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A View From OZ: Where's The Support?

A View From OZ: Where's The Support?

Tonight, still today in England, I sat down to watch Queens Park Rangers play at home to Stoke City in the championship. In comparison to Ashburton Grove, Loftus Road is a fish tank, to put its size in perspective it is not even half the capacity of Highbury. Yet, still, a three quarters full QPR crowd out sung almost any crowd at the Grove except for on the rare occasions, three times a season, when T*ttenham, United or Chelsea come to visit.

This is not really all that surprising, Arsenal home fans having earned a reputation as a quiet bunch. It would be much less surprising if it were West Brom, Wolves or Cardiff fans belting out songs at a volume that shames the part-time supporters and glory hunters that attach themselves to clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and United. QPR, though, are going through some what of a rennaisance with their new Formula One money and Italian flavor and it seems to be reflected in the crowd and their attitude, but still one would think they were safe in assuming that a team sitting top of the table in the self-proclaimed 'best league in the world' would have more to sing about than a team pushing for mid table security in the division below.

Now before I offend to many people who I mean no disrespect to, I have stated many times before that, even from televised coverage, it is apparent that Arsenal's away fans are some of the most vocal and humorous in the country. So why is it that the home support is so shit?

While watching the Villa game this weekend with a bunch of mates, some of who go to watch our local team every week, we were all embarrassed, even from the other side of the world, by the lack of atmosphere and noise coming from the Arsenal fans at their own stadium and how clearly audible Villa's fans (even their less tasteful of chants) were over them. It was not as if this was an irregular occurence, Arsenal's home-only fans regularly seem to grow disenterested in games and their role as 'supporters', quite often because we are winning to easily rather than struggling to do anything. Granted our performance was absoloutely void of creativity and passion, but should we really expect our players to always show up on their A-game every week when our support can only do it three times a year? Do fans not play some active, and important, role in making home advantage actually an advantage? Should athletes feel as if they are playing football in a stadium or a theater?

Whether or not supporters play an active role in their teams success, and whether or not both players and fans have a duty to perform to a certain standard is an old debate. In some European and South American countries support must be earned and if the performance of the team is not up to par then the performance of the fans can be more threatening to the players and manager of the home team than the away fans, Steau Bucharest, Red Star Belgrade, Dinamo Zagreb and River Plate are all examples of such fans.

In Europe there is also another type of support, that of the true 'Ultra'. Not the neo-nazi Lazio fans, or knife wielding Madrid supporters but the supporters of clubs such as Braan, Dortmund, Panathanaikos, Helsingborgs, Legia Warsaw and their like, who spend spare time during their working week making 40 metre square banners and spend whole games singing, dancing and jumping to will their team on, regardless of the results or performances.

Recently English football fans, and many Arsenal fans included, have been extremely vocal and active in their opposition to the ridiculous 39th game scheme, claiming that the clubs and the league were taking them and their support for granted and that clubs were becoming more and more business and profit orientated. Taking, taking, taking and giving nothing back. All though I believe this to be the truth, when should fans feel a responsibility and duty to give something back, if not to their club and its owners/chairmen, then to the team they watch? Why can fans be so vocal and active in rallying against the likes of Scudamore and Usmanov but are so silent and passive in rallying behind their team? when do you stop being an Arsenal 'supporter' and become merely a guy in Arsenal shirt with a ticket?

Sorry for those who read this who get offended - especially coming from an Aussie - but after that dire performance, from both fans and team, I needed to vent the frustration in some form.

Cheers people. Sing Up For The Arsenal!!!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

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Writer:Ozi Gooner
Date:Monday March 3 2008
Time: 4:27PM


Ozi, nice article there. In England at least I detect the first rumblings of major disenchantment with Prem footie. Some old skool fans miss the terraces and togetherness of the old grounds. Then there is the cost and the hassle of buying tickets. Oh for the days of walk up, pay a reasonable amount and find your place on the terrace! Ok there were downsides as we all know but many real football fans are turning to non-league footie. More fun and in some cases better atmosphere!
03/03/2008 16:54:00
Exactly my sentiment Ozi! We condemned those Villa fans who sang that terrible song about Eduardo. But just how 55,000 home fans failed to out-sing them had me scratch my head too to be honest. I know there's an exchange scheme where ticket holders who can't go to a match can re-sell their tickets to other fans. Can I ask those who'd sit there to be entertained without making any noise or showing any sign of support to sell their tickets to someone like me who can't get any tickets to see our team at all?
Lou the Gunneress
03/03/2008 17:33:00
It's unbelievably frustrating. I sit behind the goal, to the left of the noisy corner, and while there are a few people who sing, it seems no one is that bothered. I wouldve thought the atmos was gonna be crackling after the eduardo incident, but it was so lame. When Villa fans started singing "your support is fkin *****", a guy behind me started "Our support is fkin *****". The depressing this is that its true. One of my mates even once got told to be quiet as he was shouting too much. Something needs to be done, but i dont know what...
03/03/2008 18:07:00
it was definitely very quiet last weekend. everything was not right. nobody was in form (fans included). hope we can make more noise in Milan.
03/03/2008 18:17:00
Is this not something we have known for ages, that the Arse support is one of the worst in the league even when you are one of the 'big 4' teams who are challenges for honours each season???? Somehow I dont think we will hear any Arse support when you play Milan this week do you???
03/03/2008 18:55:00
Nah. The away support's been great. It's the home crowd that's not singing. It's hard for a big London stadium not to have corporate customers, but from what you guys saw, were there too many of them, too few singing fans?
Lou the Gunneress
03/03/2008 19:11:00
Coz ur support is RUBBISH!
03/03/2008 19:28:00
i for once am not going to slag you off even tho you are asking for it with this article, after living in england all my life 2 years ago i moved to barcelona (where i still live) the nou camp might be the best stadium in the world but their supporters are utter c r a p compared to the ones back home even 5000 dons fans are louder then 99000 catalans!
03/03/2008 20:15:00
For game atmosphere, away supporting is the best. home games are like this Ozi because the “working man’s sport” has been pricing people out & becoming ‘gentrified’. It’s a money circus: from breakaway leagues to 39th games etc. Even in our own stadium, the prime seats separating the tiers are the money seats. This is how it is and it will blight whoever moves somewhere bigger. Look at ManU - they surely have the quietest home games! Maybe its become more common for people to go along, sit back and receive entertainment rather than give vociferous support. There's no answer to the situation you’ve highlighted. It will happen to QPR & even the mouthy Spuds on here might ask the same question in 10 years if they get a bigger ground. Some random observations: (1) Before blaming fans, blame the organisations that let uncapped money call all the tunes. (2) In the countries of the ‘Ultra’ games are more affordable and accessible to the regular fan. (3) It’s too sanitised today.When I started supporting my village team years ago, you'd hear 1000 of us on a terrace screaming obscenities about the referee’s mother etc. Today you get thrown out if you fart! (4.) We need a terraced area. (5.) Cant put my finger on why sometimes our home support is more vocal than others… maybe it’s to do with having more ‘consumer’ fans due to success on the pitch (6.) A good scattering of vocal fans it lifts the atmosphere around bigger sections of the crowd (7.) Booing is worse than not singing.
03/03/2008 20:44:00
5-1 thanks for talking sense and hehe living in Spain is enviable. Now that you brought up Barca, I guess (1) big stadiums always have some corporate customers, neutrals, tourists, etc. in addition to real fans, which makes it hard to keep the atmosphere - as Andy-bayor pointed out, it's all about money now. I'm sure they don't have 99,000 Catalans when the city's full of tourists and Nou Camp's a tourist attraction, regardless if you have any interest in football. Saw tons of tourists there at the stadium tour myself. (2) Nou Camp's huge but only full when it's a CL game or when Real or Espanyol visit them. (3) Barca, for all the crap support at home, has great away fans too. I guess everyone does, kind of. (4) Spain is in an even more difficult situation than England in a way. I was at Mestalla when Valencia faced Barca at home in Dec. While the Barca away fans sang all through the entire match, the home fans started swearing (yes I could tell even if I don't speak Spanish/Valencian) at their own players in the 1st half when they went 2-0 down, then 1/3 of them left with 30 mins left, the stadium's half-empty when the final whistle was blown. You can hardly change that kind of culture. At least we could still find a way to improve the Emirates atmosphere.
Lou the Gunneress
03/03/2008 21:31:00
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