The Gills are now firmly established amongst the elite of English football, but after so long spent in the lower divisions, how much do we really know about our fellow supporters in the First Division? Thanks to the recent nationwide census, we are able to share with you the intimate secrets of those odd creatures who stand on the right hand side of the Town End….
The average age of Barnsley fans is 97, the oldest in the 1 Division. Many believe the Tykes are still the FA Cup holders following their 1912 triumph and a staggering 48% confess to sleeping through their entire Premiership campaign of 97/98. In fact, many stated their chief reason for supporting their club was their ability to stay awake to hear their results on the wireless, as they tend to be sound asleep by the time James Alexander Gordon reaches “Grimsby”. A mere 2% own a WAP phone, and of those the majority claimed they were no improvement on their old hearing aids. More fans were ejected at Oakwell for denture related disturbances last season that any other ground in the country.
Birmingham fans break wind more regularly than any other supporters in the 1st Division. Over the course of the season your average Bluenose farts 18 times an hour (rising to 38 times an hour on average during May). Only Crystal Palace fans achieved anything close to this, and then only in the closing stages of the season. Following the first leg of the Preston play-off game, a Commons committee recommended that a sliding roof be installed at St Andrews in an attempt to contain the environmental damage inflicted upon the ozone layer.
While it is widely recognised that Bradford has more curry houses per head than any other English city, Bantams fans buck the trend by consuming more cans of Alphabetti Spaghetti than any other 1st Division supporters. The canned pasta product is one of several discontinued lines still available in the Bradford area, others including Space Dust, Spangles and Outer Spacers. Literacy rates amongst Bradford fans are amongst the highest in the division, undermining the academics who scoffed at Alphabetti Spaghetti’s claims to be better at teaching reading and writing than many modern comprehensive schools.
It comes as no surprise that the pets of choice amongst Burnley fans are whippets (97% own at least one) and racing pigeons (94%). More shocking is the revelation that the third most popular pet is the South American piranha (55%). In fact, a piranha called Grewcock, belonging to a Bob Lord Stand season ticket holder, holds the world record for devouring a whippet (named Gregan) – 7.7 secs in October 2000.
The best selling item in the tea bars at Highfield Road is the nartjie, a small sweet orange similar to the mandarin, selling at £1.50. Last season the tannoy announcer was repeatedly forced to ask Coventry supporters to refrain from throwing fruit peel at opposition goalkeepers, a plea that fell on deaf ears and resulted in the club being fined after Nicky Weaver slipped on a banana skin discarded in the six yard box. The banana is the third most popular tea bar food, trailing the clementine in second place. A mere 2% of Coventry fans suffered from scurvy during the 2000/01 season. Strangely, mangoes never sold well at the ground, with one Sky Blue regular claiming that the mango meal deal (mango, medium coke, medium fries) “tasted like spunk”.
Quite simply, Crewe fans are the most stupid in the league. Although over 5,000 claimed to have completed their census forms, only seven were correctly addressed. Of the seven, two were partially completed, three were coloured in with crayons and one requested a family ticket for the Millennium Dome. The club now suspect that their traditionally low crowds are a factor of their supporters’ inability to find Gresty Road. They have mailed one syllable word directions to the ground to all season ticket holders and are revamping the 2001/02 matchday programme to contain pictures only.
Crystal Palace supporters are the spottiest in the league, with three-quarters suffering from chronic acne well into their fifties. Ron Noades tried to address the problem with a range of official club ointments and by introducing low fat grease free burgers (at a premium price) into the catering units, but to no effect. The Palace Club Call line now resorts to advocating beards and heavy make-up. A ground breaking FA Inquiry is currently investigating an incident towards the end of last season when an irate puss-laden Eagle burst three of his spots onto the back of manager Alan Smith’s head as the club suffered a fifth successive defeat. It is feared clear perspex screens- a kind of zit sneeze guard – may have to be erected around the Selhurst Park pitch to counter further such revolting demonstrations.
53% of Grimsby fans claim to be Badger Protection Officers by trade, beating Fishermen (46%) and Blacksmiths (1%). The explanation is that there are thought to be only two pairs of mating badgers left in the Cleethorpes area and a further reduction could have dire consequences for the disposal of rotten cod, which are fed to badgers if declared unfit for human consumption. The badger population is down 33% year on year after the Nottingham Forest team coach reversed over two on their visit last season.
In independent tests carried out by Fosters, it was discovered that Manchester City fans are the poorest in the country at holding their lager. On average, it takes two and half pints of lager for the average Manchester City fan to throw up and a further pint for them to lose control of all orifices. This despite them being the slowest drinkers – each pint took on average 71 minutes to consume, partly due to those tested whinging incessantly about ticket allocations and claiming in an animated drunken slur that City are the most massive club in the division.
The followers of the Second Division Champions are widely expected to reek havoc on their return to the First Division this season, but the musical tastes of the unruly South Londoners are not consistent with their thuggish notoriety. Favourite artist is the diminutive French Canadian songstress Celine Dion (27% of the New Den vote), followed closely by Level 42 and Hear’Say. All time favourite album is the timeless Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits), while the three all-time top songs are My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion), Sweet Little Mystery (Wet Wet Wet) and You Live in a Caravan
Norwich City have been keen to shake off their image as backward country bumpkins, but latest figures do them no favours. Redevelopments at Carrow Road to comply with the Taylor Report did not include the provision of any doors, even in the boardroom. This is because 80% of Norwich fans were, in fact, born in a barn. The majority own chickens and although the favoured car manufacturer is Vauxhall, a clear second is Massey Ferguson – and nearly all of those who don’t drive a tractor admit to having posters of them on their bedroom walls. Outside of football, the Canaries’ followers typically enjoy going to the cinema (62%), living it up at Young Farmers’ discos (51%) and “sitting around generally smelling of pig shit” (48%).
Brian Clough was affectionately known as “Ole big head”, but on average Forest fans have smaller heads than supporters of any other 1st Division club. Proportionally more “small” and “medium” bobble hats are sold at the City Ground than at any other club, partly explained by the lack of compensating hair on the heads of average Forest fans. 88% of male supporters are totally bald (51% of women). Remedies include hair transplants (favoured by 67% of Forest baldies), wigs (20%) and an innovative head shrinking drug (made from the reproductive glands of badgers) which enables those with a sparse thatch to appear rather more hirsute
While a staggering 78% of Pompey regulars are female, it transpires that Portsmouth have more transexual supporters than any other first division club, set to rise still further due to 1,088 season ticket holders awaiting the operation. The club cites a promotion it ran to celebrate Alan Ball’s appointment for his second spell in charge (half price sex swap operations for those fans spending £25 or more on Pompey lingerie in the club shop) as the chief cause. Alan Ball, rumoured to be a hermaphrodite, has refused to comment. Sales of “Pompey Chimes” knickers (XL) are the highest in the country.
Preston supporters have been arrested in more countries around the world than any other club. Most offences have been the result of over indulgence in alcohol or a misunderstanding of local cultures (or sometimes both, as in the case of the well meaning North Ender who, after a hearty session on Cobra, offered a gift of beef and horseradish sandwiches to the Moghul Muslims at the Taj Mahal). An un-named man from Bootle clocked up country No.186 in September 2000 when he was detained overnight following an “unsavoury” incident involving a marine iguana in the Galapagos Islands.
A staggering four-fifths* of Rotherham supporters have royal names, with Henry and Eugene being the most popular. The Millers royalist traditions are little known, yet the limited edition crockery set which jointly commemorated the 1981 wedding of Charles and Diana and Rotherham’s promotion to the First Division remains to this day the best selling merchandise item in the club’s history, and now fetches in excess of £1500 at auction. Rotherham are anticipating a sell-out for their prestige friendly to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee next year (opponents to be confirmed, hoped to be Motherwell).*For the purposes of this poll, the 27 season ticket holders christened Dodi or Camilla were excluded.
Sheffield United supporters not only follow the Blades, they also follow our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Church attendance amongst the United faithful is higher than that of any other 1st Division club. 0.3% attend church every Sunday, rising to 0.5% during the run-in to the season. Evidence suggests they take heed of the Lord’s teachings – a mere 6% have coveted their neighbour’s ass, and only 4% have enjoyed sex before marriage. 0.5% have taken a bible to Bramall Lane, although the majority were used for confetti at last season’s derby game, with one “brandished in an aggressive manner towards Kevin Pressman” according to South Yorkshire police.
Sheffield Wednesday fans are football purists, displaying limited interest in any other sports. 20% claim to be regular attendees at Headingly during the summer, while a few have expressed an interest in rugby league, basketball and petanque. Participation levels are even lower, with just 3% taking regular exercise (invariably darts or snooker). Interestingly, obesity rates among Owls fans are the highest in the 1st Division, with 20 wheezing Hillsborough season tickets being admitted to hospital while taking part in sporting activity during the 2000/01 season (sixteen playing football, three in fun runs and one while watching Martina Hingis knock-up at Wimbledon wearing tight pants).
Stockport fans are more likely to travel to games by bike than any other form of transport. Favoured model (by 56% of the Cheshire club’s support) is the Aegis1999 Brotus Sport mountain bike, famed for it’s robust front suspension. Second and third respectively are the Raleigh Chopper and the Grifter, and the debate over the merits of both has polarised the support to such an extent that abusive messages are now automatically removed from the club website message boards. The rift only eased when the chief protagonist from the Grifter faction, while passionately arguing with fellow supporters that the handle bar mounting of the three gear shift was vastly superior to the Chopper’s T-bar gear stick, was knocked off his bike by the Nottingham Forest team coach in the cobbled street behind the Main Stand.
When confronted with the entire contents of the Oxford English Dictionary, Walsall fans plumped for “crevice” as their favourite word, a choice of nearly half. “Lubricant” and “pants” were the second and third choices. The literate Saddlers’ fans, expelling the myth that they are all dumb Brummie twats, cite the overuse of the split infinitive as their pet grammatical hate and regularly inundate the club with complaints when the programme misuses apostrophes. The switchboard was jammed by disgruntled supporters when Ray Graydon claimed in his managers’ notes that they “could beaten West Ham had they been awarded a first half penalty” following last season’s FA Cup tie. Make that “have” next time, Ray.
Watford’s squeaky clean family image is certainly emphasised in the recent survey. Only two current Watford supporters confessed to committing a football related crime at Vicarage Road (one was ejected for swearing at a linesman, one was charged with causing an affray for threatening Luton’s Ricky Hill with a cheese baguette following the 1982 derby game). Away from football it’s a different story – 53% of Britain’s prison population claim to be Watford supporters, including all seven currently serving time for necrophilia.
West Bromwich Albion supporters have the most dubious post-lavatory habits in the division. A mere one in eight guarantee to wash their hands after using the toilet, rising to one in five after a dump and one in four in a restaurant. A spokesman for the club was aware of the trend and cited this for the absence of running water in all toilets at The Hawthorns other than those at the away end. On a related theme, 66% of Baggies confess to sniffing their fingers immediately after scratching their arses or bollocks.
It would be expected that Wombles would feature highly in any top ten kids’ tv character poll taken amongst the dwindling Selhurst Park faithful. This is borne out by the appearance of Tomsk and Tobermory in the recent census, but the environmentally friendly inhabitants of Wimbledon Common are eclipsed by The Clangers – Major Clanger , Tiny Clanger and The Soup Dragon are all represented. More surprising is the first choice, the sprightly speech-impaired Tog from Pogle’s Wood, who pipped The Moog from Will’o the Wisp. Alan Cork came third, while 72% declared a pathological hatred for Hambel from Playschool.
The dark side of the Midlands manifests itself amongst Wolves fans in their readiness to dabble in the occult. Over half of Molineux regulars are Satanists with 45% confessing to sacrificing lambs prior to important cup ties, perhaps in reverence towards infamous club mascot Wolfie. More worryingly, a quarter regularly sacrificed virgins during Mark McGhee and Colin Lee’s reign – it is not known whether the appointment of Dave Jones or the lack of virgins in the Black Country is responsible for the recent downturn in this trend. The Ouija Board was the top selling item in the club shops last Christmas, second only to cuddly talking Wolfies that bark “Fuck Off West Brom” when you pull their tails.
– The Reverand Bernice Woodall –