Terrace Bint gets as close as it’s getting to that telly thing with the four tarts in New York and delves into the weird and (sometimes) wonderful world of copping off at the football.
The whole existence of this fanzine is based on one crucial fact. Well its based on a number of facts; most crucially the fact that I am currently unemployed and have a lot of time on my hands that allows me sit around writing crap like this; but most importantly it’s based on the empirically observed phenomenon that more men attend football matches than women. Many many more men than women. Which usually benefits men. Football has long been geared towards them, as we well know, hence the whinging in most parts of this fanzine. But there is one area where sometimes the gender ratios work in our favour…
For the uninitiated, football doesn’t seem to be an ideal place for romance to flourish. The typical image they believe represents an average match crowd is a stereotype rooted in truth; loads of beered up blokes packed into a small space, sweating, swearing and dodgy- burger farting their way through ninety minutes, with an undercurrent of hatred and violence bubbling away underneath; not the most romantic of atmospheres, they think, unless your taste in men lies at a halfway point between James Nesbitt and Rab C Nesbitt.
And, to be fair, they’re sort of right. True, there are a disproportionate amount of extreme mingers amongst football crowds. (MALE mingers, no snidey comments about the state of our own mushes for now please.) The vast majority of the men at most football matches I wouldn’t in normal circumstances want to sit next to on a bus for 90 seconds, let alone somewhere I’ve paid £30 quid to be for a full 90 minutes. But, luckily, there are a few diamonds in the rough. And, as there is a LOT of rough, some of the diamonds you do get are of the high carat, finely cut, extra smooth and sparkling variety. You alsostumble across a fair few of the Diamond White variety but we’ll metaphorically leave them soaked in their own piss by the can-strewn wayside.
A lot of women, myself included, at a certain point in the football supporting life, make the troublesome transition from cute, scarf waving little girl, hand in hand with Dad, giggling at the rude words in the songs, to horny, player-fancying teenager, hand in hand with a set of newly raging hormones, sniggering at all the rude things they’d like to do to that new young winger that’s just come up from the youth team. And a short time after that their attention starts to turn away from those devastatingly gorgeous but even more devastatingly unobtainable boys on the pitch towards the infinitely not as gorgeous but infinitely more obtainable boys in the stands next to them.
I remember being about 13/14 and at the point of turning from shirt wearing kid to wannabe casual-ette, after having discovered United We Stand, the Stone Roses and arrogance. Suddenly those older lads with the nice coats who liked to sing a lot were recognised as uber cool, uber fit, and far more worthy of my desire than the players with their crap haircuts and Luther Vandross filled CD collections. With my best (and only) Adidas tracksuit top and matching Gazelles on I’d attempt to cut a swathe down Matt Busby Way, stopping off to buy fanzines from the my favourite (fittest) sellers (fit fanzine sellers?! Oh how times change…) who I hoped would recognise me as the girl of their dreams and not just some daft teenager trying to say “One please mate” in their Manc-est accent despite being from South Wales. I’d then walk past the steps that led up to the old entrances to K-stand and gaze longingly at the queues of lads in the highest quality moody-chic dark coats swaggering their way across the forecourt and singing their way into the ground, before sulking off to the family friendly Stretford End with my Dad and little brother where I’d continue to look over at the buzzing area behind the opposite goal and dream of the day Id be in there with them.
Like most naive young girls into football I thought that one day I’d find the perfect match; someone who loved my team like I did, who would understand all the strange little quirks and in-jokes that football fans have, who I would travel across the UK and Europe with, on buses and trains and in far flung stadiums, drinking and laughing and having a riot in the name of United. And who of course would have indie pin-up good looks, impeccable musical taste including a vast record collection I could steal from, be fantastically dressed and have a proper rock n roll Manc attitude. A Mani/Ian Brown/Tim Burgess/Richard Ashcroft/less twattish and not city-supporting Liam Gallagher clone who could guarantee me away tickets.Not much to ask for eh?
Perhaps unsurprisingly despite a number of (always doomed) terrace romances the closest thing I’ve had has been spending an unhealthy amount of time staring at the real Ian Brown who I’ve been sat very close to at the match on a number of occasions. A couple of times I’ve been stood right behind him going out of the ground and been tempted to pretend there’s a push behind me and stand right up close with my tits touching his back and my crotch near his arse, or “accidentally” fall into him and touch his hair with my face or something. Then I
get a grip and realise I don’t really want him to think of me as “that weird bird who frottages me in the ground” and attempt to suppress my raging sexual desires by thinking of Malcolm Glazer in a mankini. Which ALWAYS works. Harsh, but effective.
Now I feel obliged at this point to make it clear that the whole point of going to the match is going to the match, lest you think I’m painting a picture of some sort of bizarre plot to find love in unusual places, the next step being to join a penfriend to a prisoner scheme and end up marrying Charles Bronson. This myth that women go to football solely to find a potential husband is just that, a myth (and a laughable one, given the fucking state of the vast majority of blokes there); the notable exception being when a certain fame hungry bitch called Victoria Adams once accompanied her annoying Scouse bandmate to United-Liverpool with the explicit aim of digging her filthy fangs into our unsuspecting young midfield star, poisoning him with her stupid fucking ideas about moving to the continent and leeching onto his talent because she didn’t have any of her own the manipulative little pencil legged tramp. (Not that I’m bitter or anything, obviously…)
But regardless of what outsiders might think, a footballing environment does actually lend itself to the potential for amorous situations; being passionate about the same thing on the pitch can often lead to sharing a bit of passion off it. Football fans, for all the serious posturing, tend to be a bit of a daft romantic bunch; we sing all sorts of over the top sentimental songs and about love and pride and long overly emotional tributes to past teams and players, and are prone to bouts of misty eyed nostalgia and getting all tearful at certain poignant times. And this emotionally charged atmosphere we often find ourselves in, in stadiums and pubs and on long distance journeys, when celebrating glorious victories and trying to cast away the blues after particularly bad losses, and in all the other sorts of places we end up in, usually combined with the warm hazy feeling of drunken naughtiness, sometimes leads to emotional entanglements of a different nature. When times are good and you feel on top of the world you want to share that feeling with someone, particularly someone who gets it and is more pleasing to the eye than your much loved, but obviously not in that way, mates.
The boozy madness and live for the moment giddy holiday atmosphere of European away games, for those of us who are lucky enough to have them regularly, are one of the prime places where those sneaky smiles and winks across a crowded bar tend to develop into something a bit more; hotel rooms are already secured and, to be fair, most blokes on a euro away are after any bit of action they don’t have to pay for. The heady combination of strange foreign booze and being in some beautiful European city is a powerful aphrodisiac. Unfortunately though the idea is usually better than the execution; a drunken awkward fumble in the bathroom while trying not to wake the roommates up and keeping en eye on the door in case anyone else comes in when you’re hitting the heights is usually about as good as it gets. The only time the earth moves is when some useless fat cunt can’t find their room and collapses in the corridor outside. (By the way I’m talking from the generalised sense I get from other people’s conversations about what THEY get up to here obviously; I’ve never been involved in anything of the sort…) Long boozy post-match sessions, long coach and train trips on the way back from away games, and end-of-season dos and other football related functions are also places where steps in that direction are taken. Somewhat unsurprisingly alcohol seems to play a large part in all of these scenarios. Not quite sure what that says…
But of course in these circumstances there’s no such thing as a one night stand. There’s not much chance of a “wake up next day full of hung over regret, quick walk of shame and then never see them again” scenario. You’ll see them again and again, in the most awkward of circumstances, usually with everyone knowing what happened and plenty of sly nudges and winks. Word gets around the football grapevine faster than Rooney gets his mouth around a Big Mac.
On the whole, these encounters are pretty rare; much more frequent are the unwanted advances and occasional gropings by the older, even more desperate mob, who seem to think the sheer novelty of your presence means that they have to attempt a stab, in more ways than one. While most of these pisspoor attempts are done as drunken bravado, so woefully direct and embarrassingly obvious that the only thing you can do is laugh, sometimes you come across a few sleazier, snidier attempts that merit a loud “get to fuck” or sometimes even a slap. Over affectionate goal celebrations, the offer of hard to come by tickets as a sugar- daddy esque sweetener in return for “favours”, allowing you to double up at the turnstiles when ticketless, then squeezing just that bit too close for comfort to the point where the back of your legs feels more than just a hint of semi on… really lads, it’s just not on. Getting titted up in the half time bogs queue is hardly the makings of a steamy encounter.
On the whole, while it’s always useful for a bit of fun, relationships founded at the match that involve real men and not just one-way adoration of the ones on the pitch are just too fraught with issues to work out. Yeah some people have managed to find the love of their lives at the match, and every close season there seems to be yet another wedding of a perfect couple who rewrite the Ewan MacColl tune, having found their love by the stadium wall, dreamed a dream by the old South Stand etc etc. But for the vast majority of us, being with
someone at the football is just too much of a hassle, too big a distraction from what you’re actually there for. Football fans can be pretty selfish and prone to putting themselves first, which is hard to do when you’re stuck with a partner; t’s a pretty personal thing at times and you need that space to be able to do what you need to without worrying about someone else. Not to mention what happens when an argument starts; a pub discussion about whether Giggs is past it all too easily develops into a full blown row of the what the fuck do you know about anything anyway, you always think you know it all you arrogant, twat, yeah well you didn’t know when my birthday was did you sort that carries on way past the initial drunken nonsense stage. Who you’re going to that away game with, how its not fair if they go and you don’t, why didn’t you try to get me a ticket as well, I turned down going to such and such ‘cos you didn’t get one; it all gets completely ridiculous. Jealousy and paranoia from knowing too much about your respective social lives, tension about on pitch matters spilling over into off the pitch matters, and usually in a very public way; it’s all too much fucking hard work. Business and pleasure, it just doesn’t mix. Besides, to steal a line from the aforementioned Ian Brown that has graced many a United flag in the past – “One love, you don’t need another love.” When you’re in love with a football club you don’t really want anything or anyone else getting in the way of that special relationship. Unless, of course, Mr. Brown is stuck for somewhere to sleep on the next Euro away…