English football fans are a special breed, being some of the only ones who not only go to see every home game their beloved team play but also most of the away games as well, even if that means travelling the length and breadth of Europe.
Such dedication is understandable when a team is on a hot winning streak, or in the throes of a relegation dog fight, but it’s harder to relate to when a team perennially lets their fanbase down, either with dour performances or shockingly bad results.
Here we pay homage to the fans up and down the UK who follow their teams come rain or shine, to earn the moniker of “UK’s Longest Suffering Fans”.
Spurs fans have always been forgiven for supporting their underperforming team, because at least their team have thrown caution to the wind in games, foregoing results in return for a style of football that is easy on the eye.
Then Mauricio Pochettino, who is now contending with life at PSG, came along and had everyone at the club believing that they could be something more, as Tottenham reached the Champions League final for the first time.
Unfortunately, their meek performance in that showcase game optimized the deep-rooted mindset at a club that is always happy to play the role of bridesmaid. They even ditched their free-flowing football for a while by hiring José Mourinho and his disciple Nuno Espírito Santo.
Playing style aside, it’s the club’s incapability or unwillingness to win anything that riles its fan base so much, with Daniel Levy apparently more interested in PowerPoint presentations and business buzz words than building a footballing legacy.
The last time they won the league was in 1961 and their only meaningful silverware this new millennia has been the 2008 League Cup.
That is just not good enough for a club of such size and stature, and means that Spurs supporters deserve to be ranked right up there alongside the best of England’s football superfans, who travel thousands of miles every season, knowing full well that it will all be for nothing except the love of the game and the pain that comes with it.
Perhaps their new stadium and the signing of Antonio Conte can bring a change in the club’s fortunes…
At least Tottenham fans have gotten used to watching some of the best teams in the world visit their North London home, but try being a side that for 70+ seasons has been rooted to the bottom of the English professional football pyramid.
Rochdale is hardly a sprawling metropolis and so its footy fans can hardly expect them to make a charge to the Premier League, but they would have dearly enjoyed a little more ambition from their club over the years, other than a stubborn resilience that has seen them cling to their EFL status despite only tending to draw 3,000 hardcore spectators to the Crown Oil Arena.
There are lots of fan groups in the news who like to portray themselves as downtrodden and mistreated, with some of them then jumping into bed with unsavoury investors who have little knowledge of football.
In reality, the loyal fans who most deserve sympathy and to have a light shone on their plight, are those poor souls who have had their team literally decimated to the point where they have been jettisoned from the Football League.
Such was the fate suffered by Bury F.C. – one of the oldest clubs in the country – which went under after struggling to find a new owner in time.
There are now signs that a fan-led consortium could be about to revive the club’s fortunes, but they will more than likely have to start all over again and climb up through the non-league system to get back to the EFL.
Their loyal fans will relish the fight!