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If Only Home Supporters Could Behave Like Away Fans

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One of the most impressive sights from this past weekend’s match between Man United and Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park wasn’t just the grit and determination shown by United, who seemed hellbent on pushing for all three points right up until the final whistle. Instead, it was seeing the impressive support from the Manchester United away fans standing at the Darwen End, twirling their scarves above their heads and creating a wonderful atmosphere.

Man United fans aren’t renowned for being boisterous. In the past, Sir Alex Ferguson compared the atmosphere at a recent home match to a funeral. Seven years ago, former United player Roy Keane criticized the supporters in corporate seats for being more interested in the prawn sandwiches than the football. Plus, on my recent trip to Old Trafford, I was surprised too at how quiet the crowd was.

The problem isn’t confined to just Old Trafford. In fact, the issue of quiet home crowds is prevalent throughout the Premier League. From watching matches on TV, home fans — for the most part — act like they’re watching the matches at home on TV, glued to their seats and eyes glazed over.

Unfortunately the Premier League and individual clubs aren’t too concerned about ensuring the atmosphere at grounds remains electric. Clubs could start by increasing the allotment of away tickets to generate more noise at stadiums. But clubs won’t allow this because it’ll reduce the number of season tickets it can sell.

What’s ironic is that many new followers of the Premier League remark how vibrant and jubilant crowds at English football games seem. Compared to many traditional North American spectator sports, it’s not surprising. But when contrasted against the unbelievable sights of what happens in stadiums elsewhere around the globe (such as in Argentina), the crowds at English grounds seem dispassionate. Except, of course, for the away fans.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. The Gaffer

    April 22, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Todd,

    I asked Jim White a similar question today, so you’ll be able to hear his answer when the podcast episode is released in the next 2-3 weeks.

    Thanks for posting your questions. I managed to ask one or two of yours!

    Cheers,
    The Gaffer

  2. Gareth

    April 22, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I will tell you the problem of quite crouds, its due to the stewards telling fans to sit down, theres nothing better that standing up and souting your fav song at the top of ur voice untill the stewards cum along and tell u 2 sit down, its not the same singning sat down.

  3. Todd

    April 22, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    ya know gaffer i was going to bring this up in my questions for jim white. theres a problem in grass roots football with the parents being too rowdy at their kids matches, yet old trafford and other places are turning into a ‘homefield disadvantage’. now i think the reasons for away fans being louder than their home counterparts is obvious…but on a 1:1 basis. when they are outnumbered 20:1 and are still heard clearly…theres a problem. i know united fans in manchester are very passionate, but its not just a matter of them being priced out etc…ive heard friends talk about trying to start chants and songs and being told to sit down and weird looks. the quiet fan has the majority and only small pockets can really be heard. im not sure of a way to combat this.

  4. kat kid

    April 22, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Football supporters in England are much less rowdy/loud than college football fans in the U.S.

    Football ultras around the world are much more creative/rowdy/violent than any other supporters, but at what cost?

  5. LemmusLemmus

    April 22, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Simple explanation:

    a) The group of fans that chooses to travel away is the hardcore lot.

    b) The very act of traveling away puts them in a more boisterous mood. It’s a day out. People on holiday likewise tend to behave more “freely”, or whatever you want to call it.

    It would be really stupid for clubs to increase the share of tickets for away fans given that that would increase the audible support for the away team.

  6. Shakira Graham

    April 22, 2008 at 6:35 am

    I have to applaude my fellow Rams fans this year, as horrible as this year has been Derby fans home and away are always loud, chanting and singing thier hearts out no matter the score.

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