Charlie Palmer – Stop patronising football fans

CHARLIE PALMER is sick to death of being mocked for his love of Football.

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There aren’t that many football fans in Cambridge.

Given the sport’s overwhelming popularity in this country, this is a bit of a surprise, but as long as I can find someone to watch a game with it’s not exactly a problem.

What’s less surprising, but more irritating, is the presence of a vocal minority who say they hate football and everything it stands for. “Oh, you’re not a football fan, are you?”, “How can you like football?” and even “You like football? Oh dear. You seemed like an intelligent guy” are all reactions I’ve had to telling people that I like a sport followed by half the world. This has happened most often in Cambridge, where bright and cultured students reckon they’re above a boring game played by overpaid brats in front of a baying mob of violent criminals.

The Union had a debate last night about whether money had ruined sport. I think the suggestion is ridiculous. “People used to be proud of their local team – football isn’t a local thing any more,” you say. Tell that to the people of Funchal, on Madeira, where Cristiano Ronaldo was born. They won’t shut up about him.

Newspapers publish constant complaints that footballers are paid too much, that it’s all about the money now. Here’s supposed mercenary Luis Suarez after his Liverpool side threw away their chances of winning the league on Monday night. Hint: he isn’t upset about missing out on his bonus.

“Charlie Palmer, class warrior” is probably not a title frequently attributed to me, but I think there’s a particularly insidious kind of snobbery associated with the “overpaid brats” myth.

Premiership footballers have made it to the very top of one of the most competitive industries in the world, and we begrudge them the money because most players haven’t been to university, haven’t come from families with a history of wealth, and decide to celebrate by buying themselves nice cars.

Why is their incredible talent less significant than that of a stockbroker or a fund manager? At a university where many of us will end up in careers that face allegations of excess, this seems a bit hypocritical.

Some of you hate football because you hate the fans – they’re violent, yobbish, racist and drunk. It never ceases to amaze me how many people make this lazy assumption – it’s like saying you don’t like Cambridge students because you read about Caesarian Sunday in the Daily Mail.

To be fair, this does look like a pretty typical Cambridge scene

Just as the shouty writers at the Mail don’t tell you about all the wonderful people at Cambridge, so the Guardian don’t show you the elderly Portsmouth fan, in tears because his team have just won the FA Cup and his late wife wasn’t there to see it, getting a hug from the massive nightclub bouncer sitting nearby with his eight-year-old son.

As for whether the game is boring, I guess I can’t make you find it interesting. But at least let me like it. This university is full of people who are interested in strange things that most people find boring, full of people who are geekily obsessed with something for its own sake. What could be more Cambridge than being able to name the entire Portsmouth team that started that FA Cup Final?

I find it baffling that I get told the sport I love is pointless by a guy who studies ancient linguistics and religiously watches Made In Chelsea.

If I bore you by talking about football, stop me. If I’ve started getting into drunken fights at football matches, tell me I’m being a twat.

But don’t judge me for having an interest just because it’s not your cup of tea.