It’s about the beautiful game, not glory
THE phrase “glory hunter” is a well used derogatory term in sporting circles, especially among doting football fans, where bragging rights are everything. For those who are not too familiar with the concept, glory hunters can be roughly described as fans who align themselves with a particular club only because they are winning and successful.
The penchant to “back the winning horse”, if you like, sees this so-called fan jumping ship when the going gets tough and supporting another club that is on a roll. In simple terms, loyalty is not a consideration for these fickle fans.
Swopping allegiances has become quite common among local supporters of English football and it seems to happen with greater regularity than Neymar diving in the penalty box.
The rise of teams like Chelsea and Manchester City over the past decade or so has given more traction to glory hunting.
Roll back the clock to 2003. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, with some pocket change, decided to buy underachievers Chelsea. Through Abramovich’s injection of cash, the club began to bag silverware, with a younger Jose Mourinho at the helm.
In no time, thousands of new Blues fans were born. Sentiments such as “My team won the league” was common fodder. What do you mean “your team” exactly?
In 2008, Sheikh Mansour purchased City for an astronomical amount and injected insane sums of cash to make the club successful. The team went on to become champions of England and even greater rivals to Manchester United and Chelsea’s supremacy.
Suddenly hundreds of City fans began to pop out of the woodwork. People who have the most minimal of knowledge of the club’s history became die-hard supporters. Who are they kidding?
The same thing happened when minnows Leicester City won the title a couple of seasons ago, albeit on a smaller scale.
Why is this the case, especially in football? What do you actually stand to lose or gain by backing the right team? How about being neutral and simply enjoying the “beautiful game”?
In saying this, I respect all true, loyal fans who continued to support their respective clubs even when the days were dark and the trophy cabinet bare.
Admirable are the long-suffering supporters of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. The last time Liverpool won the league title, the National Party was still in power in South Africa. Since then, one lucky Champions League win has been their only major success.
However, this is not to rub salt into the wounds of Reds fans, it is a compliment to you guys for sticking with your team through thick and thin (mostly thin). Of course, there were those Liverpool fans who have since decided to defect to the likes of Chelsea and City (sigh).
I write this to urge all football fans to think deeply about why they support the teams they back. The sad reality is that most local English football fans were not born in Manchester, for example, let alone England or Europe. Nor do we have relatives who were born or live there and most of us will never set foot in that country.
At the end of the day, the teams people align themselves with is their choice, but does the rivalry between supporter groups here in South Africa have to be as fiery and intense as those in England, thousands of kilometres away.
To the local glory hunters I’d like to say, when a youngster born in Manchester, for example, throws in his lot with the red or blue half of the city, it’s usually for a lifetime.
Take a look at our own Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs – you hardly ever hear of their respective fans crossing the floor.
On the field, Chelsea and Liverpool were involved in a pulsating draw over the weekend while United seem to be well and truly on the ropes.
And Jose Mourinho seems to be in the midst of another third-season syndrome (his team was thumped 3-1 by West Ham at the weekend). My guess is that he won’t see Christmas wearing United’s colours.
The club presently is a sinking ship and there seems to be no lifesaving jackets available.
In closing, well done to the Boks, Lewis Hamilton and Cape Town City on winning the MTN 8 final. Better luck next time to the Sharks.
Liverpool fans in full voice ahead of their recent match against Leicester.