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Love and hate in the world of football supporters

Love and hate in the world of football supporters

There is one football team that I hate. I even felt uncomfortable about typing their name. But if they knew I supported the local opposition, their fans would hate me, too. I hate it when they score, when they celebrate afterwards, I hate it when they win. If their name comes up as an answer in the crossword, I leave it blank. In football, everybody needs someone to hate. And it’s usually the next-door neighbours.

 

Manchester, Glasgow, Sheffield, The Fens; all have their twice-yearly derbies, with at best, bad-natured taunting and at worst, well, we’ve all seen the bricks flying and the armoured police horses. But why the team next door? Surely it would make more sense for local teams to band together in their hatred for clubs at the other end of the country. After all, rival supporters drink in the same pubs from Sunday to Friday, live in the same streets, but when Saturday comes it’s like a toy version of the West Bank.

 

It doesn’t make any sense, hating the other local team. Or any other team for that matter. It’s all across football – some of us would rather see the local rivals lose than our own team win. And once the hate has set in, it’s difficult to stop it. David Beckham’s sending-off against Argentina in 1998 turned a promising young player into a bête noire for years, until we all fell in love with him again. We are football supporters, not lovers of the game. We love the players we love and hate those we hate.

 

I remember a football phone-in where a fan called in to say that, every Saturday, he wanted every other team to lose, except his own. He hated every other team. Completely bonkers, but understandable if you are part of a tribe, until you die. He knew that it’s impossible for 91 league teams to all lose on the same day, but he still believed, it might come true one day.