How To Be a Canadian Premiership Fan

If you’re a soccer fan living in Canada, there’s a good chance you’ve been conditioned to believe that the Premiership represents the pinnacle of the world’s game. But if you’re not of British descent (and/or don’t have any ingrained affiliation to one club or another), you may feel a little left out when you see the supporter yobs with their life-and-death love of Chelsea or Liverpool or Everton or whoever. You feel like they’re able to enjoy the game on a level you’re physically incapable of reaching.

But this doesn’t have to be so. You, too, can be a “real” Premiership fan, even if your parents are from Trinidad and you live in Whitby. Did I put the word “real” in quotation marks because I, in fact, mean you’d actually just be a cheap gloryhunter? Yes, I did. No one can change that. But you can at least hide your fakeness behind a plausible veneer of manufactured authenticity. Here’s a handy guide on how to create that veneer!

#1. Pick a team. This may seem easy but, in fact, it’s not. The team you choose not only determines who you’ll cheer on the pitch, but it has a significant impact on how much work you’ll need to do to build your veneer — the more historically successful the team, the more work you’ll need to do. Plus, your choice of squad affects how you’re perceived by other British soccer fans (both real and fake) — for instance, United fans are arrogant pricks, Wigan fans are weirdos, and Millwall fans are criminally insane.

#2. Pick a reason. Since we’ve established your family’s not actually from the city that your team plays in (and, under pressure, you probably couldn’t even locate it on a map), you need to figure out why you support this team. Simply throwing on a Carlsberg kit will not gain you instant credibility with the thick-necked Liverpudlians lurking around the Duke of Gloucester. In fact, it will probably earn you some distrust. “Who’s this lad?” they’ll wonder. “Why haven’t we seen him before?”

This is why picking one of the “big four” teams is fraught with peril. Not only are you statistically more likely to run into someone who will question your supporter credentials, but you’ll need a much more complex backstory to explain why you’re to be taken seriously as an Arsenal fan (and that you’re not just some Canadian wanker latching onto the bandwagon of a big club who makes the Champions League year over year… even though this is, in fact, what you are). You’ll need to be constantly on guard because many of the other supporters you’ll encounter are actually also veneered Canadian wankers, who will actively question your credibility in order to deflect the heat off of themselves.

Your workload could be significantly decreased if your team of choice usually finishes in the middle or near the bottom of the table (or, if you just pick a squad that looks poised for promotion from the CCC). When there’s no realistic pressure of either promotion or relegation, supporters tend to care less whether or not their fellow fans are legitimate or just fickle Canadian suburbanites.

#3. Pick a backstory. This goes hand-in-hand with picking a reason. Whereas someone whose parents are from Manchester needn’t really go any further than “I support City because that’s where me folks grew up”, we colonized folk need to be more creative to be convincing. As mentioned before, the complexity of your backstory is directly proportional to historic success of the club in question.

“Iain Hume, a Canadian, plays for Barnsley” is good enough if you’re going to ride the Barnsley train up to the Premiership. If it’s Wanderers, maybe something along the lines of “I spent two weeks in the U.K. while in high school and I lost my virginity while in Bolton”. If you’re going to go all-in and throw your hat in the United ring, you’ll need an apologetic “Look, I know I’m not British…” followed by an assertive “my father died in a plane crash when I was a teenager and at the funeral, I got to speaking with a distant cousin of mine who I didn’t know too well but who was a lifelong United fan. He told me about Munich in 1958 and that gave me the strength to carry on during that difficult time.”

Whatever backstory you come up with, remember that it must be plausible, believable and impossible to refute. If it actually bears a passing resemblance to the truth, all the better.

#4. Hours and hours on the Internet. Do your research. This is key. Has your team ever won the Premiership? If so, when was the last time? If not, what was their best-ever finish? Who were their leaders in that season? Their manager? Their top goal-scorer? Their keeper? Is the team famous for its adherence to a particular system or style of play? Who owns the team? Who previously owned the team? What is the seating capacity of their home stadium? Where is it located? If you had to pick your team’s all-time starting eleven, who would they be? (And who were the one or two players who just missed the cut?) What year was the team founded? Who scored your all-time favourite goal for the team? (And who came a close second?) Who are the team’s historic heroes and villains? What are their most memorable all-time games?

“Real” supporters naturally build this knowledge over years and years of watching the team play and discussing the squad with other fans. But if you’re going to be taken seriously, you need to not only artificially cram as much of this knowledge into your head as possible, but be able to recite it smoothly and effortlessly. That means pausing at key points as if you’re wracking your brain, but always producing a good answer (which, if you’re really sophisticated, could include a “wrong” answer or two, given either to test the other party or to spark debate).

#5. Merchandise! Jersey, scarf, yeah, standard. But is there some other special trinket that is prized by your club? This is something you should have learned while doing your research as part of #4. If you really want to hammer the point home, you could buy one of the various pieces of child-themed official club merchandise now available (say, a teddy bear wearing a team kit) and claim it was given to you by a relative because, even as a kid, they knew where your loyalties were. Just make sure that this bit of bullshittery doesn’t conflict with the backstory you’ve crafted in #3 — that would be a fatal blow, and you’d have to start from scratch with an entirely new squad.

#6. Regularly watch the team play, follow its progress and become emotionally invested in its results. This step is optional.

#7. Act smug around people who don’t have a club affiliation. Once you’ve created a veneer thick enough to be impenetrable by questions or skepticism, it’s time to go on the offensive. Because, really, the best part of living in Canada and swearing your allegiance to a British soccer team is your ability to lord it over those who aren’t refined enough to be in the same boat. Be sure to tell people that the Canadian national team is worthless, MLS is shite and that the players in all other European leagues all wish they could have the privilege of playing in England (even if it was as a sub for Scunthorpe United).

If you follow this guide, you’re guaranteed to have a bulletproof — albeit entirely false — Premiership-based alter ego, allowing you entry into the prized world of legitimate British soccer fandom. You’ll feel a visceral connection — albeit a manufactured one — to the fortunes of a soccer club on the other side of an ocean and, if you’re lucky, you’ll become friends with a wide variety of like-minded individuals (which will be especially rewarding, since the best relationships are usually based on lies).

I mean, consider the alternative — being a neutral? What do you get from that? The ability to enjoy the ebb and flow of a top-flight soccer game without being overcome with rage? The freedom to discuss the league as a whole without being dragged into petty name-calling and accusation-making? The knowledge that you’re more of a fan of soccer than you are of being seen and known as a soccer fan? The hundreds of dollars that’ll remain in your pocket and not be frittered away on some questionable website in exchange for obscure club-themed merchandise?

Who wants any of that?


15 Responses to “How To Be a Canadian Premiership Fan”

  1. Hilarious article, and incredibly accurate… well except the part about all Man. United supporters being arrogant pricks 😛

  2. Ha ha, thanks Sam… but I stand by my statements about United fans until I’m proven wrong!

  3. […] Are you new to this whole Premier League thing? Well then, follow this handy guide of How To Be a Canadian Premiership Fan. Solid […]

  4. Whilst I am an arrogant prick, it has nothing to do with my being a United supporter.
    However, the reason behind my support for United, besides my being a wanker, is actually fairly simple (hence, I quite enjoyed the “invent a backstory” section): I was watching what was then a “meaningless” match on the television, when all of a sudden some nutter goes into the stands with a flying kung fu kick. Immediately, I thought “If that guy is prepared to go into the stands, that’s the team for me”. Of course, the match was played at Selhurst Park, and the player in question was Eric Cantona. Easy as pie, I had a premiership team to follow and support. At the time, I didn’t even appreciate how well United had been in the preceding several years, nor did I have any knowledge of Sir Matt or any other history of the club. So it was quite a nice surprise to realise how popular and accessible United was for a North American fan, as it was to begin to follow a team that just a few short years later would accomplish something truly incredible on that famous night in Barcelona.

  5. best post of 2009!

  6. […] How To Be a Canadian Premiership Fan […]

  7. I go away for a week and I miss this gold!

  8. Joseph B. Says:

    OMFG – This is awesome….

    Unbeknown to me, I actually went through most of this waaay back during the 1994-1995 season, when a certain United team lost the premiership on the last day to Blackburn… Followings season started following United, and been nuts ever since…

    Yes, nuts!!! Arrogant prick? Ummm, no….

  9. […] be a Canadian Premiership fan, the unfunny version) If you’ve read my tongue-in-cheek guide to being a Canadian Premiership fan, you may recall that it makes the case — in a very ironic fashion, mind you — for the […]

  10. […] setback, we’ve decided to fast-forward the experiment a bit, jumping ahead into teaching Emma how to be a Canadian Premiership fan. As our handy guide suggests, the first step is to arbitrarily choose a team to support (then worry […]

  11. […] that’s good enough for us. And it means that we’re now through the first four steps of how to be a Canadian Premiership fan: picking a team (Fulham), picking a reason (being an experiment subject), picking a backstory […]

  12. I have to say, you should add a side note to Step 5: If you can convince family members that you are deeply vested in the club, especially around your birthday or Christmas, on occasion you might be able to save yourself the $109.99 for the [insert club here] home shirt as a member of your extended family might get it for you.

    I would certainly suggest this to Emma. If you guys are decent, the three of you should split for a Fulham “elegant” home shirt to help her on her quest.

  13. Fortunately for us, we’re not all that decent.

  14. […] little piece called How to be a Eurosnob soccer fan (not to be confused with my genre-defining How to be a Canadian Premiership fan) hits many of the familiar notes: a Eurosnob is, essentially, a self-obsessed dick who insists on […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: