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Happy When Skies Are Grey – A Middlesbrough Fan’s Viewpoint

As much as we probably don’t like to admit it, football fans are a strange, fickle breed. We experience euphoric highs and find ourselves in pits of despair (on alternate weeks for a lot of clubs). Those who don’t know, will never ever understand. To be honest I don’t really care, I’m selfish enough to drag family, friends and anyone who’ll listen on my emotional rollercoaster with me but one thing I repeatedly get asked as my whining is interrupted  is ‘Why do you put yourself through it?’ As a Boro fan, it becomes really difficult to explain why we sit and watch a match, watch analysis, read articles or listen to phone ins that make us more and more upset throughout the week before Saturday rolls around and we go through it all again. We’ve been in dismal form for a long time, capitulating in conceding three to bottom of the league this weekend. Then at 3-0 down I found myself asking the same question. Why do I bother?

The truth is there are three main reasons we put ourselves through this. Firstly it’s innate. We have no choice in the matter. We could all say that we will just stop, cold turkey, no more football. Watch the odd game, avoid the stress but it would never happen. We all know we’d be dragged straight back in because it’s in our nature, our blood and is too big a part of us to be just cut out. So what are the other reasons, the one I would like to get out of the way quickly applies to a small minority and that is a desire to gloat. Usually for the glory supporter this one, the Hampshire United fan who’s dad supported United, so they had to and that’s why they happen to support the team that wins most of the time. Quite frankly that type of fan winds me up so there will be no more said about that. For the rest of us, one of the main reasons we invest so much time torturing ourselves with endless coverage is much gloomier. Simply, without realising it a lot of the time, we love a good moan.

I find that since this run of awful form begun in 2013 (Worst in all 4 divisions) a lot of fans have become a lot more vocal. While gates fall, voices rise and more and more people tend to have their say on who should go, who needs a kick up the backside and what it actually is that they do to earn that money. You get protests outside the ground and banners made demanding the roll of a manager’s head when you’re awful, where 3 wins on the bounce would be met with a content smile. I find that the passionate football fans in the world are generally frustrated, upset and angry (hence the famous St James’ atmosphere up the road). We are martyrs for our clubs and I think that on some subconscious level we actually enjoy the bad weeks almost as much as the good because we can have a good old moan.

This works just as well on the international stage. I can’t remember a time when anybody actually praised the manager for doing well, granted performances haven’t helped until the last two, but the fact is we love it when England don’t do well because we love to moan about it. I’m not saying we don’t want to win the World Cup next year, it would be amazing, and it would bring a whole country together, more so than any Olympics. But when the inevitable last 16, maybe quarters performance comes to fruition a large proportion of us will take delight in having a good old whinge.

So basically what I’m saying is in the darkest days as a football fan, there will always be a silver lining. You have something to moan about. It might not feel like it at the time but deep down somewhere I know most of you feel the same. When you are wondering on a drizzle filled night in February why you bothered to come and watch this load of rubbish, the communal pub based whinge will help.

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