How I Stopped Hating Every Football Club In The World
As a Manchester City fan, I hate Manchester United, naturally. I really hate Alex Ferguson, for obvious reasons. I hate their day-tripper fans, and the myth that their success was “organic”, done the right way, and built on youth. I hate Arsenal fans almost as much, and their astonishing sense of self-entitlement and moral superiority beggars belief. Their vindictive campaign against Samir Nasri, led by chief-bellend Piers Morgan is disgusting, all perfectly tied in with their deluded notion that no player leaves Arsenal and goes on to better things. I hate Liverpool fans because they think their club is more special than anyone else’s, that their history puts them on a pedestal and entitles them to success. I hated them even more when Kenny Dalglish was manager, I hate them more with the Premiership’s most hated player in their ranks (a Premiership that contains Joey Barton and John Terry), and I hate how they never gave Roy Hodgson a chance. I hate all that bo***cks about a special atmosphere and the Kop “sucking the ball in”. I hate Chelsea because they have hateable players in their squad, an owner who uses them as a plaything, fans who defend alleged acts of racism and hounded the alleged victim. I hate that they have been regularly outspending Manchester City recently yet City are still the poster boys of “buying success” whilst Chelsea splash out without comment. I hate Spurs because like their north London neighbours they have a sense of self-entitlement. I used to hate them even more because I really, really hate Harry Redknapp, the Teflon man, with his mates in the media meaning he gets a free ride. I hate his nefarious activities as spelt out in Tom Bower’s Broken Dreams (available in all good bookshops), I hate how he talks about other teams’ players and unsettles them, as he did with Eyal Berkovic at City. I hate him giving interviews out of car windows, and for having such a nice house. I hate that Spurs kept beating us. I hate Everton for the same reason, and hate Tim Cahill especially for usually heading the winner. I hate David Moyes for blubbing and whining about Joleon Lescott’s transfer for a good two years. City fans hate Everton because of the commonplace violence in away games in the 80s. A (perceived) bad reputation of fans makes plenty of other teams easy to hate. Blackpool were fine until their manager’s tiresome press conferences and toadying up to Alex Ferguson (along with many other sycophants in the managerial game) began to hit home.
West Ham were ok too, but not now that Gold and Sullivan are weaving their magic as owners, with Allardyce on the touchline. I hated Crystal Palace while Jordan was chairman. I hate Ipswich because their fans sneered when we got relegated once. I hate Luton because they relegated us in 1983 and David Pleat ran across the pitch. And because of those portakabins down the side of the pitch. God I hated them, and their bloody ID cards.
I hate Aston Villa because the media portrayed them as the antithesis of City, a club run well and within its means, even though they were £40m in debt. I also had the worst burger I have ever eaten outside Villa Park. I hate Leeds United because of Ken Bates. I hate Stoke because there is always the chance of trouble at games, and we can’t win at their ground.
I hate Wigan Athletic because of Dave Whelan, motor-mouth.
I hate Crawley because they employed Steve Evans, who doesn’t seem very nice. For that reason, I now have to hate Rotherham too. Paolo Di Canio has some debatable political beliefs, so I can’t like Swindon Town either, though he did once push a referee over. Peterborough have twice cost me huge winnings by losing at home – so I hate them. Rangers fans trashed Manchester city centre when in town for the UEFA Cup final, so sod them too. Along with Celtic and both teams’ sectarian nonsense.
As for Millwall, look no further than City having to play at the Den with no away fans because of trouble with their fans and racial abuse of black players. I hate them.
It’s not much better abroad. I hate Bayern Munich. They seem arrogant and try and push UEFA in to implementing rules that suit their needs. I hate AC Milan because of Berlusconi. And Italian football because it is less trustworthy than Joey Barton with a cigar. I don’t like Real Madrid for many reasons, though Jose Mourinho is a good place to start. I don’t like many eastern European sides because of their problems with racism.
And generally, I hate any club that plays music after a goal is scored, or has a band, or even a bell-ringer. I hate Portsmouth.
Did I mention that I don’t like the MK Dons?
But don’t take anything I have said previously that seriously. The problem you see is not Alex Ferguson or Arsenal fans (to an extent), it’s me. All that I have said was to show that I, and I think most fans, seems to exist on hate. It’s a trait much more prevalent in football than any other sport. It seems so easy to fall out with opposition fans, not helped by social media sites which are populated by a vocal minority of numpties. To paraphrase what one twitter user said the other day: “You can be whatever you want on Twitter, so why do so many choose to be idiots?”
And that’s the thing with irrational dislikes – football clubs are massive entities, with a large coaching and managerial staff, a large pool of players, a set of fans that can number millions and a proud history stretching back over a century, but it only takes one individual or one tiny detail at a club for me to take a dislike to them. Grouping fans together is ridiculous, though trends do clearly exist. You can’t call all Liverpool fans sensitive or stupid or loyal or fat or short. Any club has fans that bring shame on their team, in the same way that they have biased fans, stupid fans, intelligent and reasonable fans, and fans that wouldn’t know their arse from their elbow.
Why do we take so easily to hating other teams? It doesn’t happen in other sports. Football is of course tribal, more now than it has ever been, and we mark our territory and stand our ground. We see everything through blinkers, and excuse our own team and fans whilst pouncing on the actions of others. We can’t sit with opposition fans or we will kill each other. Just seeing an opposition fan celebrate a goal against your team is enough to set off a mental rage of fury, featuring abusive language, threats of violence and veins popping out of foreheads. We can’t debate without prejudice, we can’t accept the opposition fans were louder, the opposition team were better, or that the penalty they got was a fair decision. And some rivalries are more deep-seated of course – splits caused by religious differences, historical rivalries between cities, but often nothing more than a fiery game three seasons previous.
But there’s hope for me personally. Maybe the hate was borne out of jealousy, borne out of following a comedy club, a club that stumbled from one catastrophe to another, that underachieved as their neighbours conquered the world. This affects the psyche. It makes for a lot of bitter blues.
But no longer. Success is here. We’ve seen the light, dined at the top table, removed the monkey from our backs, and other assorted clichés. And now I feel more at ease with other clubs and their fans. It’s harder to be negative and bitter about the hand that life has dealt you when you get to watch David Silva and Sergio Aguero every week.
And now I can see the good side of other fans. I love QPR fans for how they celebrated our title win almost as enthusiastically as we did. I love Sunderland fans for doing the same. I have grudging respect for the United fans that congratulated me for City’s title win, and accepted that the better team won, as many did after the FA Cup semi-final the previous season. Millwall have of course worked tirelessly to improve the situation at the club, and all clubs do so much good in the community and for charity that we’d rarely get to know about.
I can’t think of anything bad to say about Norwich or Fulham (except perhaps for an irrational hatred that managers have to cross the pitch to get to the dugout, and Jean Tigana sucking a lollipop all the time. Oh actually, I hate Fulham’s owner). I don’t mind Bolton either. And Stoke fans were excellent at the Cup final last season, and made for an enjoyable and harmonious day (unlike the semi-final), resulting in a new-found respect from me and many others. And as for Chelsea – well all teams have horrible players. So what? Their reaction towards Anton Ferdinand was reprehensible, but would have been repeated by a minority of any club’s fans in the same situation, sadly. And so what if Alex Ferguson is or isn’t a nasty man? If he keeps winning trophies, which is his job, then who cares? It’s all an act with managers anyway, including the way Dalglish treats the media. And as for United – well as a City fan, day-trippers are already part of the match-day experience with us too. That’s the price of success.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, it’s time to be nice. Football is wonderful, and brings us all together. I wonder how long this will last for?
Buy Howard’s book “How It Felt To Be City” – a Manchester City 2011/12 Season Review on Kindle for only £2.50