Thursday, 11 March 2010
Football Fans Get The Club They Deserve
Watching Manchester United trounce AC Milan last night, amidst a sea of yellow and green scarves, it struck me that, at the end of the day, football fans get the club they deserve. Manchester United are challenging for three trophies this year because, for all the jibes about Southern glory hunters, their fans expect success and demand quality football from the players selected; and more than this, when something is wrong, they stand up and demand action - irrespective of whether or not they are winning. Whilst Liverpool fans moan about the Board and show misguided loyalty to Benitez and his woefully inadequate team, the Mancs cut through the crap and cheer when cheering is appropriate and protest when something merits their contempt.
Football fans get the club they deserve and that explains why we are now in the mess we are in. Back in the good old days, the days of Lyall and Greenwood, West Ham were a family club with footballing traditions. We didn't win much, but what we won, we won with style. Our football was cultured, distinctive, and our fans were passionate, humorous and honest.
I well remember players getting the bird through the seventies and early eighties and fans telling the players what they thought of their performances in no uncertain terms. This was before the moronic repetitive chant of "Johnny Lyall's Claret and Blue Army" took hold, an oral version of the Mexican wave. We sang Bubbles, we questioned the parentage of the guy in black, we sang "Now you're going to believe us" and other favourites - and we were not shy to cheer nor howl our disgust at individual mistakes. Eustace was nicknamed Useless, Ferguson and Grotier were tolerated but never revered, Best was a figure of fun at times, and not always because of his skin colour...and so it went on.
But we never booed - not an individual and never the team, no matter how disappointing the performance. Booing was uncivilised, like spitting. You could yell "You useless f'in tosser" (the c word was unacceptable) into the face of a player as he collected the ball for a throw in, but you would never boo, just like you would throw a punch in a scrap but you would never spit. We were East End working class but we had standards.
On Saturday, there was a different atmosphere inside the ground. Some of the old humour was there but it had become rancid. The song about Mido is disgusting and so much of the chanting is focused now on hating Lampard, Millwall and Tottenham. For most of the game you would never have guessed that we were playing Bolton. A stranger to football would have been within his rights to ask, which player is Lampard and which side is Millwall and which one Tottenham? The booing at half time was dreadful. Yes I was angry about our first half performance but you do not boo your own team. In fact, you don't boo any team or any player because it is a crassly moronic thing to do.
I am not saying Parker was right here mind. The crowd had every right to be edgy and certainly played their part in offering encouragement when the team gave them the opportunity to do so - the players simply failed to respond. No, the passion was there but it was an infected passion and it is illustrated by the hatred all too often communicated through the comments section of this blog.
Why are we in the mess we are now in? Because too many of our fans are now knee jerk, grunting morons, rallying to the Nuremberg rallying cries of "Gianfranco Zola's Claret and Blue Army" and joining in the chorus of booing, yet unable to think for themselves, reflect dispassionately on the merits of the team and management and are incapable or unwilling to admit to the truth. Supporting West Ham is worn like a badge of loyalty and, like Nazi footsoldiers or bleating sheep, far too many fans are terrified to sing anything other than from the authorised hymn sheet. Mid match they boo to the orders of the oberstanfuhreurs, but at 6.30 they howl abuse at anybody who breaks ranks from the Party and dares to say that the team and management are crap.
Look at the defence of Duxbury. The guy was a tosser who took every West ham fan for a mug. But as long as he was at the club, he was untouchable as far as Three Monkeys Brigade were concerned. Anybody who voiced concerns about the Dark Puppet Master was a "Spud".
Sadly, far too many West Ham fans are mugs. "Thick in the arm and thick in the head" was how my Dad used to describe a certain "type", and sadly that sums up far too many of our modern fan base. Values no longer matter. Hatred has replaced humour. The ability to laugh at ourselves has been forgotten. Booing has replaced the acerbic comment. Blind loyalty has displaced reason.
In Zola we trust? That says it all really! What has he done to merit our trust exactly? But dare to question him and the very guys who boo the team on Saturday, leap to his defence. It makes no sense.
These same fans who now salute the idealist Zola and everything he stands for, once saluted his antithisis, the ultimate pragmatist Curbishley. It is brainless support, the Zeich Heil salute of the Party Member. I am repeatedly told that I don't support West Ham because I dare to question what is going on. That, I am told, is negative. That destroys morale. That makes me a troll and a Spud. No it doesn't, it means I have a brain of my own!
I care about West Ham but the West Ham I care about has become divorced from a large section of the fans. West Ham fans used to understand the game. West Ham fans used to have high expectations. West Ham fans used to be able to laugh at themselves. West Ham fans used to argue amongst themselves but take the fight to the opposition. West Ham fans used to be amongst the best in the land.
Pardew nailed it brilliantly when he wore that "Moore than just a football club" top. Bobby Moore would not recognise many of our modern fans. I support the West Ham Trinity of Moore, Greenwood and Lyall - perhaps we old school fans should wear yellow and green scarves like the Mancs, expressing our support for the soul of our club!
Posted by Hammersfan at 17:22