Every time I sit down to watch an MK Dons game, Twitter on my iPhone and Bovril on the wall in front of me, I am confronted on said Twitter by a repeated question. This often takes the form of “Franchise Wa***rs, not real football fans, wonder who they supported before?”
Now I know I should turn the other cheek. It’s easy sport for op
|Loyalty to Football Or The Club
(Image © Mariusz Cieszewski: PolandMFA)
position fans. I’m not sure I wholy agree with the Wimbledon / Dons transition either (although it’s certainly not as black and white as many make it). It’s not the franchise bit that gets me. It’s the inference that because the ‘accuser’ has only ever supported one club, has followed them home and away, sleet and snow, promotion and relegation etc they are real football fans whilst the rest of us aren’t.
My guess is that MK Dons draw from a diverse range of football fans. I know many dads who have given up lifelong season tickets at Arsenal, Chelski and Spurs because of two reasons. Firstly, The MK Dons invest a lot into local schools, the kids see them and ultimately drag dad (and mum) along. Before long, the season ticket has gone and the Dons have become the norm. Secondly, the reality of life kicks in. Following your team home and away was great whilst single, childless and without job comitments. However, time moves on and the difference between leaving at 2:30 and back at 5:30 for a game locally to a full saturday out becomes marked. Suddenly family life is part of the individuals time equation. I guarantee in the mind of the ‘ Twitter Accusers’ that this in itself means you are not a ‘real football fan’.
Then there’s the other category (which I fall into). And I fully admit, many of my mates just don’t get this! I have always supported my local club. I’ve had season tickets at York City, Hull City, Nottingham Forest, Swindon Town, Rushden & Diamonds and MK Dons. Many of those I have followed passionately – home and away, through relegation and promotion, sleet and snow etc. Guessing though that again, because I have not followed one club from cradle to grave I am not a ‘real football fan’.
In addition to that, particularly in my younger days, I would watch several teams in one week. So I might do York City on a Saturday, Leeds on a Monday, Scarborough Tuesday and Harrogate Town on a Wednesday. In short I couldn’t get enough of live football at whatever level. I’ve watched football on holiday, created holidays so I can watch football even. Many of those games I would be impartial but others I would take sides. Again, the ‘Twitter Accuser’ indicates that this short term loyalty it means I’m not a ‘real football fan’.
In summary, I’ve probably seen more sides, more grounds and watched football at more grounds than many of the fans that fervantly follow one club. My lack of loyalty means I can often comment more objectively on a football match that I watch.
But hey what do I know? Right now, and because of my family growing up with them, probably forever, I am an MK Dons fan and therefore I know nothing: I am not a ‘real football fan’.