Football can do strange things to a person. One minute you’re an awestruck child soaking up the atmosphere at White Hart Lane, the next you’re a hopeless junkie desperate for your next fix(ture). The kind of fan who feels every opposition goal as a rocketed free kick to the gut, who moves their wedding date because it clashes with a vital cup tie at Port Vale and who lumbers their offspring with the names Shilton, Lineker and Beardsley. Still, it could be worse: you could be into rugby.
2. The bluffer
Every office has one. And they try, bless ’em, they really do. Unfazed by a complete lack of knowledge, these eager phonies blunder through footy chats with all the grace and skill of an arthritic Peter Crouch, pumping out hot air and received opinion in Alan Shearer-like quantities. Still, better a bluffer than the sniffy bore who makes a virtue out of hating football: ‘Twenty two men kicking a ball around? Grow up!’ they snort, before disappearing into busy traffic in hot pursuit of Pokémon.
3. The Premier League fanboy
The money, the greed, the endless face-cream adverts: at its worst, modern football is like a two-footed tackle to the soul. For the average punter, this is something to be fought against, but for the Premier League fanboy, this screaming carnival of bullshit is football. In stadiums, pubs and living rooms across the nation there are men – and they’re always men – in wife-ironed replica shirts who actively look forward to transfer deadline day, think Paul Merson talks a lot of sense and that José Mourinho is a breath of fresh air. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
4. The corporate ligger
At stadiums across the capital, executives from faceless conglomerates are wined and dined in corporate suites stuffed with relics from the Working Man’s Game. While the rest of us slobs pay £75 to sit behind a pillar and munch on a grim hot dog, they quaff free booze and tuck into artisan pies meatier than Wayne Rooney’s face. The average fan would sell their nan for a Cup Final ticket; these spoilt bastards can’t be bothered to come out for the second half. Not while there’s champagne to polish off.
5. The hooli bellend
Most of these boneheads are content to live out their fantasies watching ‘Green Street !: Fucking Have It!’ and downing a can of Stella whenever one of the characters pulls out a knife. Fools, then, but essentially harmless. Much worse are ‘philosophical’ hooligans, the ones who mug for the camera crews and say stuff like: ‘It’s not about violence, it’s about belonging’, before kicking some bloke from Leeds in the windpipe. The beautiful game indeed.
By Mike Curle, who is desperate to try whatever face cream Neymar is currently flogging