. The same way that Barcelona, Real Madrid and many other European giants have done for years, they’ve dominated the market because they win and because they can. If that’s all a person sees then you can’t blame them for supporting them. It’d be like me chastising an English fan of the NBA for supporting the Lakers or the Celtics instead of the Wizards or the Pacers. They’re the successful teams that everyone knows. But sports need these popular teams to help grow their own brands. The more interest there is in Manchester United, the more money that comes into the league from fans who want to watch that team. The strategy is to hook a fan with a popular team to get them interested in watching the rest of the league. If everything goes well then fans will want to watch other matches and develop a love for other teams. That’s how a league builds its popularity. It’s just good business.

This brings up the biggest factor of the “Bandwagoner” argument. I’ve never been to England, I’ve never lived in north London or Manchester nor Newcastle. Therefore, as a fan, I’m in a unique position of where I can choose who I want to root for. Unlike American sports where I support all my local Baltimore area teams, I have a cornucopia of literally hundreds of teams to choose from in Europe. When you’re just getting into a sport, you’re naturally going to be drawn to the successful teams.

When I started watching soccer, Chelsea, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan were all dominating their respective leagues. So naturally I was going to watch them because they had the best players and were playing better than any of the teams around them. Since then, as my soccer addiction grew, I began to watch other teams on a regular basis, mainly in the EPL since a lot of the other leagues were not available to watch on a consistent basis. I developed a passion for Newcastle United since their club and fans reminded me a bit of my own hometown. But even if I were to watch every game from every league and find other teams that I like for various reasons, my support of the teams that originally got me enamored with soccer will never waiver.

I didn’t jump ship from Chelsea after Jose Mourinho left and Manchester United regained their top spot in the league. I didn’t start supporting Real Madrid after they beat out Barcelona for the title. THAT would be something a bandwagon fan would do. I’m someone who believes that when you finally make that jump as a fan to support a team, you need to support that team through thick and thin. It seems as though the definition of what a bandwagon fan is has been lost.

If you want to criticize me for liking a rival team then by all means go ahead and do so, it comes with the territory. But don’t attack someone for the reasons that they like a team, especially if they have no ties to that area. Maybe take a step back and get to know their story before you start throwing the Bandwagon tag around. But if you see that person rooting for Manchester United one day, then Manchester City the next, then by all means go ahead and give them the business. Pick a team and stick with them, bandwagoner.

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35 Responses to How I Became a “Bandwagon” Chelsea Fan

  1. ChelseaMPLS says:

    As an American who lives in London, it is the same thing that occurs across the pond. The majority of fans here are Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Yes there are fans of the other clubs and they are hardcore supporters. Try go into a pub and ask them to switch the Manchester United or Liverpool match to Fulham or QPR.

    I believe that once you pick a club you stick with them and if you switch clubs, then you are glory hunter or bandwagon fan.

  2. Fergus Clegg says:

    If you think the “EPL” operates as a “league” which seeks “success for their ‘brand’” by promoting good teams then clearly you have no idea how soccer works and are thusly a bandwagoner.

  3. Frill Artist says:

    WELL SAID! I’m sick of people that say, “what a bandwagonner” because I like Man U. I’ve loved Man U since I was a kid and have never changed allegiance. Outside of England, my other favorite club is AC Milan. The ones I hate are people that jump from team to team when they buy new players or their favorite player transfers to another team. Like all the new Man Sh*tty fans or Fake Madrid fans.

  4. Marty says:

    I feel the same way, I only begun watching the English Premier League within the past few years and I get called a bandwagoner or gloryhunter all the time. I was an American who watched the EPL and Champions League and didn’t have a club to follow. I would just watch out of love of the game and usually cheer on the underdog. Over the past year I felt impulsed to pick a club to follow for the rest of my life. I chose Manchester City due to the fact that they are nearly always on American TV, they have a bright future, and they don’t have any major triumphs that I wasn’t there to experience. (besides the beating Gillingham for promotion). I did my research about the club so I would be respectful of it’s history and know about their past. Did I pick them because they win? yes i do admit that is part of the reason, but as Americans we aren’t born into football with a team we begin to follow at birth. Ask a Cleveland Browns fan if they would choose the Browns if they had a chance, most of them wouldn’t it’s something you are born into. Picking a successful team to follow isn’t the problem, it’s those who quit and leave to follow the next flavor of the month.

  5. Sounderkyle says:

    I’m with you on this article. I am a Seattle Sounders (my local team) fan first, but when I was drawn into the EPL I found myself inadvertently supporting Man Utd. because my favorite player to watch was Chicharito. So I know what you are saying about the bandwagoner label. I always support local teams and it annoys me when people pick teams based on winning records. But when it comes to a different country I think you gotta go with who you enjoy watching.

  6. Billyv says:

    When I decided to follow the EPL, Chelsea happened to be touring the US. I saw them play Club America, Milan and Inter. I decided that would be my team. Also, I loved their colors and thought their sponsor fit well on their shirts. If Tottenham would have toured that summer, I wonder if I would have been supporting them (although they had a betting site as a sponsor, which is odd for a US sports fan).

  7. bal says:

    All chelsea fans are bandwagoners

    • Tom says:

      What makes you think so? And how can you make such sweeping statements? Don’t you think that’s unfair

      Could you please explain your unreasonable and illogical comment?

  8. Why? says:

    Morgan, there is a big difference between a ‘fan’ and a ‘supporter’ many supporters are born into a club their families have history with. Those who change because of success of another club or support a club they can’t have any posable conections with are ridiculed and disliked, basically they are seen as band wagon jumpers, glory hunters, fake, or plastic fans doesnt mater if they say they have followed them for 10 years, they are still what they are. Fans in England are usually those who are really not that bothered about the club or there families history so could choose to follow a more successful team, they have totally no conection with or livr a hundred miles away, and why do they do this? Is it Something in their personalities? I think so, is this a reason so many of them are so obnoxious? Maybe they have a need to associate themselves with sucsess while dropping all links to family history etc. Says a lot about them really doesn’t it? I find these people pathetic and love to rib them into to there pathetic stories of why the glory hunted in the first place, like ‘Iused to watch’ Bobby Charlton or Kenny daglish ‘on tv sat on my grandads knee’ even though football was hardly ever shown on tv back then except F.A cup finals!

    Now in regards to people from further away, this is a difficult one, I feel that if you have another countries ancestry or even have connections to other countries etc. it would be important to follow the club your ancestors/family may have done even if they turn out to be Glentoran F.C, Girona F.C, Queen of the South or Accrington Stanley this is the only way to feel that pride, depression or tribalism the highs and lows of a true football supporter.

    Morgan if you can truly say that if Chelsea were relegated two divisions and bankrupt, that you would still follow them, even with no sign of recovery then maybe your onto something. I know what your answer would be as does the man to marry the women he thinks will last for ever, we all know things can change but not for a true ‘supporter’ NEVER. Only you know the real truth.
    The gaffer is maybe now an American and for all the years he has lived there I bet he has been a fan of other teams style and play choosing to watch them and root for them over others. One thing I can tell about him though is who ever these teams were, if they were gonna play Swansea he would only want one outcome! As a ‘supporter’ in America or not.

    • Tom says:

      But why is it necessary to support a club simply because you have “connections” with it?

      And what if someone dosen’t have connections with any club? In that case, he/she can choose any club to support, right? So, after that person has chosen a club, are you saying that person will be ridiculed just because he dosen’t have any connections with it? Wouldn’t that be quite unfair?

      I also don’t see how far you are from a club should determine whether you should support it or not.

      • Why? says:

        Well for one if you are far away it’s next to impossible to support them as this means going and paying, so in other words supporting. You could do this to a lesser extent by buying merchandise. If you did decide to just support a team as you say then you would do this mainly because of success and that makes you plastic and open to ridicule. You may try to tell people how great your glory hunted team are, you could be trumped by another plastic saying he follows Real Madrid can’t you see why this needs ridiculing? Do you think they deserve any respect for this glory hunting? I don’t!

        • Tom says:

          Okay, I understand your points.

          So then, in your opinion, what reason should people have for supporting a team that would not make them plastic and open to ridicule?

          Interest in their style of play, culture or history, perhaps?

          As for being far away from a club, you can simply just watch their matches on TV right? Or as you say, buy merchandise. That dosen’t make you a worse supporter than those who live nearby and go to their stadium to watch matches does it?

          • Why? says:

            Tom you can be a fan of who ever you like no problems but supporting well being a true supporter doesn’t only cost money it’s part of your very soul. It’s hard to explain especially it seems to Americans, this maybe because of the size of the Country. Clubs aren’t really thought of as part of the local community as they are in England as the City areas are smaller. In England from a very early age you will take to a club usually the one that’s been in your family for generations maybe your father will take you to your first game where those names are right in front of you and you’re star struck in front of those heroes. It makes no difference if they are World beaters or rubbish. Why do you think people go and watch say Stockport County? The tickets are as expensive as some premier league clubs, they don’t have top players and generally struggle, well in recent years any way. So why would a new supporter follow them? Because of history (some here confuse this with trophies it‘s not the case), community pride and ancestry. It would be very easy for them to just say ‘sod this I’m not paying good money to watch this I’m of to Old Trafford or The Etihad’ and of course many of them have already took to ‘glory hunting’ it’s sad but it’s these people that are playing a big part in the destruction of football as we knew it in Britton. We are now left with a very sterile boring predictable top league, where the top cannot help but be the top this is only going to get worse with the corrupt FFPR those lower league supporters can no longer even have the football dream that was always there of ‘one day we will get new investment and by a great player or two and we could win as well‘, even this has been taken. So yet another kick in the teeth to the real football supporter, those that stick with those lower league teams they were boen into. If you can understand this you should know what I’m saying.

            In America and other countries it is different as that community connection can’t be there but it can if you have friends or ancestry in the UK you can at least draw pride form that, hence why I think you should go with the teams or areas of ancestry thinking that a family member years down the line may have followed or gone on to follow a team through thick and thin, world class or crap. Surely this would mean more than just simply because they have a good chance of winning or a player or two that you like?

            ‘As for being far away from a club, you can simply just watch their matches on TV right? Or as you say, buy merchandise. That doesn’t make you a worse supporter than those who live nearby and go to their stadium to watch matches does it?’
            You’re right in some ways but you could never get the feel of being that true supporter, sometimes you may see English supporters reacting angrily in replies this is because the club feels like a part of there very lives or a family member and that is very hard to replicate with no connections to the club, no in fact it’s impossible.

          • Why? says:

            I already posted but it’s gone, so I’ll try again.

            They should have some sort of connection with the club at the very least be it that they have seen them live, a family/ancestry connection , be in a fan club and go to meets or even that they visited a City . It doesn’t matter if it’s a club that have any chance of winning anything, you can only truly experience the highs if you have suffered the lows, otherwise they can only be fans that are in it for the glory surely. Any body can say I follow Utd or Real and many others because they win that’s pretty easy hence why they may get ridiculed when the reason they follow these clubs is known and rightly so imo. All clubs have a style of play (which changes so what do u do when this happens find another club?), culture and history that’s a daft thing to say.

            You can do a lot more than ‘simply just watch their matches on TV’ you could join or even start a supporters club. Watching on TV mostly makes people fans which is fine but they should try to paint themselves as a supporter that has roots UK or where ever with a club, a five minute fling of a glory hunter doesn‘t cut the mustard when the reason in the first place is success, many fans only watch in the UK too even if they are less than a mile from the supposed club they follow, they are fans not supporters. You can be a supporter anywhere as you can a be fan. The connection of your true supporter is much harder to get as you need to share the moments with like minded people who all want the same more than anything or be there as your 6 yr old cries her eyes out because of a relegation she doesn’t even understand or you won promotion after looking doomed and celebrating with those friends who were filled with dread moments before. In these moments of failure and elation are just some part of the things that makes a supporter it form a closeness to a club that will never be broke. These are bonds a fan would not understand these are the differences between real supporters and fans.

          • Why? says:

            wow the minute I posted it was there

          • Sammy says:

            Again, in all your posts you have only talked about supporters who support a club by way of their connections to it. You seem to be saying that this is the only way anyone can support a club. But you have failed to mention how the huge number of people around the world with NO connections to any club at all should support a club, i.e. people without any “family/ancestral history” (which you somehow seem to assume everyone has) and so on.

            Perhaps you live in the UK, so this matter of supporting a club doesn’t concern you for obvious reasons. But maybe you should try and look into the shoes of other people as well to understand their situation properly first before giving advice like this which makes no sense.

    • Sammy says:

      I’m quite confused about your post here. You’re saying that people who live far away (presumably in other countries) should support clubs that they have connections to. But that’s only possible for those people with any connections to an English team at all.

      But what about those, like me, who don’t? How are we supposed to support a team then, being so far away and without connections to any club? Surely there must be other ways for us to support a team right?

      You have failed to address this important issue.

  9. BigESmalls says:

    I know how you feel. Being a Gunners fan living in Northern Canada, a lot of people see me as a bandwagon fan jumping on the Arsenal train late 2007…even though they haven’t won anything since I started supporting them.

    As you said, it depends what you’re exposed to via television and what attracts you to a certain team. At least up here everybody is so obsessed with hockey that they ignore me and my soccer for the most part.

  10. Christian says:

    Nice read but honestly I don’t care who likes what. As said before, we the fans care far more about the results of these matches than the players themselves. Enjoy what you like and ignore the critics.

  11. Earl Reed says:

    Personality is a big part of it. I am a person who has thrown the “bandwagon” label around my fair share (in fact, a Twitter scrum with Morgan may (or may not) have instigated this post). I grew up a Yankees fan, similarly because it was the only baseball game that was televised in my area. Plus my grandfather had also rooted for the Yankees. I’ll also say – when I rooted for them back in the mid 80′s, they didn’t have the success they enjoyed more recently. Regardless, I can understand the sentiment of, “I root for the team I can watch regularly.” But as I grew up, I divorced myself from baseball entirely, only to come back to it around Y2K, adopting the Phillies as my new team due to geographic concerns (for the record, they sucked then).

    I’m at a point in my life where I can’t have the best team as my favorite team, unless I’ve supported them through the thin years. I couldn’t happen upon Manchester United as my favorite team, it’s just unnatural to me. To others, it’s probably natural to adopt a successful team because they like the football they play. But European football is the one sport where you don’t have the variation, so in my mind its even less genuine to pick those teams. Of course Manchester United will win just about every season, they have the revenue streams to buy up the best players. There were Chelsea years certainly, but when you buy a Manchester United (or Barcelona) shirt, you know that they’re likely going to win. There’s not a whole lot of guessing about it. Here’s a thought: would you buy that shirt if next year the Glazers filed for bankruptcy protection, the club went into administration, and it was sitting bottom of the table???

    • Robin says:

      great points…… i agree with you

      but i’m just confused about one part. you say you chose the Phillies as your new team “due to geographical concerns”. does that mean that you supported them only because you lived near them? in that case, it’s not true loyaly right? from what i got, it shows that you weren’t supporting a team you truly like but merely one that is convenient.

      Hope you will clarify this.

    • MG says:

      I’ll probably sound like a total d**khead saying this, but this is why I truly truly believe (and yes I’m saying this as both a fan but also from a general perspective) that Arsenal is the greatest of the ‘big’ clubs to support. You don’t have the extreme bandwagonesque nature to them like United, where you just know they’re going to win most of the time, and yes, wins feel good, but they are utterly shallow from a fan’s perspective (especially a new fan). And but you have a rich enough history that you’re not rooting for Wigan Athletic (who are balls, lets be honest). It’s the good and the “bad” wrapped in one. The most leveled team to support.

      Just my 2 cents.

  12. Fernando says:

    If Stockport County were in the Premier League and winning trophies there’d be a lot of Stockport supporters/fans in the US.

    The point isn’t how you started following the point is that no matter what happens you will always support them no matter what. That’s a true fan, a true supporter. This is the foundation for any team in any sport that you root for.

    People will always choose the successful team of the moment when they invest their time as a fan.

    There are very few Americans who began watching English football in the 70s,80s or 90s. So when you slag an American supporter of a club don’t forget that the odds are highly likely that your club has the same kind of American supporter.

    • MG says:

      “The point isn’t how you started following the point is that no matter what happens you will always support them no matter what. That’s a true fan, a true supporter. This is the foundation for any team in any sport that you root for.”

      WELL SAID.

      There are millions of people who choose United or Barcelona or currently successful team to root for and be a fan of (most people you see fall into this category).. And yes it can begin as more or less superficial.. but if said fan stays ignorant and only likes the club because ‘they win’ then they are utter bandwagoners. If the superficial introduction becomes heartfelt and grows into a true love where a knowledge and an interest in learning and knowing of the club’s history (where they’ve been, where they are, where they’re going etc) then you’ve graduated into a proper fan.

      I hope that you fall in the latter category, Morgan.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      Fernando, I would argue with your point about snagging off American supporters as most teams have them. I’d say you should have said most top four teams have them. Particularly given you stated your belief that most fans follow those that are successful. The lack of an emotional or geographical tie when making that choice along with televised exposure makes that highly likely and allows the natives to carry on as normal in the most part. It amuses me that people pay an interest in our league from outside but differing regions breed differing fans. My club has a large Scandinavian following, I’ve seen a group of Belgians at the last match and a few from the far east. All are embraced rather than shunned, I assume it’s because we consider then more puddled than us having to make lengthy pilgrimages to show their support in person.

      I suppose the way to look at it is there’s a team for everyone and to try to understand their choice at least before belittling it.

    • Why? says:

      ‘People will always choose the successful team of the moment when they invest their time as a fan.’

      This maybe the way it is in the US but not so much in the UK. I think this is why it seems hard for some here to understand. Don’t get me wrong there are fans like this in the UK as well but on the whole there are other reasons for following a club.

  13. Taylor says:

    I’ve learned for a long time to ignore stupid simple things. I don’t really care anymore what certain people call me or classify me: bandwagon, not a true fan, etc. You don’t need to waste your time dealing with them, you don’t even need to spend a minute of your life for them to explain that you’re not a bandwagoner.

  14. IanCransonsKnees says:

    Glory Hunting Bastard is the preferred terminology over here in the UK. So far as I’m concerned if you’re not from this country you’re free to follow who you want, family or geographical ties wouldn’t exist in the same way.

    However over here the fact that there are 92 professional league teams, all relatively accessible and within reasonable distances means that the GHBs deserve all the stick they get.

    Using this site I’ve learnt as nationalities we consume our sport differently, geography makes it more difficult and more accepted that people in the US can support
    teams from other regions without the stigma attached over here. Geography again necessitates following your team through the small screen rather than in the flesh.

    All swings and roundabouts I think but interesting to consider culturally how we consume our sport differs and conditions our attitudes to one another. The history of the early growth of the game in the UK illustrates how tribal it has always been and I think is one of the reasons why people over here struggle to accept outside interest in the game. I only really clicked the other day that my team celebrates it’s 150th anniversary this season making it the oldest top flight football club on the planet, at the same time the civil war was happening in the US! I suppose it goes to show the sport is sustainable and evolves accordingly, it’ll change again I’m sure, the globalisation of it is just another chapter. I believe we’re not far off franchising and teams moving to wherever people will pay top dollar to see then. I can easily see the top 3 or 4 teams operating in a global super league in the next 20 year’s.

    • Marc L says:

      I’ve lived in England. Trust me, American fans. Just be happy that in the US the worst you’re going to get is some verbal back and forth.

      But you REALLY don’t want to be flagged as a GHB at the wrong place and time if you are over in the UK. FV isn’t remotely what it used to be. But it is there nonetheless.

  15. Chris says:

    People will support the teams they see most on TV. I’m not a big fan of any team in EPL, and probably never will be, as I just appreciate watching the teams play. People like Real Madrid and Barca all over the Western hemisphere because those are the teams that have been shown the most over the last decade, and longer in places like Latin America.

    But, I don’t call anyone else a bandwagon fan, and hate meeting Americans who watch obscure EPL/Championship teams and call others that term. No one cares if you were down with QPR for 5 years, so you went to the UK and watched them. 99 % of American fans will never visit England, so will chose a team based on what they see on TV.

  16. Chelsea MPLS says:

    99 % of American fans will never visit England?

    So you are saying if you walk in any US pub during any EPL game 1 out 100 people or 1 percent of the Pub will have ever been to England ?

    I think that is a pretty outlandish statement. Based on my experience visiting different pubs that show EPL and other leagues, the majority of Americans are well traveled, and have been to the England.

    And if they have not been to England, it is plan in their never future.

  17. Marc L says:

    Okay, it’s like this -

    (rag supporter) “MWAHAHAHAHAH! Your club is crap! Suck it!”

    So what is your response? You can’t really throw club accomplishments back at them because “their” club has more.

    So you just call them a plastic or bandwaggoner and it will agitate them all to hell roughly 100% of the time. Then you ridicule the inevitable response, which is something along the lines of “Oh no, but I was following them in 1991! Was right there for Giggsy’s first match in fact!”

    But c’mon. It’s really all in good fun in the US. Just part of the culture of the game. No one should get too upset over it. Going either way.

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