Regular readers of HLTCO will know that I’m not often quick to offer praise to Manchester United or their supporters but yesterday evening, I stumbled across this piece written by Andy Mitten for GQ which I felt compelled to share with all of you.
Having traveled to Wembley to watch his side take on Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final over the weekend, Andy could easily have dedicated his column to the tactical wrestling match that took place between Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino but instead, he chose to shine a light on a group of Palace fans he met on the train away from the game, who reminded him that, away from the glitz and glamour of the country’s national stadium, thousands upon thousands of supporters are wrapped up in a deep-rooted love affair with their club that doesn’t revolve around trophies.
In the wrong hands, the angle Mitten has chosen to tackle could come across as patronising but it is to his credit that he has managed to turn something as mundane as a post-match train journey into a coherent examination of fan culture in the UK. Admittedly, his chance meeting with them was nothing more than a snapshot of a day which saw the Eagles earn a precious if unremarkable point when drawing 0-0 with a faltering Watford side but in those few minutes, Andy was reminded that for all the changes Sky and BT Sport have made to the game on these shores, the sense of togetherness it inspires will never die.
I’m always mindful of the temptation to elevate our fan-base above others, to do so would be arrogant and insensitive to the hundreds of others that we exist alongside but thanks to Andy Mitten, we’ve been given an impartial perspective on what makes Crystal Palace FC and English fan culture so wonderful to be a part of.
Once it gets under your skin, it’s impossible not to fall in love.