What does it mean to be a “Supporter”?

A supporter can be many things.  People need emotional supporters and financial supporters usually in the form of family and friends.

Sporting teams need supporters to generate revenue for the clubs.  Imagine Chelsea taking the field each week to 2 old men and a dog watching, would they be fielding the side of talent they field week in week out.  The answer is no.  Without the supporters generating revenue for the clubs there would be no star signings.

The Online Oxford Dictionary definition of a supporter is:

Definition of supporter

noun

  • 1a person who approves of and encourages a public figure, political party, policy, etc.:Labour supporters
  •  a person who is actively interested in and wishes success for a particular sports team:an Oxford United supporter
  • 2 Heraldry a representation of an animal or other figure, typically one of a pair, holding up or standing beside an escutcheon.

Even the Oxford Dictionary makes reference to being a football supporter!

I have been lucky in that I chose to support a team who were at the beginning of the rise to great things.  I first watched Chelsea in 1990 – 1991 season, just after the World Cup.  My interest in football being piqued by seeing Paul Gascoigne crying.

At the time Chelsea were playing in the First Division and ended the season 11th joint on points with Tottenham and one place above QPR.  They were not a top of the table side.  My first trip to a professional football match was to Fulham as Chelsea were away that weekend.  Being born in Hammersmith I can say that I support my local club, but in actual fact I support Chelsea because my Grandad does and he is the one who took me to the matches.  The role has now been reversed and I take him to the matches, but that for me is as it should be.

My Dad is a QPR supporter so I had a lucky escape that he was busy on saturday’s refereeing otherwise I would have been forced to watch them play week in week out instead!

Things changed for Chelsea in 1994 when they reached the FA Cup Final even though they lost to Man Utd 4 – 0.  As we hadn’t been in the final since 1970 the club went ahead with the pre-arranged open top bus tour the next day and thousands of fans still lined the streets to celebrate even though we lost the match.

For various reasons mostly money being put in allowing us to attract some big name players which then snowballed into Chelsea becoming a team people wanted to play for we slowly began to achieve success.  We went from finishing mid table to playing “Sexy Football” with the “Italian Connection”.

I was lucky enough to go to the 1997 FA Cup Final, thanks to my Grandad finishing work early to queue up for tickets outside the ground.  I still get goosebumps as I remember Roberto Di Matteo’s shot and goal inside the first minute of the game.  An emotion I will never forget and something that only sport can give you.  The fact I shouted “shoot” as my view of him was lost behind a Wembley post right at the moment he shot for goal and lobbed the keeper (I believe it was Ben Roberts), made it all the more special.  That and Di Matteo was my poster boy at the time!

Recently I read a blog from a Stoke City supporter and it made me realise something I hadn’t previously considered.  What if I hadn’t chosen Chelsea, what if I had chosen QPR instead?  A lot of my family support QPR, logistically it is almost as close to Hammersmith as Chelsea and therefore could also claim to be my local club.  What difference would it have made?

The answer is simple, it would have made all the difference in the world.  Instead of being annoyed that my team only managed to win 1 out of 7 trophies they competed for last season and just about managed to finish 3rd outright without the need of a play off my team would have been relegated.  In the time that Chelsea have been in the ascension QPR have been between finishing towards the bottom of the premiership, got relegated and promoted up from the lower divisions only to get relegated again.

If your team is one that finishes in the middle of the premiership what do you have to look forward to?  Unless you have a massive cash injection it is unlikely you will ever reach the top of the premiership pile.  Your best shot is a good run in the FA Cup and Carling Cup and the money that brings is invaluable to bringing in talent for the next season.  But then being a mid-table club you often don’t attract the cream of managers and players and have to settle for the “almost rans”.

This season we saw the bottom of the premiership become tighter than ever on points with West Ham finishing 10th on 46 points to Sunderland finishing 17th on 39 points – 7 points splitting 7 league places with 36 point being the first relegation spot.  So what does that mean for the teams in the bottom of the premiership going into next season? Well realistically unless they spend money and get some good quality players in next season and mount a bit of a charge it will be same again.

The premiership has almost become 2 leagues who will finish in the top 10 and who will finish in the bottom 7, obviously no-one wants to be in the bottom 3 holding the rest up!

It is a similar story for Arsenal and Tottenham supporters.  Arsenal were once “invincible” but since then have become a feeder club for teams like Barcelona and with that their hold on the Premiership has waned.  Most Arsenal supporters are now happy if they finish above Tottenham.  What happened to the team who were fighting for the Champions League and the FA Cup on a regular basis?  They are now 8 years since winning a cup and most of the players who have left have gone on to win trophies.

Tottenham have become the side that finishes 5th in the league and takes up a place in the Europa League.  To be fair to Tottenham 2011/2012 season they did qualify for the Champions League with a 4th place finish when the best Chelsea could manage was 6th.  We would be out of the Champions League if we didn’t win on the 19th May 2012 in Munich the home stadium of Bayern Munich our rivals for the Champions League trophy, of course we all know what happened that night and unlucky Tottenham got their Europa place back.

My work colleague pointed out to me that as a Tottenham supporter he was happy with 5th place as he thought realistically that was where they were now. He said with Chelsea winning the Europa League this season it would spur Tottenham on to win it next year.  They have a reasonable side and need a couple of good signings to push for the top 4 but a lot will hinge on whether Gareth Bale stays or goes.  Should he stay to start the season the speculation with be there again once the transfer window opens in January.  Perhaps to stabilise the club it is better to let him go now for big money and bring in a couple of players at the start of the season.

Maybe I should think twice next time I get frustrated over Chelsea not doing the best they can.  Now we have the Special One and the Special Juan we will be a force to reckon with.  I agree with Jose, I think for the talent we have at the club we have under achieved in the last couple of seasons but I’m so excited to now see where we go from here.  One things for sure unless something goes horribly wrong Chelsea will be fighting for the top 4 finish in the premiership and really that is nothing to complain about when the alternative is supporting QPR!

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