In our Friday Special Feature we have another piece from the stands. Dr TB gives his well articulated thoughts on whether it is ever acceptable to cheer on anyone but your own team.
There’s nothing that grinds my gears more than seeing one of our own singing the songs of another team or wearing their colours.
Some people “adopt” a team for the playoffs to justify it.
There is exactly two reason why you wear another team’s colours:
1. You’ve lost a bet and you have a bit of honour.
2. You’re raising money for charity and people will donate money to see you in emotional turmoil.
Adopted team? Not an excuse.
Drunk? Not an excuse.
“I like to see them do well”? Not an excuse.
In fact, that last reason – I don’t want to see other teams do well. I want them to lose. If I had my way every other team’s games would be really hard fought and end with 50 rounds of penalty shots, but, that’s just me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s teams in the league that annoy me more than others, but it’s basically a ranking where it’s “who I dislike the least”. I don’t like your team and I don’t support your team.
Even when it’s an EIHL team playing in another competition (for example, Devils in CHL), I shouldn’t have to justify myself for why I don’t want them to do well. I’d be mortified if other team’s fans started “supporting” us in the Conti Cup or adopted us for the playoffs. We neither need nor want your support and, I dare say, the fans of most of the other teams are the same. If the Giants aren’t in the final and I am asked, my response is generally “I hope both teams lose”. An obvious impossibility, but, well, Teal or Dead, to be honest.
One of the most ridiculously demoralising things I heard of from last year was fans of other teams getting behind the Caps in their own barn. Slag a team by all means, but don’t start cheering them on, it’s incredibly patronising. Caps fans have to deal with enough nonsense without other people faux-supporting their team into the bargain.
We like to think that UK ice hockey has a welcoming atmospheres and good natured fans makes it more appealing for a lot of people and that’s true, there’s a lot of really good people involved with hockey but, like so many of our brothers and sisters in the rest of Europe, I grew up in the “football traditions” where supporting your team sometime means making an intimidating atmosphere for the away team.
Ajax have one too few showers in the away dressing room, Chelsea have low seats and high clothes hooks, Benfica have pictures of irate home fans on the walls.. I think these are extreme methods, but psychological warfare in sports is not unheard of.
How many fans from other teams make the away trip to Belfast? It’s big numbers for double headers and it’s definitely a lot of people coming back. Belfast is a very welcoming place for fans and we look after teams. Fans who come over here will ALWAYS be made welcome.
Their team shouldn’t be.
From the moment they are on the ice, to the moment they leave it, they should be intimidated and Belfast should be a place that teams dread coming to. No team should ever feel comfortable in our arena and no team should come on to the ice confident. However, demographics of fan base will always be against you, especially for hockey teams in the UK. You attract families, kids, people looking for a good night out. Sometimes, it lacks the edge that other teams across Europe experience with massive fan displays with pyro and flags in standing only areas. It’s not really a thing that happens in the “family friendly” atmosphere of UK ice hockey.
I’m not saying we, necessarily, need to take it to those extremes, but you can certainly tell the difference in atmosphere between a Challenge Cup game in September against Dundee and a DH against Sheffield near the end of a season in a very close league. It has a spark to it, it’s intense, it’s what sport is about.
What I am saying is that we shouldn’t be afraid to make teams unwelcome – the “it’s all your fault” chants towards Brian Stewart shouldn’t be where getting on a team’s back begins and ends. It could be booing an ex-player every time they touch the puck, it could be sarcastic cheers when they make a mistake and it can be being loud and getting behind your team for the full duration of the game..
None of that has to anything to do with supporting your team, you can sit and just enjoy the action and you are still supporting your team, but how can we make teams hate coming here? We get into them from the word go and we don’t let up. Win or lose.
This league has some incredibly passionate fans and that’s the important thing, teams have their fans, they don’t need people latching on and they don’t need to be adopted because your team didn’t do well. If you support a team, then you don’t latch on to the other teams. You either support a team or you don’t.
I obviously can’t tell people what to do,you make your own choices, but as fans of our team, as followers of our team, as supporters of our team, we can make those trips in to the SSE that little bit more uncomfortable as long as it’s in the name of sport.
Get loud, Belfast, and stay loud. We’ve a long season ahead and, if nothing else, we all support the same team and all have the same end goal – win everything.