Alas, the World Cup is over. Sadly. Wearily. We awake from the bright lights and beauty of a glorious holiday, and stare out of the plane window at the grey runway tarmac of reality that is supporting our local club. All James and no ‘Hamez’. Mundane. Dull. You need a pick-up. To help ease you into your everyday lives we have decided to pick out five of the best received pieces from last season’s fanzine, and share then with you here, to fill the void of the lost 9pm kick-offs. You’re welcome.
We start with this piece from issue 65 of popular STAND, as Jack the Miner envisages the not too inconceivable notion of a man shopping for a football team to support.
Armchair Supporters R Us
A man walks into Armchair Supporters R Us…
Shop Assistant: Good morning Sir. May I help you?
Man: Yes, I’d like to support a football team.
SA: Certainly Sir. Are you interested in your local club?
Man: No, they’re crap. I just wouldn’t have the patience to support a team that loses games. I rather liked the idea of supporting a team that wins things.
SA: Sir has taste. Perhaps you’d like to look at our Executive Range?
The assistant opens a door into a brightly lit room. It is an Aladdin’s cave of football shirts in frames and replica trophies. The assistant waves an arm beckoning the man to look upon the display.
SA: Sir basically has a number of choices. You may go straight to the European selection which will allow you to wear the shirts of Barcelona, Real Madrid and others and stand in bars with know-it-all dimwits discussing the relative strengths of Messi and Ronaldo.
Man: But I don’t see enough of them to know anything about them.
SA: I wouldn’t worry about that Sir. Watch a few You Tube clips and you’ll know enough to talk complete bollocks about any continental galactic with any armchair expert.
Man: Well, I’ll think about it, but I was thinking of something that’ll let me join in with the chat at work about English football. I’d like to be one of the boys whilst looking down my nose at everyone at the same time.
SA: Ah, I see. Well, you could go for Aston Villa…Everton, Newcastle perhaps… Geordie nation, Shearer, King Kev and all that. You could talk endlessly about Malcolm MacDonald, years of hurt…being the most loyal supporters in the land.
Man: But isn’t that Man City fans?
SA: It used to be but they’re winning things now… as I was saying, the Newcastle fan is unique in its ability to talk endlessly about loyalty despite jumping ship in huge numbers when they were relegated and garbage. They genuinely believe their own hype.
Man: No, I was thinking of a never ending supply of league titles, cup wins and the like. I quite like the idea of supporting a team that considers finishing outside the top four to be a disaster.
SA: Ah, the top of the range. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, that sort of thing?
Man: Manchester United is the same as Man U aren’t they?
SA: Yes Sir, one and the same. You certainly know your football.
The man smiles to himself in nonchalant fashion.
SA: And you can probably add Spurs to the list and Liverpool too, although you might prefer to wait until they look like winning something. And you have to be careful with Liverpool as you need to drone on about the Scouse sense of humour and you’ll need to commit all those Bill Shankly quotations to memory.
Man: Well, I quite like the idea of Chelsea and all that money. That must guarantee success, surely?
SA: Possibly, but that’s what the QPR fans thought and look at them now.
Man: OK. By the way, will all this be expensive?
SA: Oh no Sir. Your only outlay will be a home shirt, an away shirt and a Sky package. A car sticker maybe. A mug for your desk.
Man: And that’s it?
SA: Absolutely. It’s a bargain. You see, the type of supporter following his local team may well spend a few thousand pound a year on season tickets, away tickets, petrol, rail fares, food and other expenses and he will have nothing to show for it except heartache, a numbing pain to the heart from underachievement and near misses plus a cold from standing out in all weathers; whereas this may cost you a couple of hundred pounds and you’ll never have to leave the house.
Man: This sounds great. It’s just what I’m looking for. And I’ll be able to put Van Persie’s name on those shirts?
SA: Well he doesn’t play for Chelsea but we can sort something suitable out for you.
Man: And you’re sure I don’t actually have to go to any games?
SA: Oh, no Sir, no need to do that although many of our clients do like to jump in line for Cup Final tickets to make sure they’re there for the biggest occasions and of course that has the additional benefit of depriving the regular supporter of a ticket which is always a huge bonus. You could of course pop along and see Chelsea if they have an away game near you but most don’t bother.
Man: And what about hidden extras? Any small print?
SA: Nothing to worry about Sir. You might like to practice referring to your team as ‘we’; do a bit of reading up and learn a bit about the club’s history so you can talk about Fat Frank, JT, Chopper Harris and Ossie.
Man: Who are they?
SA: Chelsea legends Sir. Don’t worry about it. You’ll soon pick it up. You’ll soon be chatting away and reminiscing about Bobby Tambling and Peter Bonetti and laughing about how useless Micky Droy was and those away days at Grimsby in the bad old days.
Man: It sounds great. I can’t wait. Bobby Bonetti. I’ll remember that.
SA: That’s Peter Bonetti Sir… The Cat.
Man: Right. Got it. Peter Bonnetti and his cat. And what if they stop winning things? Can I change my mind and support someone else?
SA: Well, you could do that but we advise people not to. Our customers find they get less abuse if they just shut up about football for a while; complain about the atmosphere not being the same anymore, moan about negative continental style tactics stifling the game and how you’ve always been more of a rugger or cricket man and how you’ve been busy with that. And the nice thing about that is that you can bounce around the office like Tigger in Winnie the Pooh gobbing off at anyone prepared to listen the moment you’re back in contention to win things again.
Man: Awesome. So there’s no-one else I should consider before I sign up?
SA: Well you could drop down to the Championship which is full of big teams like Derby County and Notts Forest. Or Champions of Europe, Leeds United.
Man: Were they really Champions of Europe?
SA: No Sir, that’s just never-ending, bitter, self-pitying, misplaced delusion on their part. It always reminds me of that Sean Connery quotation about losers moaning and blaming everyone else while the winners go home and shag the Prom Queen… Now there’s a thought. There’s one team that has been quietly winning and bonking the brains out of Prom Queens for a decade or more now… Doncaster Rovers. Great shirts too.
Man: Erm, no thanks. I saw a photo of Jeremy Clarkson wearing a Doncaster Rovers baseball cap recently. I couldn’t possibly. I think I’ll stick with Chelsea.
SA: Certainly Sir. I’ll have it wrapped for you.
Man: Thank you, but I think I’ll give the cat a miss. Up the Chelsea United!
The Shop assistant rolls his eyes
Jack the Miner
popular STAND prints 6 issues a season, and offers independent and reasoned coverage and thought on Doncaster Rovers.
The first 20 new subscribers will receive a free copy of issue 69 of the fanzine direct to their door.