by Jamie Whitehead

Football fans, on the whole, are a fickle bunch. Hardly a revolutionary statement but one that holds a certain amount of gravitas and weight. One look on the football fan’s modern day weapon of choice – the internet forum – simply confirms this age-old notion…

When your team is doing well, and by doing well read ‘slightly battling above expectation’ the forum is a Zen like haven. Ratings out of ten are given, your star striker was ‘unlucky’ to have missed that sitter and the manager got it spot on making those changes at those times.

In times of crises, the forum becomes a den of hatred, self loathing, confessions of faith loss and many a statement along the lines of “This is the worst (insert team name here) side I’ve seen in sixty four years of going!”

In times of crises, every angle of the football club is torn apart. These can often be divided into several different sections of venom.

1) It’s the Chairman’s fault!

Here’s a man who when he bought the club was seen as a visionary. He spent money to get new players; he gave new incentives along the lines of Kids for a Quid or free tickets to schools. But in the last January Window, he didn’t manage to find £50 million to get that new fullback and striker you so desperately need. It’s time to get the board out! They’re living in the past.

2) It’s the Manager’s fault!

Wrong players picked, played out of position. The Manager is clueless and we need to do everything we can to get Jose Mourinho (See Point 1)

3) It’s the Players’ fault!

“We pay all this money to watch you put no effort in and then you go home to your massive mansion and you’re beautiful wife and don’t care”

“He’s just looking for a new contract”

“He’s not fit to wear the shirt, he didn’t kiss the badge” etc, etc.

I think these people think that if you put them in a shirt and gave them a game, they’d suddenly give it their all and have skills better than Messi they never knew they had.

4) It’s the Fans’ fault!

When everything comes under scrutiny, no one is safe. Not even the paying public. A single dad who only gets to see his kids at the weekend is suddenly public enemy number one because he can’t make the match. The supporters who do bear the dreary hell that is a trip to a game is scrutinised for the following:

Standing up : (fair enough)

Going to the toilet

Bringing food to their seat

Leaving their seat after thirty minutes to make sure they beat the half time rush for a pint

Leaving before the end to beat the traffic. A crime punishable by death according to some.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, of course. But the internet gave the world a voice. And it’s a voice that gets abused far too often.

The poster (or OP) will be looking for sympathy, but rarely gets it.

We then get to the dreaded member of every forum. The ‘In The Know’ or ‘ITK’ this is one of those strange people you see hanging around outside empty football grounds during the week in the hope Sky Sports News will turn up. He knows that Player X will be signing this summer because his wife’s sisters’ friend is an Estate Agent and the player’s agent has been looking at houses in the area. Such information stops the rumour being a rumour and makes it SHEER UNADULTERATED FACT. He knows that the manager has lost the dressing room, and mysteriously, has the map to relocate it.

The ITK knows all about the youths and reserves, but never lets on too much information regarding their plans. He (and it’s always a man) then proudly bellows behind his screen name referencing a cup-winning goal in 1913 and 24,876 posts that he knew all along.

Then there is the lost supporter. Always an armchair fan. Bemoans the terrible attendances and the fact people don’t sing in the ground anymore.  When attacked as to why he doesn’t attend games and isn’t a ‘true fan’ his response is ‘I wouldn’t pay my hard earned to see that shower of shite’ When challenged why he didn’t attend in happier times, he remains suspiciously quiet.

This is often the supporter who starts a thread entitled “I’ve lost the love” If your team has had an awful season, your forum will almost certainly have endured this thread. The post will read something like this:

“It’s not like it used to be. The money coming in from Sky has ruined the game. I don’t feel the same passion anymore. When I get to the ground, the blood doesn’t pump like it used too. I just feel like giving up”

The poster (or OP) will be looking for sympathy, but rarely gets it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. As you get older, your tastes change. In everything. You don’t drink the same beer you did when you were 18. You might still love the old punk albums you adored as a teenager, but you don’t actively go out seeking new punk bands to listen to. The type of films you enjoyed, as a thirteen year old probably don’t hold the same appeal as forty edges ever closer. Why should football be any different? Because Sky force down our throats that you have to be a ‘Fanatic’ it’s perceived that if you start losing interest, you’re actually turning your back on your religion. Harsh.

Football, like music, films, books, theatre and countless other leisure pursuits is a form of entertainment. The forum would do well to remember that.

And while you’re there. Every Off Topic section has a 100+ page thread on trying to impress a girl. Read it. But remember, you have work in the morning.

Jamie Whitehead is Producer and Co-Host of 3for3. Follow them on Twitter @3for3_ and him @jamiewh_ He clearly spends too much time on Internet Forums.