I have a theory, which I may or may not have previously proffered. I believe that people who don’t like football think that people who do, are only interested in it to spite the people who don’t and not because they enjoy it. Reading the Chesterfield messageboards following our, frankly, epic win on Tuesday night, I’m beginning to wonder whether I should amend my thinking.
According to their fans, the Spirerites are, amongst other things, tactically inept, incapable of seeing games out, impotent in midfield, toothless in attack, defensively shocking. Every part of their game is failing.
You would never think they were second in the table and the league’s top scorers. You would think that they’d won 2 in 9 and were staring at the real possibility of dropping into the relegation zone.
It does make me wonder whether football fans acutally hate football.
We demand to be rewarded for our loyalty. It doesn’t come easily, but at Wembley we were. And yet, defying Newton’s Third Law for that action there is not an equal but opposite reaction. Or, we offer no reward in return.
The patch we’ve been in stinks, and, apparently, its all been Chris Wilder’s fault. Do we admire him for what he’s achieved? Or do we callously consume our success; picking our teeth and burping when we’re sated without a single thank you?
Some managed to shoehorn a few ‘I told you so’s’ into the Wilder debate. They predicted his failings months, perhaps even years ago. It sounds like we actually want him to fail. Perhaps he’s the games teacher at school who we hated for shouting at us. Perhaps we’re jealous that he’s making a living from professional sport whilst we toil away in our mundane offices and factories. Do we actually hate him for all this?
The players get similar treatment. James Constable, a man more than any other who has got us back into the league, is now accused of being disinterested and out of his depth. But it’s not just him; it’s all of them. Are these just the cool kids at school who got all the pretty girls and were good at every sport? Are we just waiting for them to fail? Or, if they don’t fail, get old and slow... and then fail. Do we simply follow football, not because we like it, but because it's something for us to actively dislike?
We even seem to thrive on the fact we dislike each other as fans. Watch any messageboard or phone in and it’s full of disagreements and dissent. Not exactly a yellow and blue army marching under a common banner.
We’re not alone, look at the Chesterfield fans, but we seem to love football because it’s an opportunity to expose and mock the weaknesses of those who are more successful or physically attractive than us.
As I understand it Chris Wilder’s reaction to Tuesday’s win was a bit of chest beating followed by a media blackout. Given what he’s had to endure, I don’t blame him, whilst it’s there for us to enjoy, the success on Tuesday was first and foremost, his.