Defending ‘glory’ supporters

In football fandom there are few worse things to be levelled at you than to be labelled a ‘glory’ supporter. But should that really be the case?

Such is the tribalism in the game, fans who seemingly seek glory are often vilified. In England the expectation is that you follow your local team through thick and thin. In reality it shouldn’t be anger felt towards these fans, it should be pity in some ways.

Take Huddersfield Town, for example, many football fans in Huddersfield may have missed out on the chance to get truly caught up in perhaps the greatest moment in the club’s history due to their ‘glory’ supporting of other teams.

Aside from supporting your local side, there are many other reasons to support a football team. One major reason is family support behind a team. These fans would often be called ‘glory’ supporters but that observation is doing them a disservice. For a five-year-old fan is it really fair to level the ‘glory’ supporter tag at them? And by the time these fans grow up, supporting this team is engraved deep in their personality. Arguably some are more committed to their team than those who follow their local side. As journalist, Sam Rowe wrote in a 2014 article.

“I’d go so far as to wager that the folk squeezing themselves on to 5am trains from London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street or Manchester Piccadilly each weekend are every bit as committed than scores of “local fans” who walk two streets to the stadium, if not more so,”

Sam Rowe

A true ‘glory’ supporter is a rare find in England. Away from the UK it is fair to say Premier League fans who seek glory and switch teams are much more common. But given their lack of obligation to get behind any side is it fair to be harsh to them? It can be viewed that they consume football in different way, there’s no doubt that they are fans of the Premier League. If they enjoy getting behind different teams, it is their choice. These fans grow the English game and continue to give the Premier League domination on a marketing level outside the UK.

Football is an entertainment industry therefore ‘glory’ supporting makes logical sense. Nobody would be criticised for changing their favourite band or movie. So changing their favourite football team can even make sense. A fan may follow a team because of a particular player or because the team plays a brand of football they enjoy watching. If that player moves or the style of the club becomes totally different then why should they stick with them?

It is admirable to see battle-hardened fans turning up week in and week out to get behind their sides. Travelling from Portsmouth to Carlisle to see their local town’s team on the pitch. For many financial and other matters put that level of support on hold. For some ‘glory’ supporting makes more sense. Being exposed to the big teams on a regular basis it is natural to follow at least one of them. Considering fans make a decision who they support when they are young it should be expected that a successful team will trap them.

There are much bigger things in football to level anger at. Trouble makers who only attend games for fights and racist fans for a start. Those who seemingly seek glory are often valid in their support or choose to consume football in different way to the expectation. If anything pity should be felt towards these fans, they are only ‘cheating’ themselves by not getting behind their local team.