Your first time at a football match will demonstrate whether or not you can truly pass as a football fan. You’ll need to arm yourself with everything you’ve learned about football (and, of course, one of the best football books around), look the part, and sound as though you know what you’re talking about.
Your first time at a football match will be the ultimate test. Here’s everything you’ll need to know to pass.
4 ‘skills’ to watch out for…
- Play-acting Players routinely pretend that they have been fouled in order to win free kicks and get their opponents booked. The standards of acting used to achieve this are at times so excellent that theatrical agents have been known to attend some Premier League matches looking for talent.
- Acrobatics A favourite is the ‘stepladder’, where a player stands behind an opponent, lifting himself up on his shoulders to head the ball first.
- Observation The skill of estimating when a ball is at the top of its flight after a long clearance from the goalkeeper. This enables the player to elbow his marker out of the way while attention is diverted.
- Beating your opponent The skill that sometimes means getting away from him while retaining control of the ball. Often, however, it has a more literal meaning.
What should I wear to my first time at a football match?
Excessive smartness is the only thing to avoid. Jeans and casual clothing are perfectly acceptable. Many fans wear replica shirts, either in the team’s current home strip or their away strip. To gain credibility, a much more cunning ruse is to wear a shirt from years, if not decades, ago. This implies a lifelong commitment to the club. But take care to buy one a size too small for you, so giving the impression that it has shrunk from years of washing.
What time should I arrive to watch the match?
Never get there too early. The skilled bluffer will delay arriving at his seat until about three minutes before kickoff. You may think this strange, in that soaking up the atmosphere is presumably a crucial part of any match-day experience. But soaking up beer is a far more crucial part of the match-day experience for regular fans.
How should I behave during the game?
Take your cues from your fellow fans. Cheer, jeer, laugh, applaud, etc., when they do. Don’t worry if you can’t work out why a referee has given a particular decision. Very often he won’t know either. Just make the same noises as the people around you. If your team scores, go into raptures of joy. If the opposition scores, look stunned and disbelieving.
Should I join in with chanting?
Of course. You needn’t feel self-conscious about every other word you utter being an obscenity. Normal rules do not apply inside football grounds. You will pick up most of your team’s chants as you go along. As well as joining in with chants during the match, you’re advised to have a few favourite chants from the past ready for when talk in the pub turns to this subject.
What about football players’ nicknames?
Every football club has at least one nickname, and by using some of these you’ll demonstrate your familiarity with the sport. It is always a good idea therefore to find out in advance the nickname of the opposing team, so that you can say knowledgeably, for example: ‘That’s the problem with the “Nobblers”. No finesse, and too much reliance on kicking opposition players out of the game.’
Maximum bluffing value
Under no circumstances should you take photos at a match. This will instantly mark you out as a football arriviste of the worst kind.