They’re bloody everywhere they are

5 03 2011

Last Thursday I was in Shrewsbury’s train station. Whilst I waited for my train I noticed two men near me, I could tell they were going to a match. There was a certain bawdiness to their conversion, they had a certain look and a certain baring, they both had a carrier bag of beers.

We all left Shrewsbury on the next train possible. The two men sat by me. Shortly after our journey to Crewe began I noticed the clincher; one of them wore a very small pin badge. I tried to guess if they were en route to Anfield but couldn’t work that out, I also struggled to work out why Shrewsbury wasn’t good enough for them.

I saw my first confirmed Liverpool fans roughly 2 minutes after arriving in Crewe. There was a pair of them by the Platform 5  Café. One of them was called “Boydy” to judge from the name on the back of his shirt. I should have recognised “Boydy” as he wore the “iconic number 7”. “Boydy” also wore espadrilles with sincerity.

I found more Liverpool fans inside the café, all wearing red and white scarves with ersatz pride. One of them spoke as though he and Stevie G were good buddies, “I think we’re going to win, but—t,     knowing us this season,     we might lose”. The words weren’t delivered with a scouse intonation

As I waited for the train to Chester I gazed out of the café’s window, I saw two Liverpool fans striding down the staircase. Then there were two more, then two more. I left the cafe and I found myself in the midst of a herd of Liverpool fans without a scouse accent between them. After a couple of minutes the Liverpool fans entered the delayed train two by two. The train was so packed it resembled a red and white cattle truck, a suitable analogy for bovine behaviour of “out-of-town tourist fans”.

I have noticed this type of behaviour  in other places too (Murdoch’s mind-control project is insidious); in Llandudno’s cultural quarter, on Radio Five live, on my commute home. I have even noticed it on the When Saturday Comes message board, even though that’s a place priding itself on erudition and enlightenment.

Unfortunately several members of the WSC message board have an uncanny ability to turn any thread, on any subject,  into a ding dong battle between Manchester United and Liverpool. After the hijacking occurs the WSC message board develops the “Yeah but, no but…” quality of inferior message boards, the only difference is longer words are used.

On some level I’m sure it’s interesting but I have yet to find that level. Like the train passengers, few of these posters seem to come from Manchester or Liverpool. It’s funny how a train journey from Shrewsbury to Crewe and a football message board become connected.

There’s nothing wrong with people liking a club from outside their home area of course, it doesn’t hurt anyone. In fact it’s quite touching when a person from thousands of miles away takes an interest in your club. For example, last Saturday Bangor’s secretary, Brain, produced a letter he’d been sent from the unheralded “Bangor City Supporter Association – Espana” and it felt nice to  know that a few Spanish people felt something for our little club. In fact taking an interest in clubs from outside your home country is a fairly common thing;

Liverpool Football club have millions of fans all around the world. How dare you insult us like that? I’ve gotten mail from people from the US, Kuwait, Austria, India, Malaysia, all of them having one thing in common. Being a red, through and through

In fact I don’t many people without a soft spot for a club in another part of the world.

While international fans are relatively harmless the existence of the “out-of-town tourist fans” cause problems that are obvious to most people interested in football. These fans make value judgements. They place a greater attachment to the “glamorous” clubs than their “unglamourous” local clubs. This choice has two effects; One, it makes smaller clubs suffer and  two, the local fans of the glamorous club may not be able to obtain tickets because the “out-of-town tourist fans” buy them. 

My basic position on these matters has two main points;

Firstly, I see football clubs as representative of an area, they are named after places after all. They are institutions that have grown organically in a community (whether they were started by a church, by university graduates, by a youth group, by railway workers, by dockers, by cricket clubs or even by less charitable people.) After football became popular these clubs became signifiers for local identity. To me football clubs are one representation of civic pride in a place. Therefore in modern Liverpool, Liverpool FC becomes a badge of honour for some scousers. This pride is built on decades of collected memories and shared experiences. It’s a pride that  provides an informal education in social history and a sense of connectedness to a place. This sort of pride is shown in this song about Gary McAllister. It is probably still heard today and he left Liverpool 9 years ago;

Secondly, fans from “out-of-town tourist fans” made a choice about who to support based on the  glamour or success of “their” club. They cannot feel the same as the fans in that clip, in fact they can disrupt the link between a club and a local area.

The endless “debates” on the WSC message board highlight the problem posed by “out-of-town tourist fans” very well. Several of the United and Liverpool supporting posters are Irish. Rather annoyingly they are very convinced their analysis contributes to human development. 

Considering they are from the other side of Irish Sea, it’s amazing how het up some of them get over matters related to this clash of these particular football clubs. To a person with some historical knowledge Irish people fawning over a part of British culture seems a little odd. Indeed some people in Ireland (to judge from the WSC message board) think the Irish are above the rest of ”le monde Celtique” because they managed to overthrow the yoke of Royal oppression in 1916 and we are still subjects. Unfortunately the same people that assert justifiable pride in overthrowing the yoke of imperialism are willing to submit to the imperialism of the premier league.

I have witnessed many examples of “Irish tourist fans” people submitting; a train to Chester full of “Irish tourist fans” bound for Anfield, a Liverpool hostel full of “Irish tourist fans”, a family of 6 “Irish tourist fans” (I heard their accents) leaving Anfield with shopping bags full of souvenirs, Holyhead’s ferry terminal featuring dozens of “Irish tourist fans”, a stroll around Dublin in the company of  hundreds of people in Liverpool and Man United shirts.  Have you ever noticed when they want an interview with Liverpool or United fans there are always “Irish tourist fans” willing to go in front of the camera to talk about “we” like a proper fan;

There is so much anecdotal evidence (you don’t see many people wearing Shamrock Rovers or Bohemian shirts around Dublin for example) of  “Irish tourist fans” supporting the big English clubs you could wonder if Ireland has it’s own national league. Well “The League of Ireland” exists but it’s treated with disdain.

Someone started a thread about the League of Ireland on the WSC message board and it looked a lot, lot thinner than the other threads featuring Irish posters. It didn’t take me long to figure out why; none of the well-known Irish posters deigned to post on the thread. I double checked to see if they were still members, they were. I wondered if they had gone off football, they still gushed half-arsed opinions and petty prejudices on proper football.

Wait a minute, these proud Irish people can’t think their national league is beneath their contempt can they? Even though my anecdotal evidence pointed to this idea I still wondered if this was par for the course in Ireland, so I have conducted a bit of research in the last week. I have found out the following things. 1) football in popular in Ireland, 2) the premier league is popular in Ireland 3) the League of Ireland is not popular in Ireland.

I also found evidence of how “Irish tourist fans” view themselves as football fans, which I found very illuminating and mostly annoying. You can generalise my findings to all “out-of-town tourist fans” if you’re so inclined. Take this blog piece as a starting point.

“It’s one of the biggest argument all non Manchester United fans have against United, that none of United’s fans are from Manchester and that where all glory hunting supporters that don’t truly follow the club, well here’s my retaliation in defence of myself and United’s foreign fans all around the globe.

You always hear something among of the lines of “So who do you support? – I support Manchester United – Really? So what part of London are you from?” when jokes are made about Manchester United’s fan base. You’ll see in many different internet debates someone mention the line “I bet your not even from Manchester”, or “I bet you haven’t been in Old Trafford” or something among those lines.

As an Irish Manchester United Supporter I’m here to tell you why foreign fans ‘can’ be just as passionate about the club as a person from Manchester. While I do admit there are some so called Man Utd supporters who still think David Beckham and Roy Keane still play for the club and when they refer to the team they say the offensive name of ‘manu’ instead of Manchester United and the only reason they follow the club is because they win so many trophies and its much easier to say they follow United rather then say “I don’t watch football”.

I was born into a family of Manchester United lovers who were big supporters of the clubs during there long wait for the title. I was born the day before Manchester United came back from behind to beat Manchester City 3-2 at Maine road where they came back from 2-0 down after enduring some ‘Turkish delight’ in the Champions League days before.

My father was convinced I was good luck and he wanted to take me to a game as a baby! My mother heard my name Ryan from my brother mentioning Ryan Giggs during a game, or so they say (more likely they just said that to make me feel like I was named after a true legend).

I’m a Manchester United season ticket holder who went to 18 Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League games last season (would have been more had we not lost 1-0 to Leeds in the 3rd round and to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in a game I wish I could just forget about).

This season I’ll be spending games at Old Trafford in the north stand (was a member of the east stand last season) in the most expensive seats that are not boxes or corporate seats and I intend on paying for every game I go to, to my father, who I’m so very grateful for taking me to so many games. Every game I go to does mean I travel a fair bit and what to I usually see, hundreds upon hundreds of United Irish season ticket holders, and I usually see the same faces every time. This is an average match day myself and my Dad:

  1. 6 AM: its time to get up and off to the airport. Flight at 8.30.
  2. Check in through security and wait an hour for the flight.
  3. On the plane now for an hour flight.
  4. Half 9 we arrive on time in London.
  5. Get the tube to Euston train station.
  6. Have my breakfast and wait until half 11 for the train.
  7. On the train now a further two and a half hours until we arrive in Manchester.
  8. Around one o’ clock  we’ve arrived in Manchester.
  9. Check in to our Hotel.
  10. Have a look around the Arndale Center until an hour before the game.
  11. Get on the packed tram to Old Trafford.
  12. Arrive around 15 minutes later and off to the ground.
  13. Take our seats and wait for kick off.
  14. Around 2 and a half hours later the game is over.
  15. We get our traditional burger and discuss the match.
  16. Back to the hotel room.
  17. Out for dinner and then back into the hotel room to watch Match of the Day.
  18. Bed time twelve o’ clock.

This is our usual three or later kick off game. Waking up at 6 in the morning to arrive in Manchester at one in the day. Now you might say why are you going to London? Well we don’t always go to London but we do when we can because at the end of a day were just after suffering a recession and money is tight!

Sometimes if our hands are tied we take the option to travel directly to Manchester other times we travel to Liverpool and get the bus to Manchester which is very popular option for many Irish people and sometimes we fly to Birmingham. Next season we’ll probably have to take the ferry at some point. This is the normal routine for many Irish season ticket holders, and anyone from Manchester will tell you especially taxi men that we come in herds to support our beloved team.

On one occasion we were getting the train from Birmingham to Manchester to see Man United play Tottenham only to find two stops down the line they had to get everyone off the train and out of the station for technical reasons so we were forced to get a taxi to Manchester with two Dublin people who where, wait for it, Tottenham supporters!

So this is why when people write and say stuff about Manchester United I act like a child throwing a tantrum because while some of the abuse is completely justifiable some of it is not completely fair, because the amount of money city’s generate from foreign fans is huge so really where doing England a favor!

Also many Irish players and foreign players have proved good player’s for there clubs like Roy Keane and Niall Quinn and Paul Mcgrath so why can clubs play Irish and foreign players but shouldn’t have any foreign fans?

Look this is a message to many anti-united people who will read my blogs and go are you even from Manchester? I support them just as much as anyone could in my situation I despise Liverpool just as much as people from Manchester do because they are plenty of Liverpool fans who love to see United fail and when United beat Liverpool I can walk down to my friends with a cheeky grin and my head raised high.

However when Liverpool do get one over on us, the next day I tend to avoid as many Liverpool fans as possible. I love United and I always will, I make videos of Manchester United players, I’m writing articles about United and I go to plenty of their games so please future readers please don’t question my loyalty and the loyalty of many other United fans because a lot of us do the same.”

Yes very good you spend vast amounts of time and effort following United, but you’re not from Manchester. How could you feel the civic sense that United are representing you like someone from Greater Manchester. Let’s deconstruct his argument further.

I’m here to tell you why foreign fans ‘can’ be just as passionate about the club as a person from Manchester.” No, no, no, this is the central conceit from which all the behaviour flows. No-one can truly feel an attachment to club like a local. You can feel happy when “your team” win and very sad when “your club” loses but you won’t have the sense of civic representation that some one from Salford feels for United or Toxteth feels for Liverpool.

“I was born into a family of Manchester United lovers who were big supporters of the clubs during there long wait for the title.”  –  Aaah the Justification! You were actually born into a family of people who chose to support United, this is not genetic you idiot.

“hundreds upon hundreds of United Irish season ticket holders” – The extent of the problem

“This is our usual three or later kick off game. Waking up at 6 in the morning to arrive in Manchester at one in the day.” – Well it’s your bloody choice, you are not some kind of hero.

“…we come in herds to support “our” beloved team”Jesus “our”, YOU’VE MADE A CHOICE YOU IDIOT!!

The following quotes are the absolute clinchers,

“…because the amount of money city’s generate from foreign fans is huge so really where doing England a favor!”

 “I support them just as much as anyone could in my situation I despise Liverpool just as much as people from Manchester do because they are plenty of Liverpool fans who love to see United fail and when United beat Liverpool I can walk down to my friends with a cheeky grin and my head raised high.”  Get over yourself lad!

For fuck’s sake, if the fact they can get tickets easily wasn’t bad enough, these arrogant twats actually think they are the lifeblood of the club. Well lad, how many people from Salford have been deprived of tickets because you’ve got them? Do you ever think of that? Or are you too busy being Manchester United’s superfan? You may be clever, you may have seen how other people do it and you may think you know the outline of how to be a proper  football fan but there’s one thing lad, you’re playing a role learned via the behaviour of other chancers like you.

It doesn’t matter how much money you spend, this is a fashion, it’s ersatz support. Supporting United is not part of your soul and it’s not a birth defect, IT’S A CHOICE! You’re just too busy being Man United’s superfan to see this. You and your mates will never be Manchester-born United fans.

Mind you, arrogance seems to come as standard with a lot of “out-of-town tourist fans”. There is a perceived entitlement to tickets and there are well-known methods of obtaining them; (All of the following quotes are taken from the The Irish Kop message board.)

“Hey folks . Looking for a wee bit of advice re heading over to the “Pool . Its been ages /AGES since I was over for a game and want to go over in case the ground I love is changed forever ( practically lived there as a nipper ) . So ,,was getting me hair cut a few days ago and the guy cutting said he could get me a ticket for most games -phone over to someone he knows and I pick up and pay over there . The thing is,travel- whats the best these days and the cheapest way to get over ??? I know there is an advice thread but I dont do credit cards and would be just going into a travel agent and booking boat or plane and paying cash. I would be just doing the game and returning home same day .”

Thanks for any advice given ,,,,,,,,,if ya aint fallin asleep yet .”

Then the reply came.

“if ye don’t do credit cards then the cheapest option would be to do the sail and rail but you’d only be able to do it for an evening KO,doubt you’d make it for a 3pm KO and you’d be cutting it fine for a 4pm cost about 75 euro return,that’ll get ye from dublin to lpool and back but ye wont get back to dublin till about 0630 the next morning.just go down to the port the morning of the game and pay at the might be able to book it in advance in a travel agents,i don’t know.

i don’t know if travel agents even book flights for people any more,thought those days were long gone.

you could do the sail and rail for the prague game next thursday and you’d probably pick up a tkt handy enough at the ticket office..
did the lad cutting your hair say whether or not the tkt would be face value?”

They even have ways of distributing the spares;

“On occasions spares have been offered up on the site that eventually end up in an arse pocket and so on that go to waste.Well with current financial conditions some top reds are having to miss out on games because of financial constraints yet tickets for said matches are going to waste.My hope is that on this thread were somebody has a spare at a late stage they know they wont shift that maybe there willing to offer it up as a goodwill gesture to lads that just cant afford to make the match…”

How very public-spirited, maybe someone from Liverpool might like to take the ticket!! Here’s a bit more of the shit they come out with;

“our” wonderful ticket office..  are a bunch of incompetent fcukin retards.

i got 2 lots of 3 tickets for tonight’s game for 2 different lads,1 lot arrived in the post and the other lot didn’ the time i was buying them i printed off the checkout order confirmation pages cos i wasn’t confident at all of them arriving on time.
i gave 1 of the lads his 3 tkts on monday and yesterday i gave the other lad a letter of authorisation to collect duplicates.i wrote the letter on the bottom half of the checkout order confirmation page,it had the payment reference number and the 3 fancard numbers and names on it.
how they managed to do this i do not know but the stupid cnuts gave out duplicates of the 3 tickets that had arrived in the post instead of the ones that didn’t.3 of the lads were fooked out by the stewards through no fault of their’s or mine,they had to buy another 3 tkts to get back in.fowler knows how much they paid for them.
how do these stupid cnuts get jobs?”

Words almost fail. “Out of town tourist fans” even think there’s a hierarchy in their numbers, as if there are proper fans amongst them;

 “i miss all the fairweather fans… looking for tickets with their first post…”

Here’s a tip gentlemen, there are plenty of perfectly fine clubs to support in Ireland. It’s privilege that you are able to buy tickets for a football club miles from where you live, not a fucking right!

“Out-of-town tourist fans” are not needed to buy tickets. Let’s consider the idea that people in Liverpool like to go “to the match”. Now let’s say, for argument’s sake, that of Liverpool’s 430,000 inhabitants roughly 200,000 people don’t like football. This leaves more than 100,000 possible fans for both Everton and Liverpool, and this not counting the scouse diaspora. 

In both cases that number of fans is more than twice the capacity of their grounds. In other words  you could  easily fill each ground with people living in Liverpool. These “out-of-town tourist fans” are not vital despite what they think. I doubt whether any of the “out-of-town tourist fans” give enough thought to this  idea to let it stop them going to Anfield, or Old Trafford, or Goodison for that matter.

Speaking of Everton, the evidence I found about Irish fans on the internet reminded me of an Everton fan I know from Llandudno. He was born in Bangor, he lived in Llandudno, he went  to school in Llandudno, he worked in Llandudno and he played football in Llandudno with me.Naturally he supported Everton with all the bitter vigour of a true scouse Evertonian. 

It was all “Kopites are Gobshites” this and alll “Liverpool fans are all Norweigan” that. He didn’t seem to have time to consider the idea that to Everton’s scouse support he may appear only slightly less foreign than a Norweigan. In fact he bangs on like a proper “died in the blue wool” scouse Evertonian to this day. Why does he do this? It’s probably the Murdoch-led hype making him think he has to act like this, just like it is with all the other  “out-of-town tourist fans”.

If you doubt that these “out-of-town tourist fans” have an effect then you should have been with me in a Liverpool pub watching Liverpool v Man United in 2007. It was jam-packed with scouse Liverpool fans who would have been only too happy to go to the match at Anfield. The “out-of-town tourist fans” don’t only effect Liverpool and United they also effect the clubs from their home town, and that’s even if they’re in the premier league like Wigan. Here’s the Mudhutters’ view;

“…We’ve even got devoted fans of teams like Leeds and Newcastle in the town as people gravitate to success and big clubs and only focus on their local lower division club perversely when they play a big team. Can we change them? In some cases no but then many have, they might have followed a top club from afar whilst taking a passing interest in their local team and looking out for their results. Some have developed that interest further and good on them, what’s the harm in that, anyone who has never taken an interest in their local football club probably shouldn’t be living here. The REAL enemy and embarrassment in Wigan are those football fans who support another team from another town whilst looking down their nose at their own town’s club. It will take time, and generations to change this mentality….”

The “out-of-town tourist fans” are a major problem for football. They help to reinforce the market view of football and  they bolster the status quo. They obviously have disposable income to buy the tickets and because they claim to love “their” club they are willing to pay that little bit extra to go. They’re willing to stomach the price rises without complaint because they only go to a few matches,  matches that are a highlight in their drone-like existences.

By acting like this the “out-of-town tourist fans” provide a justification for the price rises we all have to suffer from. The market’s logic is proven because they provide the demand.  By buying tickets these twats  not only deprive local fans of a chance to see their local club, they also tip the balance of power away from the local fans of a club. The local fans are more likely to make a stand against the way their club is run, or if they feel exploited. Indeed the diluting effect of the “out-of-town tourist fans” on atmosphere has led to campaigns like Reclaim the Kop and it was one of the  starting points of FC United.

The worst thing  about the decision of “out-of-town tourist fans”  is that it’s an action based on fashion yet it has negative consequences far beyond looking good to your mates.




2 responses

28 03 2012

I hear what you’re saying comrade. I must say that although I admire the intricacies and nuances of your finely honed argument I still wonder whether the scientific community will stand for such revolutionary thinking.

28 03 2012


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