Being an avid sports fan I had to get myself to a football (soccer) match here in the UK. There is a local team which I ostensibly support that recently had a “derby match” (a match between local teams) that had some implications for movement between divisions in the Premiere League. So it was a pretty intense game, and the experience was very different from anything I’ve experienced at numerous sporting events in the US.
Firstly, if you are an American and you ever want to lose the stereotype we have as Americans that English accents sound distinguished and polite, go to a football match…this is not a family event! There were fans (both male and female!) yelling and calling the other team “cunts” and “dickheads”…my favorite was when one fan asked another in front of him to sit down so he could see the field, the reply was “fuck off friend!”. My other favorite was considerably more tame, when one fan taunted the linesman after being late and missing an off-sides call for being “unfit! You are an unfit linesman Stuart! and you have skinny legs!”. That one just cracked me up.
One of the other things I found quite odd was that they completely separate fans that support the away team from those that support the home team. Away fans are herded into one small section of the stadium all together, the idea being that this helps prevent fights from breaking out all over the place (I guess the fans are a lot tougher than the players falling all over the field). Unfortunately, this also makes it much easier for the away fans to coordinate one of their many “fight songs”. Which brings me to one of the other differences: the fans sing…a lot. There’s not so much chanting as a helluva lot of singing various fight songs (oh how I miss a good “bullshit” or “asshole” chant; or the taunting of a goalie, or the best of all, a sarcastic cheer!). You would think you were at a friggin’ musical with incomprehensible songs being emitted every minute or two; nuts.
Oh yea, and they don’t do high fives here after scoring a goal…something to keep in mind so that if you are ever at a game and the home team scores a goal, you don’t raise your hand expectantly in the air towards friends and other fans while they look at you like you’re a whack job.
Overall, it was quite fun and the fans were refreshingly passionate, however it made me very much miss my suite of North American sports (especially now that the hockey playoffs are full swing; LETS GO FLYERS!!!).