(these folks were into John Maine way before you were)

“Fandom is not a competition, however much the fan snobs would like it to be,” argues the Guardian’s Benjie Goodhart, outraged at having been chewed out for lacking proper decorum at a Twenty20 cricket match. To put it in perspective, that’s analogous to being yelled at for starting the wave at an Arena Football game. Goodhart, late of Benjie’s Blog, has had his fill of the sporting equivalent of the “I’m into bands that don’t even exist yet” t-shirt, protesting “sport is not some glorified Star Trek convention, where we all have to address each other in Klingon and compete to see who knows more about the Enterprise’s reactor core.” Though if cultural elitism were entirely eradicated, who’d be left to buy the Guardian?

You all know the type. Hell, some of you probably are the type. “I’ve not missed a City game in 10 years, home or away”; “Call yourself a fan? I’ve been going for 25 years. I even took my wife to the Czech Republic on honeymoon so we could watch the Intertoto Cup game against Banik Ostrava”; “Pah! I went and saw the reserves tour Guatemala, despite having been decapitated a week earlier”; (continue ad nauseam until the sweet release of death).

In short, status comes in the form of ticket stubs. You’re not a real fan unless you have truly suffered for the cause. Having attended a 1-0 defeat to Rotherham on a Tuesday night is seen as a badge of honour, rather than a bloody great waste of time and money. The worse the game, the higher the kudos.

This, surely, has to be a little perverse. Spectator sport is about entertainment. Yet in no other branch of the entertainment industry is there pride attached to watching effluent. You don’t have people boasting: “I went to see Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo, travelled for ages to get there, and it was crap! Rubbish popcorn, too.”

Only in football would you get the ridiculous chant: “Where were you when you were shit?” The sensible answer to which is: “At home, watching telly with a cuppa and the fire on.” Why should you be expected to shell out the inflated sums that we all do to watch unmitigated dross week-in, week-out?

You’re not accused of disloyalty if you don’t go and see Godfather III just because you loved the first two. You laughed during Police Academy when you were 13? You must therefore watch Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, or you’re just a part-time fan.