Since Chelsea have had this season’s league title sewn up for quite some time now, we thought we’d find the prize nobody wants to win by asking the question everyone has thought about: of all of the teams in the Premier League, which fans are the worst?
After much hand-wringing, deliberating, and abacus-instruction-reading, what follows is the objectively correct ranking of every Premier League team in order of their fans’ awfulness, with the “winner” as it were, coming dead last.
1. Man City
The success should’ve gone to their heads by now but somehow they’ve managed to keep it all together. Sure, they do the Poznan but at least they did it first (well, in the Prem anyway), and, at this point, Liam Gallagher is an embarrassing gobshite, but come on, they’re allowed a little bit of fun. It wasn’t even that long ago when they were horrendous, losing to Oldham, Port Vale, and Barnsley in consecutive games over Christmas in 1996. I cannot begrudge the fans for their team’s Football Manager-with-cheats tactics, they watch it all with good humour and one of those lovely old shirts with Goater on their back. Honestly, I’m yet to meet a bad City fan. That might be luck or proof – who the hell even knows.
I remember there was a poll once where Southampton fans were voted the best, most tuneful singers in the league and that’s always stuck with me. I guess that plus their hated of Portsmouth – truly one of the worst teams of any sport of all time – has always seen them well in my book.
Great bunch of lads, the Jack Army, with their swans and their general sense of just being very happy to be there. Plus Dave in the office says that they were trying to help save Leyton Orient from administration, so the Patron Saint of Lost Causes gets some serious respect for that.
All Boro fans want to do is reminisce about how they used to have loads of Brazilians and then tell you about how long it takes them to get to pretty much any other stadium in the league, and I admire their purity.
5. Leicester City
They didn’t want Claudio to go even though he’d made them really, really crap and also, this one time I went to interview a bunch of their fans at a Crystal Palace game, and they let me get into the away end with them and one fella shared his cheesy chips with me. Top boys.
I’m happy that they’re happy that they’re in the league but they’ll be relegated next year and that will be the true test of their character.
I literally forgot Watford were in the Premier League until just now.
I have no major beef with Spurs – they have a nice, easy-to-get-to stadium and a team full of really good, likeable players – but one time my girlfriend said they have the nicest looking fans and I just can’t bring myself to add to their ego by having them any higher than this.
Like Liverpool but slightly nicer because they’re untainted by success.
10. Crystal Palace
The “Crystanbul” stuff makes my skin crawl and grown men from Croydon buying job-lots of Enola Gay smoke grenades off Amazon and calling themselves Ultras is really weird but it’s nice that they make an effort, I guess.
11. West Brom
The only West Brom fan I know is Adrian Chiles and he looks like a child actor all putty-ed up to look like an adult and talks like he went through the wrong door one day and accidentally became a television presenter. Some real Sliding Doors stuff. Anyway, fuck Adrian Chiles, the mostly harmless git. Oh, and Frank Skinner. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Well there was that time when Aaron Ramsey had his ankle cut off and all the Stoke lads cheered plus I’m sure I’ve seen one of their fans wearing a Charlie Adam shirt before so they’re lucky to make it this high.
They used to be into Stanley Knives and bulldogs and now they’re all nouveau riche and pretend none of that ever happened, like that aunt who goes to a fancy gym now and has abs as hard as her consonants and pretends she didn’t get kicked out of your mum’s wedding for scrapping.
I actually quite like Liverpool fans – some of my best friends are Liverpool fans!!! – but I’ve seen enough bad Liverpool fans from Brockley, on their own in a pub, shouting along to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and faking their way through Scouse-by-numbers rivalries and wearing bad jackets to have them any further up the list.
You know, they’re sort of like Newcastle without all the good bits – none of the nice kits, the brown ale, Tino Asprilla or beloved managers with silver hair and wet eyes – and I can’t help that feel that is reflected off the pitch: like the Geordies’ supermarket-own equivalent while the Magpies finish their tour of duty in the Second Division. I’d almost feel sorry for them if they weren’t so unbelievably bad.
The bottom three of this list are so secure that this was really just a race for 17th and boy have Hull earned it, just for all the chanting “You’re getting mauled by the Tigers!” while very slowly pawing at the air in front of them. Not even their steadfast refusal to boo Steve Bruce’s three-at-the-back-even-when-it’s-clearly-not-working tactics can take the edge off it.
18. West Ham
As a West Ham fan, I can only admit to defeat, slumped at my desk with a cup of tea and the faint ringing of “We won the World Cup! We won the World Cuuuup!” in my ears, carving “The West Ham Way is not a thing” onto my desk while watching yet more videos of our fans trying to tear their own stadium apart. One of these days they’re going to riot in Westfield Stratford and if they even DARE touch the Mr. Pretzel counter I am moving to strike the club and all record of it from the history books.
19. Man United
If I have to hear about The Treble one more time from a bloke with a “Hated, adored, never ignored” tattoo, I’m going to download SkyScanner, book two tickets for a flight to Puebla, Mexico – one for me and one for a giant bag of rocks – and rent a car to the Popocatépetl volcano – the second most dangerous volcano in the world; the first is Vesuvius but I’ve been to Italy and I’ve never been to Mexico – and then hire a Mexican sherpa to take me up and then tip him a 20 and then grab the bag of rocks and just throw myself into the fiery pit of hell. Honestly, expense be absolutely damned: it was good, yeah, but it was 18 years ago. Ooh, what about Sherringham! Ooh, Ole Gunnar! Shut up. Stop it. Just leave me alone. And Fergie was good, true, but don’t call him “gaffer” - you’re from Loughborough.
*kneads temples with fingers*
It’s... quite hard to narrow this down, to wade through the constant screaming and shouting on the in-fight battlefield, from “net spend” and red headphones on Arsenal Fan TV, grown men screaming and crying while 14-year-old boys egg them on, to rigging every Twitter poll ever, from the histrionic hashtags and extensive vlogging of games, reviewing them, fretting and combing over them, mocking other vloggers’ deconstructions with a destructive deconstruction of their deconstruction, to the domination of every conversation by people with Ramsey profile pictures, Ozil-pun screen names and bios laden with assist fetishisation and casual misogyny, boring everyone to tears as they flit between the Wenger Out brigade and the Wenger In battalion alongside the homemade signs and absolute, blinkered delusion. There’s a special kind of desperation for attention that feels singular to the Gooners and the whole thing is exhausting and I want it to end.
I often wonder why Arsenal fans are so terrible, and then realise it’s futile: maybe all football fans are bad and Arsenal are simply the purest manifestation of its ID, embracing each of its sins with two-footed gusto:
Lust – Have you ever read Alexis/Mesut/Flamini slash-fiction? I have. And it’s fucking weird.
Gluttony – No team needs that many attacking midfielders.
Greed – LET SOMEONE ELSE WIN THE GOAL OF THE SEASON VOTE, YOU MUGS.
Sloth – see: Wenger, Arsene.
Wrath – see: Wenger, Arsene.
Envy – Arsenal fans can’t seem to bring themselves to accept anyone else winning anything. (Won the league, did you? You bought that. FA Cup? We were robbed. League Cup? Mickey Mouse. Wouldn’t get out of bed for the bleedin’ Milk Cup, mate.)
Pride – “Remember a little team called The Invincibles? Remember when we went an entire (league) season unbeaten? And nobody could beat us (in the league)? We were so good, nobody even came close (in the league, only) and that definitely makes us the greatest team of all time (in the league, that season; the season we went unbeaten… in the league).”
All teams have sets of fans, but none are as loud, as mobilised, as cornea-scratchingly in-your-face as Arsenal – and forget the lack of tangible, sustained success, isn’t that the real prize? Optics. Visibility.
Arsenal: nobody has ever forgotten about Arsenal.
[All Photos: Rex Features]