Losing My Religion: On Becoming Club Agnostic

“Who do you support?” is the often the conversation icebreaker, but for me it’s increasingly difficult to answer. Football fandom is meant to be a life-long commitment, so what happens when you fall out of love with your club? I sought out views from both sides of the debate.

 

There’s a football club in West London that wears blue and white, and whose heyday was in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The club bobbled around mid-table in the top flight of English football for a while until massive foreign cash investment came along. That club’s name is Chelsea, and they have won 15 trophies seasons since owner Roman Abramovic bought the club in 2003.

 

There’s another football club in West London that wears blue and white, and whose heyday was in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The club bobbled around mid-table in the top flight of English football for a while until massive foreign cash investment came along. That club’s name is Queen’s Park Rangers, and unlike the experience at arch-rivals Chelsea, the money has made no comparative difference to performance – if anything it is a burden. QPR is now a yo-yo team that flits between the Premier League and Championship.

 

QPR is my team. [Continues]

 

QPR fans

Queen’s Park Rangers fans at the Championship play-off final, Wembley, 2014

 

No one wants to be the team that everyone seems to dislike – such as the nouveau riche clubs Chelsea or Manchester City, or ‘Franchise FC’ MK Dons – because that team has been perceived to have broken the unwritten rule of being an honest, hard-grafting club.

 

Everyone loves ‘honest’ clubs. There’s a romance about the teams that punched above their weight on effort and skill alone to upset the status quo: Clough era Derby and Forest, the ‘Crazy Gang’ at Wimbledon, Moyes era Everton, Southampton with its incredible youth policy.

 

Speak to Championship fans and many will tell you they view QPR as the Chelsea or City of the second tier; the club has the money and is therefore at an advantage. I am also fatigued by the drama around the club and its Briatore era ‘boutique club’ rebrand, which is part of the reason I’ve been watching a lot more in recent years of the club I grew up watching, Brighton & Hove Albion, plus more non-league and foreign football.

 

And I’m not alone. [Continues…]

Dulwich Hamlet's 'Rabble'

Dulwich Hamlet’s ‘Rabble’ – a new wave of fans have raised the gate at the South London club

When is it right to defect from your football club?

 

Technology journalist Mike Jennings used to be the classic Manchester United fan – he was from the south east of England. Splitting time supporting his local team Reading at the same time as United proved difficult as he grew older, more politically conscious and increasingly disillusioned with the way both clubs were run. Add to that the massive and widening disparity in pay and lifestyle between the players themselves and the average fan, plus the allure of lower league – a more authentic football experience – became appealing.

 

“When it comes to Man United and the rest of the Premier League, I can’t keep up,” Jennings told OW. “I don’t have the time or the energy for it; the mid-season ‘controversies’, the endless transfer talk in the summer while Sky Sports News tries to find anything to fill its airtime, the ‘bants’ between the fans and the presenters and the players and everyone else. It’s a money-driven circus and I just don’t need it in my life.”

 

As the cost-to-experience ratio at Reading’s new “identikit” Madejski Stadium went down, so Jennings descended to the lower leagues for better value for money.

 

“That’s why I started following Maidenhead. They were local to me and dad, they were non-league, it was cheap,” he explained. “It was a throwback, and we had more fun at those games than we’d had at Reading in years and years. We probably went more regularly, too, as regularly as the old days with Reading at Elm Park. I could go with fifteen quid, buy a ticket, food and a programme and have change left over. The people were friendly, the chairs were replaced by terraces, the players didn’t dive. They just played.” [Continues…]

Tunbridge Wells FC fans in the ninth tier of English football

Tunbridge Wells FC fans in the ninth tier of English football

Club for life: It’s never right to defect

 

For long-suffering Coventry City support Robert Francis, it’s never OK to defect.

 

“Supporting a football club is different from visiting your favorite pub, your local supermarket, or even your best friend,” he argues. “If your pub gets a makeover, your supermarket gets taken over by another chain, or your best mate decides to up and move sticks to Australia, you can find alternatives. But football? Football is different. Owners come and go. Form is temporary, as is class (despite what they say), but the club will – in most cases – be there.

 

“Unless your team happened to be the original Wimbledon, which upped sticks to Milton Keynes (admittedly not quite Australia), there really is no reason to change your club,” he continued. “This is what makes football different, and why the description of fans as ‘consumers’ has always been a mistake. Fans are more than consumers – they belong, and it is this sense of belonging that explains why the vast majority of fans stick with their club through thick and thin. After all, it’s not as if they have a choice!”

 

Who do you support?

 

I am sure that I will drift back to Loftus Road at some point this season, just not as regularly as previous years; It’s not that expensive there and a lot of the baggage players have been offloaded. In the mean time, on Final Score and on Twitter you’ll find me looking out for QPR, Brighton, Charlton, Gillingham, Maidstone United, Lewes FC, Tonbridge Angels, Margate, Tunbridge Wells FC…

 

What do you think? Have you ever changed clubs due to disillusionment or do you consider it absolute sacrilege? Let us know in the comments box.

 

Care to share?

One Comment

  1. I don’t think of it in terms of ‘defection’ or ‘disloyalty’ . . . I live so far from my home town team (Forfar Athletic) that it’s not practical to visit on a regular basis but my ‘loyalty’ to them has never wavered.
    Over the years my replacement therapy has been to support my ‘local’ team (i.e. the team local to where I happen to be living at any given time) . . . in my case that’s included spells supporting Gillingham, Leicester City and majorly Northampton Town FC (a.k.a. The Cobblers).

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