What is a fan? The determinedly non-sporting types amongst us would probably say it something to keep you cool.…either hand-held or mechanical. To those reading the Lincoln City section of this excellent newspaper however a fan is of course a football supporter, and it’s quite interesting to look into what being a fan is all about.
I’ve just finished reading a really good book called ‘Shots in the Dark’. The writer has compiled a diary about supporting Aldershot Town over a season and the quest to reach the National League play-offs. Surely ‘Calling the Shots’ would have been a better title but what do I know. The author is a hugely accomplished writer having also written numerous books on history, cricket, economics and politics.
In his postscript as the book closes he reflects the reasons for being a fan. For all his many achievements away from football he says it’s the one thing that gives him a sense of self. It gives him a distinctive identity he says. What a wonderful testament to the power of being a football supporter.
When there’s a lot of footy on the television like now the ‘why do we need to see twenty-two blokes kicking a bag of wind about every night’ comments start flying about by those who favour other programme genres. They don’t get it of course, but us fans do.
Being a football supporter is much more than the match itself. It’s meeting friends at your home ground or on some far-flung away terrace every Saturday. It’s the magical moment when an infant son or daughter goes with you for the first time and you see them get the bug, like you did decades ago. And it can be if you extend your involvement into getting on board with some football-based campaign to help your club, or a charity, or anything or anyone deserving of support, and the sense of pride if you achieve your aim. Football at international level right down to local leagues is an addictive soap opera. And the benefits of football fandom are endless.
Supporters Trusts recognise this. Adding to the value of being a football supporter is the golden thread running through everything they do. There’s seventy-three trusts at ninety-two of the clubs in the Premier League and Football League and loads more throughout the pyramid. The togetherness of being a fan of a club can be enhanced by what Trusts, especially well-organised and active ones, do.
I know I’m biased but I’d say our club is one of the best at fan engagement. Away from my bias national surveys confirm in fact that that is the case. I think the Red Imps Community Trust plays a part in that with all the things we do.
Being a fan is great in itself but being a fan that has a close connection with the club you follow is even better, and that’s what we’ll all keep working on.