The psyche of an English football fan

The psyche of an English football fan

By TomTom – Your SatNav around Football


I just can’t help believing!

It is a condition of the English football fan that even when logic, reason and all good sense stands against our national football team there is a flicker of hope and expectation lying somewhere inside all of us. It is an endearing yet unfortunate flaw which leads to either great tragedy or, in some ways more frustratingly, tampered joy. This may seem depressing but it is the truth and I will tell you why.

In the run up to this current tournament (Euro 2012) it was a commonly accepted notion there was a lot less expectation on England than there has been for a generation.  We had no manager less than two months before the tournament commenced and then the people’s choice for the role was subsequently overlooked. Our star man and latest footballing ‘messiah’ was suspended for the first two games and this was all before Rio’s controversial exclusion from the squad. To put it simply, England were write offs. Yet this ‘zero’ expectancy led to some inverted logic which is enigmatic of the natural state of an English football fan, a state of senseless belief. Fans and pundits alike were equally responsible. The notion was along the lines of ‘maybe because we are so rubbish we will actually do well’ or ‘maybe as there is no expectancy we will perform’. In other words there was still expectancy and in turn belief. We just can’t help ourselves.

Now, aside from this being a bizarre mental flaw in millions of our population, it is actually a relatively charming characteristic of football fandom. What is more distressing is that when we do win it is not a feeling of unbridled ecstasy, as would be expected should a team so greatly over perform. The reason for this is that we have hoped all along, and more importantly we have believed all along and so when we do win there is a small part of us which thinks, ‘I kind of expected that to happen’.

When the final whistle blew last night at the Donbass arena, I challenge anyone to honestly say they didn’t expect us to come through the match against Ukraine and progress into the quarter-finals. Joy swiftly turned into relief that our expectation hadn’t been misplaced again. What was more surprising was the French capitulation against Sweden. We have now avoided Spain and face what is in theory a more winnable fixture against Italy. In a cruel twist of fate, for all of the England camp’s best efforts to dampen expectation, and for once the media have cooperated, the flicker of hope has now turned into a full on flame.

I don’t think Elvis was talking about the chances of Engand’s national football team in major international tournaments when he sang “I Just can’t help believing”, but he rather aptly sums up the undying sense of belief and expectation that surrounds the defenders of our national sport.

But there’s no way we could win this thing is there? We’re rubbish.

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About TomTom
“Having studied English at university and always been a keen footballer and fan, combining the two has always appealed to me.” - Tom Lytton-Dickie. -"I'm a recently qualified journalist and I've worked in newspapers and broadcasting. I'm a dedicated follower of all sports primarily football, tennis and cricket." Tom Allnutt

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