England football fans at world cup
England football fans at world cup

9 types of football fan you meet during every major tournament: Which one are you?

They range from the sublime to the ridiculous, says Luke Rix-Standing.

Luke Rix-Standing
Thursday 08 July 2021 09:45

It is often said that footballing success unites nations, and England’s team has gathered backing from all kinds of fans as they’ve forged their way through to the Euros 2020 final against Italy You’d need a full David Attenborough series to profile every type of supporter, but, come tourney time, here are the ones you’re most likely to meet.

The question is, which one are you?

1. The diehard

These are the guys the TV cameramen know to look for. High on passion, sometimes low on perspective, every twist and turn of the game is etched onto their face – if you can see it under the partisan face paint. They immediately stop talking when the ball enters the final third, unironically use the phrase “we was robbed”, and probably went to away games pre-pandemic. Any football fan can tell you that makes them a different breed.

2. The instant expert

Possibly the most annoying of all the subsets, the instant expert has read a couple of BBC match reports on their phone, and now fancies themselves the new Alan Hansen They barely know what a ‘wing-back’ is, but they sure know Gareth shouldn’t have gone with one. A stopped clock is right twice a day, and the instant expert will take enormous pride in being occasionally correct.

3. The fair-weather fan

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of good old-fashioned glory hunting, so long as you accept that’s what you’re doing. Watching England in a Euros final is going to be objectively more exciting than a friendly against Kazakhstan, and people will come out of the woodwork for a winning team.

They may not have cried along with Gazza, or watched in horror as Steve McClaren’s brolly derailed England’s passage to Euro 2008, but you don’t need 55 years of hurt to enjoy a bit of patriotic sport. Don’t sneer at the fair-weather fan – they’re just trying to have a nice time.

4. The pub fiend

Game day often takes place in the local boozer, and there are plenty of weekend warriors out there for whom football and drinking have merged into one. It’s hard to know how much they care about the football itself. It’s a game of two halves, and they often only see one of them.

5. The stats man

Complex passing formations can look a little obscure from your sofa, but boning up on data can be done in a matter of minutes. Betting was once the stat man’s vice of choice, but these days it’s fantasy football. It’s created a legion of casuals who can tell you Calvert-Lewin’s goals-to-games ratio but still don’t fully understand the offside rule.

6. The club loyalist

Players and managers are often accused of putting club before country, and fans can be just as loyal to local ties. There are Arsenal fans out there rooting for the opposition just because Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane is leading the line; and a lot of Liverpool fans would laugh uproariously if Everton’s Jordan Pickford conceded a clanger.

7. The Nostalgia Tripper

Take a drink every time this guy says every team in the tournament would get ruined by Brazil from 1970, Italy from 1982, and Spain from 2008. Or that the ‘original’ Ronaldo was better.

8. The news junkie

This year’s Euros has seen the rise of a not entirely new, but a newly prominent subset of observer – the current affairs nut who follows football because it’s relevant. When you have cabinet ministers discussing the national team on the eve their first group game, news junkies will start switching on thanks to the front pages rather than the back.

9. The pressured peer

In every packed-out pub there are at least a few unfortunate souls that really, really don’t want to be there. They had to buy Nike trainers when they were kids, they had to watch Love Island at university, and now they’re having to watch the match, surrounded by baying footie fanatics they clearly feel are beneath them. You never really grow out of peer pressure.

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