From being too busy screaming at the referee to really get behind their team, to the lack of league winning traditions, here’s why AFL fans are not as good as English Premier League fans.
An Australian radio show recently pointed out on Twitter that AFL crowds have “slumped to their lowest levels in 26 years,” asking the question: “Why? Why aren’t people going to the footy?”
In the interests of rubbing salt into the wound, this author, who knows very little about the AFL, and is a keen follower of the EPL, would like to throw his thoughts into the mix. Here’s my very biased take on why I think AFL fans are not as good as EPL fans.
Because it is full of marshmallow rules!
— Portuguese Irish Australian Woman 💜🤍💚🦖 (@stamford02) May 24, 2022
EPL Fans Really Know How To Get Behind Their Team
In the EPL, whole stadiums sing. It’s a regular occurrence. Like church (if churches let you get drunk). It’s also not uncommon for entire stadiums of people to know the words to quite moving chants. Though AFL fans know how to make a lot of noise and can also produce a magical atmosphere too, there seem to be fewer unifying traditions (and more individuals screaming individual abuse at the ref or players rather than getting behind their team with something positive).
EPL Fans Have More Traditions
Even though this year’s mass invasion of the pitch when Manchester City won the league went wrong (a crossbar was broken and the opposition keeper Robin Olsen was allegedly assaulted), the passion of English Premier League fans really is beautiful. Even though some stuffy souls (see, the below letter sent in to The Guardian) reckon it’s a bad example to set, even going as far as to suggest players need to show more restraint in their celebrations lest they set a bad example for the fans, we’d say it’s something – bar things like assaulting the opposition’s keeper, obviously – to admire.
“For several seasons we have witnessed players indulging in a series of histrionic acts when their team has worst scored a goal: sliding on their knee across the pitch, kicking corner flags and – of all – jumping over barriers to embrace their exulting fans. Equally deplorable are the responses of coaching staff and subs who encroach the pitch to join in this triumphalism. If fans resort to irresponsible and violent behaviour, they are doing little more than following the lead provided by their idols.” (Graham Downie, writing to The Guardian).
Football Stadiums Let Even The Most Emotionally Stunted Men Feel Part Of Something Beautiful
Though English football hooligans are a shining beacon of assholery (and though, obviously, going around kicking people’s heads in is not an acceptable way to express your emotions), the other 99.9% of male football fans are actually tapping into something Tim Winton summed up nicely in the novel breath.
Talking about surfing in Western Australia (just bear with me here), Winton wrote: “How strange it was to see men do something beautiful. Something pointless and elegant, as though nobody saw or cared.”
Singing and chanting together at a football game is a great way for men, who might be repressed in other areas of their life, to engage in something pointless and beautiful.
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English Premier League Fans Jeer At The Referee… With A Sense Of Humour
Rather than just) yelling and screaming at the referee over fans perceived abuses (EPL love to do that too), EPL fans often jeer at the referee with a sense of humour. They even get to know them, in some cases, better than the players themselves…
English Premier League Fans Know How To Frustrate The Other Team
They don’t call it a home ground advantage for nothing. English Premier League Fans are a key part of their side’s ‘game management (aka ‘champagne football’). This can involve celebrating their team’s possession of the ball (yelling “ole” after each successful pass), ironically celebrating the other team’s possession of the ball (when they haven’t had it for much of the game) and much more.
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English Premier League Fans Are More Creative With Their Sledging
EPL fans just do it better. Sorry. Don’t believe me? Check out this list.
English Premier League Fans Travel To Support Their Team
This isn’t unique to the English Premier League, but English Premier League fans lead the way when it comes to this ultimate act of passion and loyalty – even if it sometimes means waking up at some ungodly hour for a flight, or getting on a coach full of your hungover, frustrated compatriots without having slept.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this (I’ll admit) very biased, possibly somewhat ill-informed (something I’m missing about the AFL? Let us know on social media) article, and I look forward to hearing what you think too !