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Loud Or Dignified – How Should Fans Behave?

A key issue that’s been bugging me and several other Football tweeps over the past couple of months is would people at clubs rather have loud rowdy fans or quiet dignified one’s that barley make an atmosphere at games.

Should fans be more dignified when it comes to their chants and choice of words and chant about their own team and not slate the officials and opposition players or should they just attend the game quietly barley making a noise at all?

It’s an issue that I can relate to when it comes to games at the Oakside, home of course to my beloved Redbridge and our tenants Barkingside, who I also love, but not quite in the same way.

One of the key problems that both clubs have rather sadly, is a lack of support that at times gets me really wound up. Whereas other clubs in Redbridge’s division for example, such as Enfield Town, Harlow Town and Needham Market have a great bunch of supporters who make their presence felt at matches.

Redbridge sadly don’t have a large group of fans – or even a small group of 10-15 people who will do the odd chant here or there, which at times especially when there is a large group of away supporters at our games does make it slightly embarrassing for me to a degree, as often, the only noise you’re hear during a game is from them which can be quite soul-destroying at times.

It’s something that annoys me, as those clubs in question do clearly have that ’12th man’ so to speak and when clubs have that, it makes the hard-working people behind the scenes know that their work is really worthwhile and that their club does ‘mean’ something to these fans. In short having a good fanbase for clubs is vital not just in the short-term but in the long-term as well and clearly clubs who have a good support group are clearly doing something right.

Our manager Jody Brown touched upon this subject in his programme notes before our 2-1 win over Potters Bar on Tuesday Night, claiming that vocal fans ‘drive players on as well as effecting refereeing decisions.’ Looking at both of those points in detail, they are both true.

 Players’ performances whether they like to admit it or not, are at times effected by the supporters around them. Players from sides who have supporters will more than likely stick around at a club if the overall club is going somewhere and if you’ve got supporters it makes those players feel appreciated to a degree.

Officials certainly get influenced by supporters, whether they too like to admit it or not and you can see them ‘evening’ out decisions in games to at times please those vocal fans so they can ‘lay’ off on the abuse for abit and carry on with the game.

So getting back on track, how should fans best behave at games? Should they be loud, chanting non stop through the game or should they respect those around them and watch the game quietly. As you would imagine this isn’t a straight forward topic to answer, as fans after all as we’ve established are different and whilst attending games act differently.

Some like to chant and make a noise, others like to talk amongst themselves, some may just want to sit quietly, some may be bringing their children or partner to the game and may want to just enjoy a game without hearing the swearing from the chants. That’s their choice and all those fans know that as long as they behave sensibly and don’t cross the line then it’s all fair and they have to respect fans who behave differently at games, than them.

All clubs will get the odd rowdy bunch of supporters, and it’s something that the more successful you are as a club the more of these supporters you’re get.

Of course at the same time as long as they behave, well that’s only a good thing as it’s more people knowing about the club and coming down to games and spreading the word about the club. Yes fans should if they’re chanting, direct chants that relate to their team and not insult opposition players and officials.

But having a go at opposition players and officials is something that happens and is something that those players and officials know is going to happen from time to time. We’ve all seen it happen and heard about how for some opposition players that motivates them to perform better and that in many cases they enjoy the banter, it’s part of what makes football a great sport to see live.

I know I’d rather have loud fans chanting and creating an atmosphere at my club (without going over the line just for the sake of it) than having no atmosphere at games, which sadly sometimes is what I have to put up with sitting in my ‘home committee’ section at our games.

Reluctantly it’s often me who may have a go at the ref from time to time, just for the sake of it as nobody else does it due to our small support and at times it can be ‘enjoyable’ in a way having a go at a ref when a bad decision has been made and venting your anger on a game.

In conclusion as long as those chanting fans represent the club well and don’t get the club’s name in a bad light, which sadly does happen from time to time that’s all that matters.

 A fan may make more of a presence at games that may make them seem more ‘important’, but no fan is bigger than another one and at the end of the days clubs have to maintain and improve on the support that they have and hopefully make them passionate to be about the place.  After all the great thing about football is that it brings people together and that’s something that not alot of things in this world are able to do.

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