Glory-Hunters, every successful club’s got them. They are the type of fans who only ‘supports’ a team when they’re winning and as soon as someone else wins a major trophy have changed their allegiances quicker than the odds for next season are announced.
Every successful club has them and it would be foolish of me to suggest that all of these fans are simply there whilst the ride is ‘enjoyable’ so to speak. Of course at some ‘glory-hunters’ may turn out to be loyal fans, as quite often in sport people learn to follow a team/individual that has had success.
Just think about our brilliant supporters out in places like in Asia in the Far East, would those fans be supporting us if we had not had been a successful club.
That’s not a knock on them – as you can see in the pictures and news stories going on at the moment in the club’s Asia Trophy Tour – that our fans out there are very passionate about the club.
It’s just a fact that had we been a club for example struggling in mid-table over the last 15-20 years then logic would suggest that those fans turning out to see us parade the Premier League trophy that we won in May, would not be anywhere near the number that they are today but for our success over that time.
Having lived in London all my life, I was often labelled a glory-hunter at school and for a number of years was asked the following questions over and over again:
Why are you not supporting a team from London?
Have you ever been to Manchester?
Do you know anything about United’s history?
Some of my friends over time understood that I was not a glory-hunter or a plastic fan and did truly care and support Manchester United with a passion.
Some of them didn’t accept my answers in why I supported United and would repeatedly ask me over and over again whenever we would be speaking about football (which was often every day) which would get annoying to say the least.
The reason why I wanted to write about this subject in the first place, was because of the behaviour of a kid in my primary school year called Alan who defined what a ‘glory hunter’ was in every way possible.
Back in the 1995/96 season, United of course were involved in a great battle for the championship with Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle. At the start of that season we lost three of our most experienced players in Andrei Kanchelskis, Mark Hughes and Paul Ince in the off-season.
Eric Cantona of course was still serving his suspension for his ‘kung-fun’ kick directed at Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons and everyone in the media was seemingly writing us of winning the league, yet alone challenging for it.
Alan who had supported us up until that season (at least that’s what I can remember looking back at it now) switched his allegiances to Newcastle from almost the first week of the season. Everyone even our teacher (who was an Arsenal fan) was shocked and wanted to know why he was now supporting the ‘Toon Army.’
‘Because they’re a good team and will do better than Man United will this year, Newcastle have got Rob Lee, Les Ferdinand and David Ginola, United have nobody who Keegan would want and it’s the end for Ferguson at United’ was the typical ‘gobby’ response we got from him as to why he was now a Newcastle fan.
It was a momentous season of course which saw Newcastle surrender a 12 point lead at the top of the table to United – who inspired by Cantona and the youngsters Alan Hansen wrote of at the start of the season – went on to win the League title and FA Cup for an historic double.
Alan – who happened to the year’s trouble-maker – was often a big-talking point in our class throughout the season. Particularly towards the end of the season when United took the lead of the championship, he would often still say he had faith in Newcastle winning something.
Countless times we’d point out to him that he was not being ‘true’ to Newcastle in the fact that he would often still have wear a United watch to classes as well as still bringing his United lunchbox (which had a brilliant picture of Cantona on the front) to school.
By the end of the season, comically Alan had switched his allegiances (not that they were worth anything) back to United saying that ‘United are the one and only team for me.’
That’s not the end of the story though. Of course the following season we lost 5-0 at St James’ Park in a game that saw Ginola, Ferdinand and Alan Shearer completely outmuscle us as we succumbed to our worst defeat in the Premier League at that time.
The very next day at school Alan showed up and you’ve guessed it, he was dressed from head to toe in all things Newcastle United and was back to supporting the Geordies. He still had the lunchbox that had Cantona on the front of it, but now had put Panini stickers of Newcastle players all over it to ‘show’ that he was now a Newcastle fan for good.
Of course Newcastle alike they did the previous season lost form and a disastrous spell in the winter saw Keegan leave the team. United of course inspired by David Beckham and new signing Ole Gunnar Solksjaer kicked on in the New Year and won the league with a game to spare.
Alan as you’ve guessed it was back to being supporting us and after the season ended was back to wearing his United colours at school. He later left the school to move to Southampton at the end of that school year to do with his dad’s work and we never heard of him again.
I can only dread to think and wonder who he ‘supports’ these-days.
By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87