What is the role of the Football Fan? And are fans changing?

I’m writing this the day after we lost at home to Bolton in the Premier League, in what appears to be a relegation season. The odds are certainly well stacked against us now, and survival though not mathematically impossible, looks well beyond us.

I’m writing this though to look at the fans, and how in today’s society their approach to the game has changed. Relegation is never easy, and so this is proving this year, but someone has to finish bottom, and it looks like it’s our turn this time, so why then now are so many giving up their season tickets and turning away from the club in many different ways?

Society is all about ‘today’, I want it now, and no time for the future or a patient approach. Many people are no longer content with their lives, always chasing something just out of reach. The Premier League changed football forever, ‘The Greed League’ it could be called as it is all about money and the success of the big clubs. In many ways it is a cheat’s league with too many players being allowed to cheat week in week out. If you disagree, why hasn’t diving been stamped out once and for all years ago, and technology introduced.

Now the fans seem to think the same way, but we don’t have a divine right to be in the Premier League; but fans who have supported the club for many years in the lower leagues, are giving up after another year of struggle. Have they forgotten that only 3 clubs at most can win domestic honours? Have they forgotten that it takes two teams to have a match, and in the case of the Premier League 20 teams to make the division.

Wolves fans always think of themselves as supporting a big club. That rubs off on one another and so when we were trawling through the lower leagues we were the big attraction everywhere we went as we always took a big support. Why?

Well because being a Wolves fan is more than supporting a winning team. If that’s all you want then become another mindless Man U fan, we don’t want you. We want Wolves fans who are just that, Wolves fans. People who will be there at Chorley – as several of us were – or at Carlisle, when under Docherty we hadn’t won for exactly half a season. That is what support is. Not turning up because a team I have an affiliation with happen to be winning a few games or have had a good start to the season.

In considering life back in the Championship many of us have already realised some advantages. More 3pm Saturday kick offs, cheaper prices, less cheats, less greed, more games, hopefully more wins, some great drinking towns and higher league position. Get back our sense of camaraderie, our collective passion and fight, get the hard core back showing unity. This is not being a happy clapper, this is supporting your club.

Arguably we have just had one bad (or not so good year) in five. Not a bad ratio, considering many of us went through 3 successive relegations, now that was tough. But we were still there, still supporting the Wolves – that’s what we do.

My son Simon asked why we had to put up with another heavy defeat the other week, when many were walking out. I replied it’s character building, you can only appreciate the good times and successes properly if you have been through the hard times. Anyone can support a winning team, but a supporter supports his team irrespective of the results, league placing or division.

Walking to the ground yesterday with Rick Pepper, we were talking about the Play Off Final at Cardiff. We scored after 7 or 8 minutes and Rick had started to cry, and he cried right through to halftime because it meant so much. He has stood by Wolves during the 21 years out of the top flight, but he was there to soak up the occasion when it was our turn to get some success.

So relegation as unpleasant as it seems, is not the end; it will sort the men from the boys, hopefully getting rid of the fair weather fans, and moaning old gits along the way. But I expect we shall see who the true Wolves fans are next year, at some cold mid week fixtures when the team aren’t playing well. But when that night comes I shall take a moment and look at my friends and acquaintances and recognise that they like me are Wolves. I for one will be proud to be there. I hope you are too.


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