04 March 2011

When is a Fan, a Fan?

There’s a well known saying among Liverpool supporters which basically goes like this...

If you don’t go, don’t blow.

It basically means that if an individual wasn’t in attendance at a Liverpool match (be it at Anfield or at some away ground), he or she doesn’t have the right to comment or provide any in-depth analysis into Liverpool’s performance during the match in question.

But, with the age of Sky (which coincides with the advent of the Premier League) and the burgeoning role the internet is playing, this concept is only correct to an extent. On TV, one only sees the players the cameras are focused on or more specifically, the players the TV director chooses to show to the viewing public. So, someone sat on their sofa in the comfort of their own homes or a pub somewhere couldn’t possibly see what Player A or Player B is doing off the ball. A player covering empty space to limit the opposition’s options isn’t as exciting enough for TV but in footballing terms, if implemented properly, could be as vital as a crunching, last-minute tackle (good TV). The same goes to say, a fullback making a darting run into space to pull away at least one of the opposition’s defenders. More often than not, the fullback is ignored by the ball-carrying player as a better or more direct opportunity presents itself, thanks to the fullback’s run in the first place. As with the “empty space” player, the fullback isn’t the focus of the cameras as he hugs the touchline and gradually drifts out of the 16:9 TV view.

Clearly, match-going fans have the advantage of seeing all these off-the-ball antics (if they choose to do so) and I’d happily admit that match-goers have the advantage over a largely TV-watching fan like myself who has only watched a handful of games at Anfield (including one on the Kop – just had to stress that one!). So, does this make me less of a fan?

Probably, but that’s not the problem. The problem is the “blowing” bit. You see, at the very least, I and most of the decent TV-watching fans actually watch every minute of every Liverpool game before coming up with any sort of opinion, conclusion or solution. If it’s not watched live at home, at a pub or at a friend’s place, I’d catch-up by watching the full match online (normally via my LFC TV account). Only when all that has been done will I deem myself worthy of adding my views to a conversation on a Liverpool match. OK, I might jump in here and there if the conversation veers towards previously watched matches or more general issues related to the club but in general, if I didn’t go (or watch), I just wouldn’t blow.

Unfortunately though, this concept doesn’t seem to come through a small but annoyingly vocal minority of Liverpool “fans”.

Take for example Mr. A, who can be very vocal when voicing opinions about this and that player and this and that manager (before Dalglish came along of course). Naturally, he professes love for the club but when queried on how many games he has actually watched, he’ll honestly, without an ounce of guilt or regret declare that he has only watched a handful of games when the season is already at the 20+ games played stage. And, even when he does catch the odd game, it’ll be limited to a few glances at the TV screen when a Liverpool outfield player can be seen passing the ball back to goalkeeper. Conclusion? Player is merde and has no right wearing the red of Liverpool. Why the player decided on a backpass in the first place isn’t even considered. It takes too much energy for such a “fan” to even think of in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong though. Mr A isn’t your average bumbling idiot so, to avoid being seen as socially dysfunctional and not being able to contribute to conversations in an adequate manner, he would’ve done some research on the matter. Hence, watching a bit of Match of the Day and picking up the few tabloids that he can get his hands on is a must. It’s no wonder then that every opinion that comes out of his mouth sounds exactly like the mindless poop that counts as expert opinion in the mainstream media (especially embarrassing when the opinion is actually a whole week old). Sounds good and well researched to untrained ears but to the decent fan, it’s as unpleasant as the sound of fingernails scratching on a blackboard.

At first, I thought the people I despised most (when it comes to football) were the unhealthily obsessive Liverpool-watchers (correctly pointed out by Chris Rowland in his write-up as Mancs) but that’s slowly changing these days. It’s the enemy within that Liverpool fans should be wary of not the openly hostile ones from that other club.

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