Premier League Fans Aren’t Always So Premier
Tuesday 3rd April 2012: 2200 BST – Lionel Messi has been at it again and has claimed another victim by knocking AC Milan out of the Champions League quarter finals.
A routine performance from the Barcelona boys and the result will be first agenda tabloid news in the morning.
The match was entertaining it had its unpredictable twists before Messi intervened and the tie was over.
My thirst for for the game is never satisfied however so at full time I had a gander through various sport gossiping websites to see what else was going on in the world of football. Not a huge lot, no Fergie/Mancini mind games, no Harry Redknapp hogging the press limelight not even the latest episode in the never ending Mario Balotelli soap opera.
So my attention turned to League One and as it happened I slipped into reading the report of the Leyton Orient Vs Huddersfield match-up. The same score as the Barca-Milano semi and striker Jordan Rhodes ensured that wasn’t the only similarity between the games as he put two goals past Orient just as Messi crushed the hearts of the Milanese.
Not the first time Rhodes has come to the fore this season but I sat there thinking about just how well the kid has done and yet how little I knew about him and in extension the rest of the football league as a whole when compared with the ‘bigger teams’ in the higher tiers.
We all know how Robin Van Persie’s form has been the closest thing to the record breaking antics of messr’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in England, and how the value of Fernando Torres has diminished as quickly as the growth of Wayne Rooney’s new hairdo but my point is that football is bigger than whether the Premier League pendulum swings to the blue or red half of Manchester or if it’s time for King Kenny and Prince Steven Gerrard to call it quits on Liverpool – the picture is bigger and my argument is that not enough supporters are football fans.
Maybe this isn’t the fault of supporters. Maybe it’s the over-exposure to the Ashley Coles and the John Terrys (not a dig at Chelsea by the way) from the media that take the attention away from news like the state of Kelly Smith’s broken leg with the Olympics around the corner. Regarded as England Women’s star player surely this is more important than whether Premier League footballers can or can’t keep it in their pants?
This has been niggling at me for a short while, and it might not be a huge issue but a little quip from a friend a month or so ago irked me a little. I was picking results for my weekly Saturday accumulator and having picked my Premier League predictions I clicked on the Championship. It was at this moment when my mate said, “Who cares about the Championship?” Quite disrespectful really, and it’s a lack of respect that is unfortunately common in many “football fans” views on lower leagues, God forbid luckily he didn’t see me click on the Spanish Segunda Division.
Understandably people like to watch good football, and yes you don’t see the same standard of fluidity and passing possessed by Arsenal and Spurs as you do when watching with all due respect; Bury host Brentford. But with Premiership ticketing prices constantly on the rise would it be so bad to fork out a tenner and spend two hours watching a Barnet or a Yeovil occasionally at the weekend? Standing on the terraces sipping Bovril from a cup, it might even be enjoyed.
I have friends who support Man United and I have friends who support Sheffield Wednesday and I can categorically say that it is the latter that is the better all round football fan. Lower league supporters that I have come across seem to have a better understanding of football through the divisions they know things mere mortals would never know. I’m a Tottenham supporter and when we came up against Stevenage Borough FC in the FA Cup I have no shame in admitting that I knew nothing about them other than that of their League One status. My Wednesday supporting pal filled me in. “They’ve got a centre-back who they use as a target man, Darius Charles look out for him”. And sure enough come Sunday Harry Redknapp had chosen to play three centre halves at the back in Ryan Nelsen, Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul to thwart the threat of Charles. Something I doubt any of my Premier League supporting mates could have tipped me on.
I’m not saying Man United; Arsenal or Chelsea supporters have an inferior knowledge of football to those of Championship, League One, Two or Conference fans. I’m just saying that the latter sets of fans seem to be more open to football as a whole rather than the continuous monopoly of the Champions League, who will claim this year’s title or if Lionel Messi really is the best ever. For now until a “bigger” club snaps him up Jordan Rhodes will remain a statistic and Kelly Smith’s stress fracture will receive less attention than Arsenal FC’s trophy cabinet (I was always going to have a dig). So when somebody next asks you if you’re a football fan, stop, remember this article and think again or just resume your game between Barcelona and Real Madrid on FIFA 12.