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The crying game, and how to survive it

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BBC Sport blog editor | 18:42 UK time, Thursday, 15 April 2010

The glory game? Not for most of us. A fortunate few might be celebrating championships and cup wins, but for everyone else the last few weeks of the football season bring nothing but worry and dread.

Titles are lost. Relegation looms. Play-off places wink suggestively and then rudely rebuff advances. Sport, the love of our lives, becomes not so much a fickle mistress as an adulterous partner with the morals of an inebriated long-distance sailor.

Trapped in this abusive relationship is the humble fan, powerless to influence the very thing that exerts so much control over our happiness.

Can anything be done to alleviate this awful tension? How best to cope with the grief of season-ending defeats, with the anguish that accompanies an inexorable slide from mid-table obscurity to near-certain relegation?

Beset by footballing fears, desperate for answers, I sought out Phillip Hodson, fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

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"As biological creatures, we need to oscillate between tension and relaxation if we are to survive and thrive," he tells me. "The problems start with tension that's never relieved. When you're anxious about an event or outcome, like the position of your football team, the tension is 24/7."

Last-gasp home defeats to Bristol City should never lead to sleepless nights for anyone but the players involved, but such is the lot of the loyal supporter.

"You can't control the external event, but you can control your reaction to it," advises Hodson. "One of the easiest ways of doing that is to take some fairly vigorous physical exercise. That will make you tired, change your breathing, make you hot and then cool down, and that takes you into the phase of relaxation.

"If that's impossible, you can do it very simply if you clench your fists and squeeze all the muscles in your arms and shoulders as hard as you can for about three seconds, and then let go.

"You can also try to put yourself under a different kind of stress. Give yourself a different deadline. If you have a piece of work to do, that can be a different kind of tension and quite refreshing."

What of mental trickery? Telling ourselves that it doesn't really matter simply doesn't work, but how about thinking of better times, of losing ourselves in nostalgia or delusions of a brighter future? David Hirst has been retired for over a decade now, but thanks to the vaults of YouTube his unparalleled ability to lift the spirits of certain nameless bloggers remains undiminished.

"The trouble is that your brain is at war with your feelings," says Hodson. "Your feelings are one of dread, yet your brain says, well, these things happen.

"It is helpful sometimes to try to picture an image of when you were quite young, a day when you were gloriously happy. Look at that picture, see what the sky is like, and memorise all the elements.

"Imagine the happy picture and dwell on it in your mind when you're at your lowest. Because it's quite hard for the brain to feel both happy and sad, that can work quite well. It will take your mind off it for a while, and it's the release you're looking for."

John Sheridan scores the winner in the 1991 League Cup finalAn example of what for some people is happy moment from the past (Getty)

"Tis better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all," wrote Tennyson, and although Alfred, Lord never experienced the pain of a 4-1 thrashing at rain-soaked Vicarage Road in November, his famous words ring true to this day.

From a philosophical perspective, perhaps we need defeats to truly appreciate the victories. Maybe only through relegation can we truly savour the bliss of a 2-1 win at home to a rudderless Peterborough.

"If you want to feast you must fast," confirms Phillip. "If you want to enjoy your team's sporting success, there must be a contrast. If it was all 6-0 victories, it would be very boring. Being beaten is part of the game.

"Unless you care about the fate of your team, unless you're in love with them on some level, you can't experience that joy. But because you are in love with them, you are going to be let down at some point. Becoming vulnerable to the good stuff makes you vulnerable to the bad stuff. It's what we call unavoidable unhappiness.

"All love ends in pain at some stage. Even if you live happily with a wife or husband for 60 years, someone has to die first."

Fearing we were moving into somewhat morbid waters, I steered the conversation back to practical matters. Should the worst happen and the relegation whirlpool suck your boat down, is it better to drown your sorrows alone or with your fellow shipmates?

"We all grieve in different ways," says Hodson. "The thing is, does your method work? If you want to throw yourself into work for a while, or to tell yourself you don't care, that's fine - it's part of the grieving process. But if it's all about denial, your grief will still catch you up at some stage. You will be ambushed by the bad feelings.

"Anything that helps you get through that time is good. Sometimes the first thing to do is just to accept your feelings.

"It's good to feel, it's horrible not to. If the feeling part of your brain doesn't work, you can't even tell me what you want for dinner."

What of our real-life partners? Despite their best intentions, not all can appreciate what the distraught fan is going through. Can the offer of a cup of green tea assuage the bitter sting of defeat at Middlesbrough to a flukey deflected goal? Experience of those close to the author would suggest not.

"If you know that your partner is upset, don't try to tell them it doesn't matter, or that it's only a sport," advises Hodson. "Instead, say something like, 'I can see you're gutted, I won't say another word'.

"There are many people who can't access football emotionally or mentally. If, for you, football is life and death, yet you're living with someone like that, they need to work quite hard to be supportive.

"It's not about '11 silly men kicking a ball into a net', it's about whether your partner's feelings of distress matter to you. If they don't matter, you don't have a relationship.

"What's interesting is that supporters of the team that wins have a much higher sex drive than supporters of the team that loses, and they often express it. Try to upset that research by making yourself do it that night, or be a great lover, because you'll get a sense of euphoria from it."

So there we have it. Go for a long run, throw yourself into work or put in a blinder between the sheets. Or, should you have the energy, attempt all three. Administration - where is thy sting?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Beautiful

  • Comment number 2.

    Great article, sums up how I always feel at this time of the year. The nerves are unbelievable, usually (as a Leeds fan) followed by enormous depression. The worst I've ever felt after a defeat was after the 2008 Play-off defeat to Doncaster. I went down to London on my own, meeting up with my cousin for the match before heading straight back up on my own sat on Manchester bound coach full of horrible Man U fans. Everyone in my house was on holiday so I don't think I spoke to anyone for days afterwards. My advise, get out and do something pro-active, don't wallow in self pity. I did and it contributed towards not achieving my potential in my university finals (that's my excuse anyway)!

  • Comment number 3.

    First!!

    Seems to be going on in all levels at Spotland this season!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 5.

    Just out of interest, any stories where a person's football team has lead them to commit suicide?

  • Comment number 6.

    I love how the picture link on the main page is of a crying Reading fan... just like the other half! With her being a Royal and me a Gooner we've had equal measures of consoling one another this season, but nothing has made me as happy as when Reading got their first home win in nearly a year.

    At least neither of us will ever say 'it's just a game' - we're both as bad as each other.

  • Comment number 7.

    Can anyone tell me if it works to do vigorous exercise before watching a game or is it only beneficial afterwards. I will do an hour in the gym before kick off tomorrow if that's the case!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Philip Hodgson's comments about winning and losing struck a chord ("If you want to enjoy your team's sporting success, there must be a contrast. If it was all 6-0 victories, it would be very boring. Being beaten is part of the game.") It sums up one of the reasons I struggle to understand Home Counties-based Man U fans (or Liverpool, or Chelsea supporters who come from Basildon, etc etc). Isn't it boring choosing to follow a team who you expect to win every game? I count myself lucky I'm a West Ham fan and such boredom is not likely to trouble me!

    Oh btw, Tom, your blog should end "where is THY sting?". "Thou" is the same as "you" and "where is YOU sting?" is just arrant gibberish.

  • Comment number 9.

    Absolutely pathetic.
    Grown men and women crying over a game of football. What is worse, the young people copy this stupidity.
    Get a life, an interest, instead of being absorbed in today's hype and trivia that seems to absorb most of England today.
    Grow up.

  • Comment number 10.

    What is going on I didn't realize football was real!

  • Comment number 11.

    9. At 2:20pm on 16 Apr 2010, jamesmcconnell wrote:
    Absolutely pathetic.
    Grown men and women crying over a game of football. What is worse, the young people copy this stupidity.
    Get a life, an interest, instead of being absorbed in today's hype and trivia that seems to absorb most of England today.
    Grow up.

    -------------

    Find something to live for or find something to die for... either way find - and BELIEVE in - something that is not just about YOU, then you might understand why people 'cry about a game of football'

    Come on you Gills

  • Comment number 12.

    Not a footie fan then James? C'mon stop sitting on the fence and say what you mean. LOL

  • Comment number 13.

    "What's interesting is that supporters of the team that wins have a much higher sex drive than supporters of the team that loses, and they often express it."

    -------------------------

    Must be a lot of unhappy wives in Peterborough this season.

  • Comment number 14.

    As a Dundee United fan who was present for our 7.1 hammering from rangers in december I feel our cup victory over them and reaching the scottish cup final this season tastes even sweeter - you have to go through the hard times to really enjoy and appreciate the good times.

    i just hope we win the cup now!

  • Comment number 15.

    Well The Arsenal fans can attest to this. Our manager is playing out his early career fantasy(from Monaco) with our club.Hope there's a takeover or this will go on for years.

  • Comment number 16.

    Trafford-White - has it made you a stronger man?

    DaveDLC - before, after, during - it's all good.

    Rob - thanks for the tip - hereby tweaked.

    jamesmcconnell - I fear you might be on the wrong site...

  • Comment number 17.

    Jamesy, you're trying to take a stand just for the heck of it, I s'pose.

  • Comment number 18.

    #9 jamesmcconnell wrote:
    Absolutely pathetic.
    Grown men and women crying over a game of football.

    -------------------------

    Although unlike this contributor, I AM passionate about football, I agree that shedding tears at a football match is pathetic. I've never been able to reconcile this sort of behaviour. The only people crying right now should be supprters of clubs like Chester, where the club has ceased to exist and they REALLY have something to cry about.

    If your team gets relegated, its fine to be gutted, to kick the dog and make your wife's life a misery for a few weeks, but come August we'll all be back, the previous season will be forgotten and we'll realise there was nothing to cry about.

  • Comment number 19.

    A cracking article Tom, I'll have to put some of this to the test to help me cope with the build-up to Sunday...

  • Comment number 20.

    I love football and i'm very passionate about my side Leicester City. I used to be one of them people who say "crying when your teams relegated is pathetic!".......cue the season 2007/2008....relegation at the end of that season and I was blubbing like a baby!! I think it comes from months of anxiety and anticipation!! (Thats what I tell myself anyway!!)I think when you spend so much time supporting the team and if you think about it how much of your time do you put into your club I'm not suprised we get all emotional!!!
    I'm hoping to be crying come May but crying happy tears of promotion!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    @ 5

    I'm sure I read a story about how an already severely depressed man who followed Liverpool hung himself at half-time of the Liverpool v Milan Champions Legue Final, whilst it was still 3-0 to Milan. Not sure if the end result of the game would have had a bearing but you never know.

  • Comment number 22.

    When I was a kid I was really passionate about my team..Nottingham Forest. Yes, I was even upset when they lost, not to the point of tears though!

    Then a funny thing happened...I grew up!

    Sure, I still have a passing interest in the team and check the results to see how they are doing, and I get into the WCUP and Euro Championshp when England are playing....but I really cannot understand people who get so wrapped up in their football business (team) to the point where their whole week is ruined if their team lose on Saturday.

    People really need to get a grip. If people put as much money, passion, time and effort into improving themselves as they did football...then the world would be a better place.

    It's only putting an inflated ball in a net...it's nothing important. Your team's success or failure does not reflect on you.

  • Comment number 23.

    Being a supporter of Grimsby Town I just want it to end ASAP. A very disloyal part of me would even welcome a defeat to Torquay on Saturday so I could have a good blub and return to some sort of normality. The thought of relegation consumes me; I keep going through different scenarios (points predictors etc) if we win that game and they only pick up a point and then they lose to them and....JUST STOP IT.
    And it takes over your dreams...Histon, Ebbsfleet, Barrow - do these places really exist?
    This is the third consecutive season the trap door has beckoned and my nerves are finally shredded.
    What's that? Barnet have gone into administration? No, just a cruel rumour....


  • Comment number 24.

    Great article and only real sports fans understand the emotional impact our team has on us - it usually takes me 2 to 3 hours to get over a loss and i sometimes wake up at night still analysing the game.
    Having been a Woking fan for years and seen us struggle in the BSP until we finally got relegated to the BSS last year, i'm already nervous about our away game tomorrow vrs St Albans which we must win to have a chance of securing a play-off spot.
    My wife nevers understands why i stand there effectively talking to myself about the game (especially when we lose.
    Best feeling in my life at a sports event - not Woking winning numerous FA Trophies in the 90s but avoiding releagtion from the Conference in 2003 by beating Telford at home and waiting (almost unbearably) for the Nuneaton result that went our way. The personal and collective sense of relief at the ground was palpable - tears; embraces - cathartic indeed.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ #9

    If your not a football fan and you consider passion about football to be pathetic, why on earth are you reading (and replying to) a blog about football by a BBC Football commentator?

    It sounds like you might be the one that needs to get a life.

  • Comment number 26.

    "It's not about '11 silly men kicking a ball into a net', it's about whether your partner's feelings of distress matter to you. If they don't matter, you don't have a relationship.

    I'm going to tattoo this to my girlfriends forehead...

  • Comment number 27.

    I suppose it depends on who you support. If you are desined for a life of mediocrity, i.e. a Macclesfield fan then I suspect you get used to it. Or perhaps a Birmingham fan, who sees more up and downs than a lift in Harrods!

  • Comment number 28.

    Very wise words. Very applicable to most football fans, apart from the lucky few who have attached themselves to the likes of Chelsea and Man Utd.

  • Comment number 29.

    Tom, I am Chelsea season ticket holder, and have absorbed the highs of the League champions and the lows of European semi-final tragedies.

    Yet I agree with jamesmcconnell. We need to put things in perspective. Sure, it is devastating when an unfit ref robs my team of a European final, or we mess up the penalty kick that would have brought us the holy grail. But it is a slight bother when we think of the mothers digging their dead children out of the rubbles in Palestine, or innocent human beings being massacred in Iraq, or children being kidnapped in Africa and brought to our shores to be sold as sex toys.

    I am very bothered when my team is subject to injustice and hard luck. But I am more upset and angry when I seen and hear of injustice and crimes against benevolent, innocent human beings around the world.

  • Comment number 30.

    I see James's point, even if I detest the way he makes it.

    I'm passionate about Swansea City, I've seen the highs and lows, great victories (as a 4th division side against top league West Ham in the cup), humiliating defeats (vs. Blackpool this season was particularly bad) and near relegation from teh football league. Yet have only every cried twice because of my club, the day that it was confirmed that we would not be going out of business 10 years ago and when I heard about Terry Coles death.

    It is a passion that lives in me, that helps define me is some small way, but it is not life and death, it never will be for anything that happens on the field, head in hands in frustration at the end of a game or season yes, but there is always next time, next game, next year for it all to start over again.

    Not so secretly we enjoy it of course, the suspense, the tension, even the dissapointment, for they make the moments of joy so much more. But never ever should it lead us to grief.

  • Comment number 31.

    Is this by any chance based on Sheffield Wednesday's fans feelings at the moment?

    Memories of beating Man Utd in the League Cup with the picture of a past glory, losing to a deflected shot at Middlesborough, as happened last weekend, and a poor last 10 minute loss against Bristol City.

    Think I'll be putting all the information about sporting grief to good use when we lose on Sunday and my housemates don't understand what I'm crying about!!

  • Comment number 32.

    As an Aston Villa fan, I hate the run in at the end of the season.

    I hate the fact that a football team can affect me so much. Every season just brings so much hope and then so much disappointment.

    The great thing about this though is that when we finally do win something, it will be really worth celebrating!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Sorry but football is a sport to enjoy people who cry over it should just slap themselves at embrassment! you look pathetic be a man and grown up stop acting like a wimp because your team lost a final or you concede a goal ! its football not one of your family members dying those cry at football are SAD!

  • Comment number 34.

    I've always found the pain of missed glory is far worse than the pain of your team's demise. I'm a Tranmere fan and feel only mild anger towards our current state. It looks at the moment that we'll most definately be relegated, and when that happens, I doubt I'll shed a tear.

    Put that into contrast with last season; Scunthorpe's 89th minute equaliser against us on the final day meant they went into the play offs at our expense. I cried for a solid 45 minutes preceeding the goal. No matter how silly I felt, and how hard I tried to stop, I could not.

    I guess the big difference is relegation comes as no surprise after a season of rubbish football. I was at Prenton Park on Tuesday night, and quite frankly it would be an injustice to world football if we beat the drop. The chance of glory brings the chance to dream, and smashed dreams are the hardest thing to accept.

  • Comment number 35.

    It is all too easy for the critics to say it is only a game. They aren't the people who pay thousands of pounds each year, trapsing around the country on a wet midweek evening to see a 0-0 draw.

    In some aspects it is harder to support a football team than a woman. She can cook for you, give you presents and comfort you. For the majority of football fans their teams offer them nothing. Albeit that one thing we hold onto... hope.

    Im a Leeds fan, hope is all I have had for the past couple years. And the club has let me and all the other Leeds fans down time after time. When we win, the next week is a breeze. If we lose I know a week full of taunting will follow.

    Playoff Final 2006
    Relegation 2007
    Playoff Final 2008
    Playoff Semis 2009

    We havent had a lot to cheer about up in Leeds as you can see from the last 4 years above. But I can guarantee that if we do get promoted all those downs will make the ups feel a hell of a lot better.

  • Comment number 36.

    Football IS life, end of. :)

  • Comment number 37.

    Tom Fordyce wrote:
    I cover cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics and - well, most sports except monkey-tennis.

    =========================================

    Partridge reference?

    If so, kudos.

  • Comment number 38.

    I don't believe in crying when my team loses or concedes a goal however it can really change my mood for purhaps the next couple of days depending what sort of result it was. However I felt towards the end of this article about partners dealing with fans that are upset when they are not fans is first class. Parners often do not understand and think like some people have commented that we are 'pathetic' however we are not, for me football is what I live for.

    Finally to quote Bill Shankley
    "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you it's much more serious than that."

  • Comment number 39.

    People used to say to me (some still do) 'Why do you support Man City - they're rubbish?'
    I always try to explain that when supporting a more succesful team, victories may occur more often but they means less. Defeats may be rare but they hurt so much more. It's the opposite for a weaker team so in a way, things even themselves out.
    For supporters of teams that are consistently winning games, it's inevitable that you'll get used to the taste of victory and evetually, take it for granted. Victory is expected, it's the norm. They'll be pleased when they win but rarely will they be ecstatic or overjoyed. Sometimes i think that the pressure and expectation is so high that victory merely brings relief rather than joy.
    Defeat for these teams will be devestating as they won't be used to it and it doesn't happen often enough to learn how to handle it - Just look at Fergie or Wenger this year whenever their team loses.
    It's similar to the way that everyone assumes the rich and famous must be really happy as they have many things that most of us aspire to have (money, fast cars, luxury houses etc) - the problem is that after a while, they take these things for granted...

  • Comment number 40.

    Iam a Man United supporter and never get bored of their wins. Infact they just make make hungrier for more. Iam I an exception to the rule?

  • Comment number 41.

    Finally to quote Bill Shankley
    "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you it's much more serious than that."

    Er...no it isn't.

  • Comment number 42.

    Finally to quote Bill Shankley
    "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you it's much more serious than that."

    Er...no it isn't.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Since when have you been able to decide other peoples beliefs?

  • Comment number 43.

    READINGFC.

    Come off it. Do you really believe that football is "more important than life and death"??!!

    If you do then you need to get a life!

  • Comment number 44.

    I don't really cry over football, but I do get moody. Not just about Arsenal's results but about the results of the semi-pro team that I coach in particular. If we lose on a Saturday I rarely go and see my girlfriend on that evening, because I'll be in a bad mood and we'll end up arguing. It's better that I stew on a Saturday night and then go over and make her breakfast on a Sunday morning by which time I've cheered up and put it behind me.

    It works for us.... and the Saturday nights when we've won...... well the sex drive thing is definitely true in my experience!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    I didn't say it was I was showing a quote to show that people think it is. I am not Bill Shankley

  • Comment number 46.

    @ 39 el_nino_81
    Couldn't agree more. Something must be lost when you start to take your team's victories for granted. It is particularly amusing to hear Arsenal fans bemoaning their lot because they can "only" hope for third place this season. THIRD! I'd be ecstatic to get three more points, never mind third place!

  • Comment number 47.

    And the Bill Shankly comment is often quoted as him being serious - but it was firmly tongue in cheek.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 43 expat 73
    Would you be so derisive of someone who cried when their pet dog died? Because for a lot of fans (and, cards on the table, I'm NOT one) supporting their team takes on that level of attachment and commitment. And if someone invests that degree of emotion in something (ANYTHING!) when failure comes along (and sooner or later it does for everything: Man U/Chelsea/Arsenal fans read Ozymandias!) the result is devastating.

  • Comment number 49.

    @23 - for future reference, Ebbsfleet doesn't really exist

  • Comment number 50.

    #22 - you said it yourself. You don't understand.

  • Comment number 51.

    I have cried several times over football matches, in several situations. The most painful ones are the lasp gasp defeats, here are my examples:

    - Michael Thomas's last minute goal against Liverpool at anfield. (I was a kid and a Liverpool supporter at the time, I cried my eyes out lol)

    - Euro 2000 (Portugal v France semifinal). Zidane's Golden Goal in extra time deprived us of our first ever final.

    - Euro 2004 (Portugal v Greece final). Losing a final at home probably the worst footballing experience I have had. My tears soon turned to anger because we should have beat them and we missed an opportunity that we will probably never get again.

    - As for my club Benfica, the last time i cried was with joy, when we won the league in the final game of the season in 2005 after 11 years without a league win. Hopefully I will cry again this year as we are 6 points clear with 4 games to play :)

  • Comment number 52.

    "All love ends in pain at some stage. Even if you live happily with a wife or husband for 60 years, someone has to die first."

    ...thanks, I was feeling a little anxious about the Grecians' league footing, but now I'm really cheered up!!

  • Comment number 53.

    Cool article.

    I think with football; you're either a believer or a non-believer. To those who trivialise the obsession and question the time, money and emotional energy consumed through supporting a football team, I say to you: we are aware that, like many human obsessions, it's not logical, we are also aware that you will never truly understand.

    Through supporting a team, particularly your local team, you become part of something rather special. As a supporter you are given a sense of pride and belonging that is all too rare. This opportunity to belong and triumph reaches-out and extends itself to vast sways of society in a way that few alternatives are able to. Football, and sport in general, crosses and breaks-down numerous social boundaries and links together people who would not usually associate. Cobbled together supporters share and show emotion for, and unite behind, one common entity.

    Whist uniting, football also divides in an unparalleled way as rival supporters sit end-from-end at grounds and pub tables taunting and mocking. Even in the midst of these, at times hateful, exchanges there is still an underlying understanding that the opposing supporter has felt the hurt of a humiliating loss and the ecstasy of a late winner. That play on the extremes of human emotion - to win or to loose - born from your pride and selfless love of your club, ultimately unites us all as fans. Football is a truly global obsession and completely beyond comparison in terms of mutual support, dedication and understanding - that in itself says so much.

    Incidentally; I'm a Baggies fan, so terrific highs and soul-destroying lows are a seasonal occurrence!

    BOING BOING

  • Comment number 54.

    Fantastic article tom!

    I find it fantastic that the people who are commenting on the lines of "I think it's pathetic if you cry, it's just a game", all seem to have names suggesting they are fans of either man u, Liverpool, arsenal or Chelsea! Proves your point exactly.

    An as a fan of a team who get a lot of stick from the press and fans of other teams regarding attendance (Bolton), it makes me realise that I'm very lucky to support a team where only 15,000 turn up, but every single one of them would cry if the need arose (and with megson in charge it nearly did). I'd much rather that than take a seat in the "theatre of dreams" and be surrounded by 80,000 people who didn't really care.

  • Comment number 55.

    One of the reasons that I love football so much is that it is a microcosm of human nature.

    Being human is about opinions, beliefs, feelings and emotion. As much as we try to detach our brains from the situation we are in and apply logic and clear thought to a solution the overwhelming majority of us can't do that - even the very few who can are the exception that prove the rule.

    If you need any more proof of this, those commenters above who clearly dislike football still feel "moved" to post on this page. If they really didn't care about football they wouldn't even bother reading, let alone posting . . .

  • Comment number 56.

    Tom, in answer to your question: 'has it made me a stronger man?'The answer is, probably not. Despite the tribulations of following the Mighty Whites it's addictive as the most powerful drug, just as expensive and probably just as bad for your health. During this past few weeks I've struggled to sleep and this very afternoon I've got pre-match nerves for tonight's big League 1 clash, we're not even involved! I've travelled continents and have woken up on the rim of the Grand Canyon to a Leeds defeat to Oldham, the results of the Whites are key to my moods. I'm a placid guy but I get totally engulfed by the pure emotion of football, it's the purest of sports. Bring on May for the huge release of a final day promotion. Oh, and then I've some more exams!

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm glad for the 1st time in years as Blackburn fan we actually have had nothing to play for since we lost cup semi in February

  • Comment number 58.

    Well for anyone who thinks that crying being part of supporting a team is pathetic, obviously just dont understand the emotions behind the game.

    No one can explain WHY - just accept that it HAPPENS. Football is a religion, its HUGE. People like post 9 dont understand the depth of passion that football has. Its not the biggest game in the world by a country mile unless it draws out peoples' emotions.

    They really dont understand. In fact no one really does. However, it is the beautiful game and will continue to draw out the biggest emotions of any sport until the world comes to an end.

    Cry all you like, its probably better for you.

  • Comment number 59.

    I am being followed by a Wagnerian "damsel", tonsils quivering. I'm an Argyle fan. I live in dread (just outside Plymouth). The season has come to this; and it's not going to get any better.

    As a supporter, I have no choice. I can't NOT follow my team, and I can't NOT be affected by their bumble bee-esque journeying through the lower reaches of the League. The only dizzy heights I'll ever experience is being up the Eiffel Tower. Mind you, beating Darlo in 1996 at Wembley with 34000 other nutters was unforgettable. I'll ALWAYS be a supporter, but on some dark days, all the lights in the world are not enough.

    We come and we go, but we're always Green.

    Peace

    Lyndhurtman



  • Comment number 60.

    lyndhurstman - that could be my favourite blog comment of the month so far

  • Comment number 61.

    Some of the comments on here are awfully thought out.
    People can go to a music gig and it can be so monumentally good that it brings the person to tears of joy...

    What I appreciate and love about being a football fan, is that it's a total release. I could've had the worst week ever, but at the match, in the stadium with the partizan and supportive atmosphere you can just let go of your emotions.

    The joy of football is that moment, where every man and his dog are saying it's over. The Swansea fans are boasting "you'll never beat the Jacks" and then Chopra getting on the end of a flick on in the 90th, 1 on 1 with the 'keeper. The net bulges, the stadium erupts. Even the most reserved of fans are embracing each other, kissing, screaming extatically in each others faces...

    To suggest there should be no flip side to these emotions suggests that some posters would prefer sport to be dull and lifeless.

  • Comment number 62.

    To all those who say that football is just 'silly men kicking an air-filled bladder around a field' ...
    Every human endeavour is essentially futile in the grand cosmic scheme of things; be it war, politics, art, or even procreation for that matter.
    The simple truth is that we are mortal, emotional creatures!
    Who would choose a life of banal 'sameness', with no emotional highs or lows?
    It doesn't matter where those highs or lows come from. It only matters that we feel and enjoy them. That we feel alive!
    Whether it is the joy of first witnessing my unborn child move inside his mother's womb during an ultrasound scan and hearing the sound of a tiny new heart ...
    Or whether it is the thrill of cheering City to another goal-filled victory against United in the Manchester derby tomorrow ...
    Each experience is as emotionally meaningful as I choose to make it!
    And yes ... I am drunk right now.

  • Comment number 63.

    Tears are the bodies way of letting go of emotion, I am a Leicester fan and 50+ yrs old. I have cried twice, well shed tears, once after we narrowly avoided relegation to the old third division for the first time ever and the other was the last game I saw at Leicester, which was actually the last game at the old Filbo before I moved to the US.

    The first time was just a release of all the tension that had built up over the last weeks of the season and the long, long (few minutes) wait for the result of another game which went our way. The second utter sadness that 50 years of watching footy every Saturday was coming to an end.

    Football is an emotional game and a addictive drug, I cannot escape it, I even became a ref to stay involved here.

    To those who say get a life or grow I say get a soul for you are lost....

  • Comment number 64.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with shedding a tear over football, and have been guilty of this twice myself.

    Euro 2000, Holland v Italy in the semis. As the host nation expectations were high anyway, and when Italy have a man sent off in the first half these are raised even further. During the match Holland manage to miss 2 penalties and the game goes to penalties which they go on to lose 3-1. I think Stam's penalty is stil orbiting round Earth as I type this.

    Yeovil 2-3 Hereford (Conference) - Now at this time only one team ever got promoted to the football league, and Yeovil had been a non-league team for over 100 years. Yeovil had been top of the league for many weeks until Rushden went on their amazing run, and then came the visit of Hereford. At the time they were our most bitter rivals, and with this being the penultimate game, only a win would do for Yeovil. Yeovil are 2-1 down but manage to get a late leveller which wouldn't completely end their chances of promotion. But Hereford had other ideas, and in front of the travelling support they snatch a late late winner, which in the process shattered thousands of Yeovil hearts. When would we ever get a chance of promotion to the holy grail of the football league again? Was this our only chance? If only Southport hadn't done the double over us. Blimey, I even travelled up to Leigh RMI on a cold, wet Tuesday evening in pursuit of this dream, only for it to vanish in front of my eyes.

    I think a tear was allowed.

  • Comment number 65.

    One thing commentators don't seem to realise is that relegation is an opportunity. I mean as a Newcastle United fan I have loved this season. Been to some grounds full of quality fans. Not a quiet one amongst them and the Toon Army has never been better. Really brought us together.

  • Comment number 66.

    One match still haunts me after nearly 20 years.

    4th July 1990 England V Germany in Italia '90.

    I watched the game unfold in a pub in Blackpool town centre and as the final whistle blew, I simply stood up from my chair and walked out of the door.

    I actually walked home that night, reliving EVERY moment. From the sheer ecstacy of Gary Lineker's goal to the inevitable penalty miss and absolute desolation.

    The walk home was nearly seven miles but I don't remember anything about it.

    I got home at about midnight and my wife was waiting up for me. She knew the result and asked was I OK. She told me the next day I looked awful as if something terrible had happened.

    I sat in the lounge staring at a blank TV screen for hours.

    That's scary. That is how much football can affect someone.

    As for supporting Blackpool? Don't get me started on that one.

    I WILL depress you!

  • Comment number 67.

    Tom - do you really feel that you're in need of counselling? I have been watching football for well over 50 years and its true that when your teams winning you feel great (for a while) and when they lose you feel rotten (for a lot longer); however if its getting to the stage where you need counselling, I should give up watching it son!
    Talk to the lads returning from Afganistan about what they have seen and you will understand where the real need for counselling exists.

  • Comment number 68.

    Good blog,
    Some very immature people here posting useless comments about growing up and so forth.
    Football is a passion, whether playing at any level as well as supporting it. If you shed tears regularly, then you have personal issues that need to be sorted out, But to cry a couple times within your life over something football connected is simply human and unavoidable at times due to the love of the sport.

  • Comment number 69.

    I tell you right now that if England lose in the World Cup Final (if we get there that is) I would cry like a baby.

    I've cried over England (in my younger days I hasten to add) many a time. 1996 and 1998 were the worst. Maybe its penalties that do it? Maybe its the nature of it being so intense for such a short period of time that.

    To be honest though, I blame the media for making me believe every time that England can win an internation competition and then when it doesn't happen I feel like I've been robbed.

  • Comment number 70.

    Interesting that most of the comments here reflect the heartbreak of a last gasp goal conceded. I think when your team's really deep in it you just get on and accept it. I seem to recall being fairly philosophical most of the season before last when Fulham seemed destinated to go down. In contrast the worst I've felt all this season was Roma's last minute equaliser (equaliser!) at the Cottage in the Europa League (Europa League!). I didn't cry but I was pretty damn miserable for a while. Maybe it's something to do with the shock?
    By the way, loving comments from the big four about 'Champions league semi-final heartbreak'. God, it's a hard life.
    But in response to the earlier queries about suicide, there was a story on this website last year about an Arsenal fan in Kenya (I would put 'fan' in inverted commas were it not for the fact it clearly meant so much to him) who killed himself after last season's Champions League defeat to Man Utd. From the story I don't think it was the result so much but all his 'mates' taunting him. Always depresses me just how vicious some sports fans can be to their rivals' - friendly banter is one thing but I have seen it get a bit personal - that is the point where I really do think, it's only a game.
    Finally, to all those saying 'grow up', I revert with Albert Camus: 'All that I know most surely about morality and the obligations of men I owe to football... '

  • Comment number 71.

    As a Luton Town of over 45 years standing ,I have been through many highs and lows over those years.Yes. most fans have been through ups and downs, celebrating the odd promotion or good cup run / win and suffering relegation now and again. Ever since the last war Luton fans have been on a real roller-coaster, promotion to the "old "Div 1, embley Cup Finalists in 1959, relegation down to Div 4 by 1966 ( that's when I came in )promotion back to Div1 by 1974, then came the halycon days between 1982 and 1992 at the top level which included Wembley visits and a glorious last -minute triumph over Arsenal in 1988. All that time I was usually there, usually feelingtense and naseous if we were hanging onto a narrow lead, ( or trying to get level when being a goal down )If I couldn't go my heart would be thumping as ten to five approached and the videoprinter was chattering ut those all-important results. I knew, logically, for a club the size of Luton it couldn't last-we didn't have the financial clout. Of course I was disappointed when Luton found themselves back in the bottom division in 2001( and was equally pleased when it only proved to be for one year) By now I didn't go much but still suffered the same anxieties waiting for the result) As a qualified counsellor, I should have been able to deal with it-- and yes, telling yourself it doesn't matter just does not work -- but even I was absolutely floored by the events of the past couple of years. Truthfully, I still haven't got over the double -kicking we took from the F.A. and F.L. in the summer of 2008 and our subsequent demotion out of the Football League. It was honestly like the death of a close relative
    and I still have times when I feel vindictive towards those I hold responsible.Ups and downs I can tolerate but I never thought that LutonTown would go out of the League. Now it looks as if we will have to do it the hard way--via the Play -Offs --more tension !But if we do manage it it will mean more to me than all the other Promotions and Cup success put together.

  • Comment number 72.

    never a truer word written!

  • Comment number 73.

    Since Arsenal are now out of the title race and Brighton are pretty much safe from relegation (touch wood), my interests now lie with some of the leagues around Europe. Not too long ago it wasn't an unrealistic thought that there could be three new champions on the continent, as Braga were top of the Portuguese Liga, FC Twente were leading the Dutch Eredivisie, and Bayer Leverkusen looked set to finally win the German league after so many disappointments. Now, Braga are out of the running, Leverkusen need Munich AND Schalke to slip, and Twente - though they lead by a point with two games remaining - are going to have to pull their socks up and get maximum points because Ajax aren't going to drop any from here. There is light, however - Roma look like finally ending Inter's reign of dominance in Italy, and Marseille have a glorious opportunity to end their almost two-decade trophy drought. But, apart from that, it looks like business as usual around the continent.

  • Comment number 74.

    Interesting to see the kind of commonsensical advice out of favor in the US (except for self-help books). It's all good advice, actually, and contains my favorite bit of self-help for anyone: get some exercise. To be more specific, Play! Exercise conjures up someone puffing away on a treadmill, which is like, well, being on a treadmill. Play, on the other hand, is friends bantering and cursing and little moments of triumph and disaster. It doesn't matter what you play, and it has to be something that's suitable for your fitness level, but especially if it involves a bit of exercise, you'll feel better about the world if you play something regularly: football, tennis, golf, you name it. I'll stand down from the pulpit now...

  • Comment number 75.

    My remedy: get a life

  • Comment number 76.

    Being a Wolves fan I've lived through some ups & downs following the club over the last 30 years.

    Consecutive relegations from 1st to 2nd to 3rd to 4th divisions & now back to the Premiership has been, well, ...emotional.

    We had some enormous losing streaks. Those were bad, but the worst part was every now & then they would give you hope, lift everyone out of their comfortable depression...and when those hopes were dashed it was just crushing.

    I am still upset by our play-off defeat at Bolton 15 years ago, even though we've since been promoted twice & are currently doing fine. The pain & bitterness & injustice of that game is still real. That memory finally softened when we won the play offs in 2002/3, when even at 3-0 up with 5 minutes left we were genuinely expecting to blow it. That painfully nurtured pessimism is hard to shake off.

    There was never a time when we didn't believe we wouldn't get back into the Premier League. I'm sure Leeds & Swansea fans feel just the same...having had very similar rollercoaster rides through the divisions, and now both on the verge of promotion. Once again that 'hope' thing will be the killer blow if they don't get up.

    "To have loved & lost' & all that is so true. You have to lose it all to really know what you've lost, and to then truly appreciate it again. When we beat Spurs for the first time in forever...I can guarantee we were on a higher high than the Chelsea fans will be if, as expected, they beat Spurs tomorrow. Its no big deal for them. They are going to win the title anyway.

    I've never really understood the glory hunter bandwagon mentality, of supporting a side simply because they are good & will win everything. Likewise, they can never understand why anyone can follow a losing side. For me I was born into it, into a Wolves family since the 19th century. Its never been just about the football...its about me, and the community I'm from. Win or lose we are in it together.

    As for grown men crying being pathetic...well my wife was in tears after Arsenal's 95th minute winner against us 2 games ago after we'd defended like the Alamo for 94 minutes. She's a dedicated fan but more recent (8 years) & is not used to the disappointment. American's generally can't handle the passion, cause there's nothing like it here in the USA. No concept of promotion or relegation in any sport, so every game is relatively meaningless. Thats why its all cheerleading & all action entertainment cause the result is unimportant, & they just want entertainment. I just smiled...Welcome to my world!

  • Comment number 77.

    #26
    "It's not about '11 silly men kicking a ball into a net', it's about whether your partner's feelings of distress matter to you. If they don't matter, you don't have a relationship.

    I'm going to tattoo this to my girlfriends forehead...


    Well, you are going to have to get it tattooed mirrored, otherwise she will never be able to read it. The alternative of course is to get it tattooed on your forehead :-)

  • Comment number 78.

    Also, can I just add, saw a clip from Cemetry Junction and a guy says do you want to be known only for supporting Reading Football Club and liking pickled onions.

    Spooky, because that describes me perfectly. Nothing wrong with it. Better than liking Gerkins. Now that is sad.

  • Comment number 79.

    Personally I just don't get it, basing self esteem and hapopiness on events that are beyond yoiur control and linked extremely tenuously to you. It is surely no coincidence that this sort of attitude attaches to spoirst where the followers (an appropriate word) tend to have lower levels of education.

  • Comment number 80.

    I'd rather see someone cry in peace over a match than beat the crap out of an opposing team support.

    How people respond to their team is a personal thing.

  • Comment number 81.

    As a Celtic fan, i've become acustomed to the tears over the last 18-24 months.

    But by god do I love it when they win, there's very little out there that pleases me as much as by Bhoys winning, regardless of the opposition ;-)

    'Tis why we call it, "The Beautiful Game" . . . X-D

  • Comment number 82.

    Now now, I thought the cold and emotionless fellows that suggested us fans get a life were bad and now I we have people in #79 suggesting that people have a lower level of education?! Not to mention the poor spelling and wording...although I'll be honest, it's tough when you don't have spell checker...

    I can picture some of you chaps at a certain Shakespearian tragedy as the young lovers consumed by passions and emotions lay dying, the silence would be pierced by "he's not really bloomin' dead!! It's only a play, he's acting! Pull yourself together you stupid fools!".

    We're all affected by emotional situations, well, those of us that have passion in our blood, hope in our hearts and fire in our stomach are at least.

    I wonder if the coldness of some commentators is also reflected between the sheets? "Stop your moaning woman, there's no such thing as God anyway! It's only physical intercourse, no need to get all emotional about it!".

    Sometimes emotion overwhelms and turns us in to blubbering jelly and sometimes it galvanizes us or even turns us to fiery beasts. Without passion and emotion the world would be logical, predictable. We wouldn't be happy or sad. It would be robotic.

    It your party chaps. You can cry if you want to.

  • Comment number 83.

    Castigating me for poor spelling is a fair point by strc.., I can appreciate the foolishness of not checking my typing when making the above statement.

    However, there is a big difference between emotional attachment when one is involved in something and vicarious association with the fortunes of eleven players over whose actions you have no influence.

  • Comment number 84.

    Imagine feeling the emotions in the article times 100! That's what it is like to be a Scottish sports fan!!! I know we should be talking about football, but I gave up watching Scotland play football years ago. I now watch rugby, but after the last 6 Nations match against Wales I really thought I would never be able to watch Scotland play rugby again. I can watch England play and just take the result as it comes. I can watch Wales, Ireland or France play and be happy if they win. But watching Scotland is like putting your whole self up for examination and (nearly always) failing. Why do we do it?

  • Comment number 85.

    Although not a 'crier' when it comes to football it is interesting to see those who are quick to jump on the 'its just a game' bandwagon. Whilst at the very basic level this is true, to perceive it in such a way is very short sighted.

    Football, unlike few other things, has the ability to provide a connection between people worldwide who may have little else in common. Although I have very little love for Liverpool I can appreciate the feeling that a Pool fan has when Torres sticks the winner past United same as I can appreciate the feelings of a Utd fan when Rooney bags his second against City tomorrow.

    The fact that a great deal of charity work is centred around football highlights the worldwide impact that this game has - do we not remember the Christmas day truce during the war to play football before the inevitable bloodspilling continued?

    Those who are jumping on their high moral horse and saying that tears etc should be saved for more important things (i.e. poverty stricken children etc) are being far too judgmental. Crying over football by no means precludes having a deep rooted concern for other 'more important' issues.

    Anyways, its an early night for me, saving myself for a day of shouting at the television tomoro - I just know that one day Berbatov is going to listen to me...

  • Comment number 86.

    Some of you will remember a Czech tennis player Ivan Lendl. He was world number one for many years but, although he got to the final several times, he never won Wimbledon. When asked how he coped with such disappointment (he would invariably go on to win US, Australian or French titles year after year) he replied, "when I win it is a triumph, but when I lose it is just a game". Now that is mental strength!

  • Comment number 87.

    There is only one problem with all of this: when you invest all your hopes and dreams on to a football team you have no control or power over your emotions.

    In short, your own happiness is out of your hands. It depends on an outside force. A force that you have no control or power over.

    And, if the team you happen to support isn't very good, then you are going to experience a lot of misery in life. A lot of pain and suffering.

    So the question is: why do you persist in your support? It could, perhaps, be loyalty to your family or your community. If generation after generation has supported a team, then it can be hard to turn away from that. Well, you want to be loyal and true to your family, don't you?

    I know from personal experience: My family are big Arsenal supporters. And I was a big Arsenal supporter for many years, suffering the highs and the lows of being a Gooner.

    My return to sanity came after Arsenal won the Double in 1998. I enjoyed the Cup Final Win for a few hours, and then I thought: this isn't worth it.

    Because I hadn't done anything to achieve this success MYSELF. And there was an emptyness and a hollowness about the success.

    And so I have decided (gradually) that if success and victory by a football team is meaningless to me, then so is defeat and failure.

    I choose to let go of the pain and misery. Especially as I have nothing to do with it. And I can't help it if Arsene (for all his many qualities) is a stubborn old bugger, who won't resort to Plan B or C or D ... Why should I put my own fate in another man's hands?

    Simply put, why would I want pain or misery in my life, if I didn't cause or create it myself (and if the "happiness" of them winning isn't all that)?

    Anfield 1989 WAS magical. But most football supporters won't ever go through something like that in their entire lives. Just a lot of disappointment and broken dreams ...

    I'm not sure if this is the place for such existentualist ramblings, but hey, Phil is short for philosophical. And, if I've lost you in this diatribe, it's probably for the best.

  • Comment number 88.

    Of course football pales into insignificance when compared to the most important things in life. I, like most fans, would give up the feeling inspired by a last minute winner against our bitterest rivals in return for an end to world poverty, a cure for cancer, etc but these feelings should not be taken out of context so those advocating fans to grow up and get a life should climb down from the moral high ground. Having said that, I have supported club and country for 40 years and had countless highs and lows, and the gnawing pain in the pit if my stomach after the worst defeats have led to sullen silences, arguments with family and friends and a desire to avoid all newspapers for days but never, ever, have I felt the need to bubble like a six year old. suffer in silence, I say, and don't embarrass yourself and your club.

  • Comment number 89.

    Oh it's ridiculous, I can't watch the video you posted Tom "not available in your area", well it's not exactly going to be shown on Polish tv is it?

    Sort it out BBC!

  • Comment number 90.

    cant stand when people tell you it doesnt matter. obnoxious, inconsiderate and lacking any shred of empathy. if someones gold fish has just died and theyre upset you dont point out to them that its only a stupid goldfish. whether it is or, shut it :)

  • Comment number 91.

    I have cried precisely twice in my 20 years of watching football. Both times my team had just won. Liverpool UEFA Cup 2001 and Champions League 2005.

    While I think I would be gutted if relegation were to occur, I think the the only actual tears I would shed for my club are tears of joy.

  • Comment number 92.

    Tears of joy for champions league 1999 & 2008.

    Always feel most upset when England go out of a world cup/euros (especially on penalties) simply because the premiership/champions league is yearly whereas 4 years is a long old time.

  • Comment number 93.

    Mr Fordyce,
    You stated that I Was probably on the wrong site.Why?
    My blog was relevant to your article.
    I am passionate about football, having played as a professional, and I still play at 66 years of age.
    I have experienced the euphoria of Lisbon 1967, and the dissapointment of the San Siro.We didn't cry, but congratulated and celebrated with the Dutch fans as true, mature football fans do.
    As for the person who assumed that some of us support particular teams because of our names, well,how can you answer such idiocy.
    To stare at a blank TV screen for hours because your team lost.What would you do if something really drastic happened in your life? get the rope out ?
    As for excercise, most of the people who contributed to this article, their major form of excercise would be to open the fridge to get a can of full strength, and to pick up the phone and order a curry.

  • Comment number 94.

    I've been a Palace fan since 1967 - but it's not my fault. My Mum was living in Purley when I was born, and it never occurred to me to support anyone but my local team. True - they don't win much, but when they do have some success, it really means something. Even the bad times are good. Some of my greatest memories are from when 'we' played in the old Division Three for three years with Malcolm Allison and then Terry Venables at the helm. Games versus Brighton? Wonderful moments. Man U fans just wouldn't get it. We were the "Team of the Eighties" except that we ended up spending most of it in the old Division Two, ending with Coppell at the helm, and finally back at the top level. That 0-9 defeat? Almost funny really. Reaching the FA Cup Semi-Finals through the back door and then Wembley via the main entrance and one of the best experiences that sports can ever give you? Priceless. And now we're in a prolonged slump yet again. Administration? Points deduction. from play-off hopefuls to relegation fighters in one fell swoop. The drama. The ecstasy. The pain. Well, not so much pain now to be honest. I'm too old for that. Emotions run lower as one gets older. Thirty years ago I might have cried, but as others have pointed out earlier, football is but a tassel woven onto the tapestry of life. Que sera. You know what would really bug me? If Palace win the Cup the year after I die. That would be very irritating. Enjoy your teams. The successes and the failures. The importance of winning and losing is overrated. There's always next season, and if not, there are always some great memories. No one can take those away. Well, except Alzheimer's I suppose.

  • Comment number 95.

    In response to Pompeytillidie (2.01pm yesterday), true agony was watching Hull concede two goals in 90 seconds at your place last month. But it was still a fantastic day out at a great club and of course there's every chance I'll be able to come again next season. And for lifting the spirits there's not much better than the link to the David Hirst sequence. What a player, and what Wednesday and England wouldn't have given for him to have stayed fit. Shearer was good, but Hirst was out of this world.

  • Comment number 96.

    You have to ask yourself why you'd pay 100s of quids to sit in the stands cheering overpaid gladiators who, for the best part, don't care as much for what your club means to your community as you do (even worse if you support a club that's got nothing to do with you - you know who you are London Reds).

    Your club goes down or doesn't make the top 4 then players move on to follow their 'ambition'...for themselves. There's no ambition for your club, it all about them.

    If you can't be great, stand next to those who are great seems to be what is happening. What does that say about you? Ask yourself and find out. It is just a game where (as Greenwood said) only 1 can win the league, which makes everyone else a loser, unless you gain some perspective and make football a part of life instead of all of your life. You know who you are...

  • Comment number 97.

    #93 Jamesmcconnel

    I have to say James, I have never heard of you, and I am not that much younger than you. Maybe, just maybe if you had put a bit more passion into your game, to REALLY believe that winning that games was so important. To train up for it because you understood what it meant to the fans of your club, and obviously not another days work for yourself. Then maybe you would have been a better footballer, and I would have heard of you.

  • Comment number 98.

    Although I do genuinely enjoy watching the game, I have to agree with post #9 from James McConnell. I think a lot of fans fail to keep things in perspective, which is obviously what caused all the problems with the violence of the past. The thing that always makes me laugh is how fans use "we" to refer to their team as though they were out there on the pitch running up and down and putting in the effort with the Tevezes and Rooneys, when in fact the average fan hasn't weighed less than 18 stone and run more than ten yards since they left school. It's entertainment folks, and you are not part of the show.

  • Comment number 99.


    Giles Smith: "Where do people get their certainty from? Actually, I think I know the answer to that. They get it from not being fans.

    It's all very well making these kinds of sweeping prediction if you're a casual observer, with no vested interest. But if your happiness is implicated in the outcome, it's simply not possible. Certainty doesn't really suit the football fan. For many of us, it's not part of the make-up - unlike, say, pessimism and a permanent state of anxiety. The only football fans I know who routinely express certainty, and act as if the best outcome from their point of view is pretty much a given, are Manchester United fans, and it's not very becoming.

    Many of us tend to go in with the opposite attitude: it's not going to work out; it's all going to go wrong. That leaves us slightly (although never entirely) pre-armed, in the event that it does. And all the more delighted when it doesn't."

  • Comment number 100.

    #59 "As a supporter I have no choice". Perhaps true, though you could choose not to be a supporter - this is your privilege as an entity capable of free thought, and I can assure you that it is possible to enjoy football without wearing a scarf. #87 asks the pertinent question "Why do you persist in your support?", something poster #88 might ponder next time he/she feels "the gnawing pain in the pit of my stomach". But that is tribalism for you, and more often than not one does not choose their tribe.

    Oh and #18: It is never fine to kick a dog.



 

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