Tom Head’s Nottingham Forest blog: A Look at the emerging ‘we do what we want’ culture in the stands.

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MOST people’s favourite part of the international break is when it is over...

For me, watching England outside of a tournament situation provides a bit of light relief, amidst yet another nail-biting season poised to go down to the wire for Forest.

Though some England fans expect the world from Hodgson’s side, and are often left disappointed due to their arrogance in assuming that ‘we are England, hence we must win every game’, I find it intriguing to see how our new look squad are beginning to develop.

However, the San Marino game did make me wonder if Comic Relief had dragged on for a week or so...

The Montenegro fans certainly were a fervent bunch, and it got me thinking about some of the fans in this country: I find it astounding when certain supporters try and argue that they are the best.

The best at what? Following your club? To quantify which team has the superior fans is an impossible task...

An example of this is to consider away followings; At their last away game, Leeds sold 3,000 tickets for the trip to Crystal Palace...

Accrington Stanley brought 28 to Gillingham. Of course, the size of the clubs differs immensely. I mean, Accrington Stanley, who are they?

Exactly... But are those 28 Stanley fans any less loyal than the travelling Leeds contingent?

Of course they aren’t. This is why the frankly juvenile concept of having the best fans is flawed. In theory, those 28 Accrington fans demonstrate more loyalty and commitment to their club than most of the 20,000 Leeds fans that, instead turning up to Elland Road on a Saturday, stay away and as a result, the ground is only half-full (or half-empty, if you’re more of a pessimist).

I know, it is such an easy road to take - to stick the boot into the team we all love to hate - but I just feel that they are on of the more obvious examples of a growing ‘we do what we want’ culture that is threatening to become a significant part of going to watch games.

If there was a hypothetical ‘Leeds v Accrington’ debate, at least the League Two side could nestle on the moral high ground.

Accrington Stanley fans don’t advocate the actions of Jimmy Savile with their chants.

Far be it from me to be seen as any sort of moral arbiter. Good heavens, if your moral compass is pointing in my direction, you are in a pickle.

I have unpaid library fines and everything, you shouldn’t even be taking advice from an egg as rotten as me - but I do wonder,

do some of the things you hear in the stands have a place in the 21st Century?

I could look into dozens of psychological studies that allude to a ‘facelessness in the crowd’ conclusion: When we are hard to identify, we become bolder in the things we do and say - anonymity becomes a cloak, to hide from the realms of acceptability. However, as this is football we are talking about, I’ll keep it simple - you’re likely to join in, if other people are doing it.

These attitudes came to a head in October, in the now infamous Leeds v Sheffield Wednesday game. Neither set of supporters covered

themselves in glory - a shame considering what superb followings they both have (but not the best... remember that) - as chants about paedophilia were exchanged, by a number of fans larger than just a

minority.

However, all clubs have their idiots that let them down: Recently, Burnley fans destroyed the toilets inside Blackburn’s Ewood

Park. Newcastle fans acted like animals, disrupting Sunday league games across Wigan with their lurid behaviour. Certain Millwall fans were caught on video spouting vile racist abuse - all subscribe to the brainless ‘do what we want’ notion.

Of course, there was also that moron who attacked Chris Kirkland. But he has nothing to do with the sport; Aaron Cawley is nothing like a football fan.

It highlighted to me just how dangerous it is for fans to have their identity based entirely on the club they support. It’s easy enough to lose yourself in such an atmospheric surrounding - I myself have abused officials, opposition players, and whatever you can class Marlon King as, whilst watching from the stands. Obviously, regardless of your ambivalence to someone, you wouldn’t do this in a situation outside of a football ground.

Yet we must be aware of certain boundaries. Yelling something in the heat of the moment - within reason - is nowhere near as deplorable as open discrimination.

Interestingly enough, ahead of this weekend, Brighton fans have been the subject of homophobic chants for a verylong time.

Discrimination is a lot like fan culture, but not synonymous with it. You can’t quantify it on a scale. Homophobia, racism, and misogyny are equally deplorable. There are some songs directed towards Brighton that are more tongue-in-cheek than outright offensive. However, any direct pejorative terms are simply off limits.

One more thing... Could football, as a whole, do us a massive favour and cease with the ‘we do what we want’ chant? It’s four inane lines, that are instantly nullified when you are told by the stewards to sit down.

No news is good for Forest at the moment, which is why I thought I’d take the opportunity to write about something a bit different to my usual content. I had planned to do a very similar piece to this after we beat Leeds 4-2 in December. I had to change tact though, when the Christmas sherry went to Fawaz’s head and he sacked Sean O’Driscoll.

Fawaz Al-Hasawi, he does what he wants...