Is it just me or do a lot of people seem to be very angry, most of the time, at football matches?
Obviously as a Leeds United season ticket holder my observations have to be limited to Leeds fans. For all I know supporters of all other teams are level headed, cheerful and reasonable people. It could just be Leeds United fans. However over the years I've seen enough stuff on the web, listened to enough phone ins and talked to enough people to make me suspect that most football fans are the same.
The anger takes on so many different forms. There's the sad characters muttering to themselves. The blokes unburdening themselves to the post match phone-ins. The spurned lovers who see every defeat as a betrayal of their affections. The ones I always end up next to at away games who spends the entire match conducting a conversation with an opposition fan two hundred yards away. 'Come on then big man. I'll see you outside' and so on for 90 minutes plus injury time.
There are so many things that they hate. Anybody who ever played for Manchester United is scum (unless they subsequently came and played for Leeds). Anybody not trying hard enough is lazy. Anybody trying too hard is a headless chicken. Aimless kicks up field are 'route one rubbish'. However playing the ball along the ground in any direction other than forwards is also a no no.
Time for a confession. It wasn't so many years ago that I felt moved to anger myself at matches. I became part of the crowd completely one-eyed seeing only opposition crimes; believing that everybody had it in for us. Then one day I found myself on my feet shouting at the linesman over something. I can't even remember what it was all about. After the game I realised that I wasn't comfortable with how I was acting. So now I try to look at things with more dispassion. Maybe I've gone too far the other way now. I can look on most things that go on at Leeds games with equanimity.
Is it possible to take the long view in the world of football? Every time the team win they are world beaters every time they lose they are relegation candidates. In the goldfish brained world of the average Leeds fan all is forgotten by the time of the next match. He'll turn up again next week. All optimistic with a song on his lips (usually an obscene one concerning Posh Spice) and a daft hat on his head. Within ten minutes of the match starting his dreams will have been dashed by a stupid goal given away. He's now appoletic with anger. The illogical conspiracies and half baked theories start to come out. The chairman needs us to lose because he'll make more money if we're in the play offs. The manager was stupid to play a full team in the cup game last week (even though the crowd spent the entire pre match build up going on about the famous victory obtained). The cliches come next 'the manager has lost the dressing room'; 'he's taken us as far as he can'. The game finishes with a flurry of boos and people shouting at the chairman, manager and players. The bewildered will be phoning up the radio stations to share their rage.
The constant theme is that the fans deserve better. But why do they deserve it? Nobody forced them to turn up to the football. Surely there should be no need for a financial services type warning? - 'Football matches may be lost as well as won'. In a sporting contest between usually well matched opponents it is going to be hard to predict the result. If every week we turned up and our team won would that be satisfying? Obviously as a Leeds fan I don't know the answer to the last one.
At the end of the day though (see I can spout football cliches with the best of them) if everybody was reasonable and level headed at football matches it would make for a pretty poor spectacle. In bad times I can always look at the bedraggled beaten angry men around me and feel some superiority over them. Perhaps that's the reason I go to the football in the first place?