Just as footballers can be classified as either defenders, forwards or goalkeepers, so fans can be categorised into certain broad stereotypes.
The study has shown that supporters can be categorised into groups:
The Cloth Cap Brigade:
These are a band of men who enjoyed their heyday at the turn of the century. They are avid supporters. The Cloth Cap Brigade are easily identified because they make a very distinctive call which sounds something like “giveherlang giveherlangferchrissakes”. This means kick the ball as hard and as far down the pitch as you can. The Cloth Caps have nothing against the O’Dwyer revolution and the modern game. They just don’t think it will work for their team. All Cloth Caps are waiting for their messiah. The ‘chosen one’ will be a seven foot tall full-forward with hands like shovels. Standing at the edge of the square the messiah will catch all those ‘lang’ balls and score enough goals and points to win that elusive county championship.
The Crazy Women:
The existence of the gangs of crazy women who attend gaelic football matches has not been very well documented. Needless to say, they exist, and they are extremely dangerous. Decades ago, the crazy women armed themselves with umbrellas which they used as weapons to assault players. Now that most pitches have perimeter fencing, the crazies have decommissioned their brollies but they have become equally lethal with the tongue. Referees are the favourites targets. Some of these women suffer from DMS (Doting Mother Syndrome) which is a strain of DFS (written about last week). Women with DMS will attack referees who give decisions against their sons. More frightening still, is the common occurrence when a gang of crazy women defend each others’ sons. The result: verbal carnage.
These men are the sixties generation, but you wouldn’t think it to look at them. When other nations were entering the age of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll this squad were running around dance halls in Carrickmore, Kilrea and Belfast. The loyalists form the backbone of the GAA. By and large they are peace loving creatures, however they have been known to turn violent during the championship season. Loyalists come to all matches, rain, hail or snow. Some come to chat to friends, others to torture the opposition, while the majority have long since forgotten why they go to matches - it’s just something they do on a Sunday.
The Club Mascot:
For mascot read lunatic, and there is one in every club. Indeed their reputation often goes before them. The mascot is a loner, though not by choice. No one knows if mascots actually enjoy gaelic football as they never applaud or praise their team. Rather for 60 minutes, the mascot, foaming and frothing at the mouth, curses the opposition, the referee, his own team etc. Most Mascots cannot drive, yet there is a goodly soul in every club who persists in bringing this person to away matches.
The Drinking Crew:
The drinking crew are sons of the Loyalists and some have grandfathers who are Cloth Caps. The drinking crew tend to be in their twenties or thirties and they are very single. Often they don’t turn up until half-time. Sunday is not a good day for the crew. Attendance at the match serves two vital functions. The first of these is to establish what happened on the previous night. The second is to watch the match. There is a further reason why the crew turn up late. Some of their comrades from the previous night (who also downed a copious number of pints) are out on the pitch, so the crew know well in advance that there is little chance of victory.
Teenage Posers (female):
This group only appear at championship matches with big crowds. Again they are easy to recognise. Posers can be seen walking around the pitch, on the loose gravel, in high heels, looking out at the crowd and largely ignoring the ongoing match. This practice is known within the sisterhood as ‘circuits’. Posers tend to drift away from gaelic football, unless they hook up with a member of the Drinking Crew.
Four words can sum up the playing career of a typical physio’s friend and they are: ‘lame for every game’. Pulled hamstrings, severed ligaments, sore groins, you name it, and he has had it. Physiotherapists dream about getting one of these players on their client list. He is the ideal customer. Once a physio’s friend has signed up, all financial worries can be forgotten. With a guaranteed two trips a week, for injuries, either real or imagined, the sick one will pay bills, mortgages and put children through university.
The Male Model:
It’s easy to spot the male model at training sessions. He’s the player wearing the Cork jersey on Monday, Meath on Wednesday and Dublin on Friday. Not only will he have the jersey, he’ll also have the accompanying shorts and socks. Male Models normally sport a healthy tan for about six months of the year. He is the one player in the changing room guaranteed to bring hair gel, shampoo and deodorant. After his liberal application of deodorant, he can be difficult to see as he will be enveloped in a cloud of sweet smelling mist. The Male Model despises the fact that he must share his toiletries every week with some spongers. However, he realises it is a necessary evil if he is to leave the changing room looking and smelling his very best.
County Star (Club Hero):
He is the heartbeat of the team. This man sends himself to sleep at night by counting O’Neill’s footballs floating over a crossbar. Despite huge commitments to the county panel, he will be a regular attender at club training sessions. The Club Hero is highly valued, primarily for his talent, but also for the example he provides other players. Club heroes watch what they eat, go easy on the drink and refrain from cigarettes. If they have one weakness, it’s women. For some misguided reason they are under the illusion that women are not detrimental to your health.
County Star (The Invisible Man):
This other type of county footballer enjoys a love/hate, though mostly hate, relationship with his club’s supporters. They love him when he turns up for matches because he can be the difference between winning and losing a match. They hate him because they think he is a big headed poser, who seeks only personal glory through his county team, while abandoning the very club that taught him how to play the game.
Hard Ground Specialist:
Just as there are race horses that cannot cope with soft ground, so there are footballers who feel ill-suited to early season training. Hard ground specialists consider the dedicated winter trainers to be mere point-to-pointers, whereas they are the genuine flat-race thoroughbred. With the recent good weather, they will have started to appear at training sessions throughout the country in their droves.
The schoolboy has only one thing in his head: football. Carrying absolutely no weight, the schoolboy runs just for the fun of it. Older players in the team are jealous of schoolboys as they represent their lost youth. Junior football is the traditional sacrificial ground where balding corner-backs regularly obliterate frisky teenagers for no apparent reason. Schoolboys are best advised to stay clear of these ageing veterans if they wish to stay clear of serious injury.
The transformation from schoolboy to student is as pronounced as that of the caterpillar to butterfly. Where once he was a schoolboy whose only ambition was to get on the senior team; the student discovers the pleasures of wine, woman and song. Football is put way down the agenda. For the first six months of his fresher year the student will have a silly looking smile permanently attached to his face. A pot belly will start to develop in his midriff. He will give the excuse of either assignments or exams for his continued absence at training, yet there will be repeated sightings of him in The Paddocks, The Vineyard, The Straw Hall, The Greyhound, McGowans; you get the picture. The club hero will try to lecture the student about the error of his ways, but it is hopeless, he will be a lost soul for the next four years.
The scourge of all clubs. Has no role in society, let alone a GAA club other than turning up at the club's general meetings, dressed in their Sunday best and wreaking all sorts of cumbersome havoc. As footballers they were in general, disgustingly hopeless and with a pair of arms and legs that refused to work together in harmony on the pitch they spent their careers wrapped up in a good big overcoat on the line belittling the efforts of their team-mates on the field and vocally cursing the mentors who had the sense to keep them off the starting fifteen. Their resentments are built up over the years and anyone who ever crossed their path is subject to their pent up vitriol. Will seethingly complain about everything in the club from selectors to assistant-treasurers, have a penchant for refusing to accept democratic decisions at all levels yet will never offer to do anything constructive for the club and even buying a monthly €5 ticket is beyond their limited capabilities. Are completely selfish and only seem to care about themselves and their brothers/sons/nephews within the club - all of whom are a milder version of the general Shit Stirrer. Have a deep hatred of all neighbouring clubs, referees and most of their own clubmates yet in most cases never receive the widespread condemnation they truly deserve.
If a club only has one such character they are something of a mundane outfit. However, it is usually the most lunatic character within the club's environs that gains this unenviable title. Can be seen at championship matches pacing up and down the line frothing and foaming at the lips of his mostly toothless mouth and shouting all sorts of impenetrable obscenities at the referee, linesman, players from both sides and supporters. Will be among the first people in the dressing room before a big game, will reappear again at half time and at the end and will be very forthright in his much-maligned opinions. He will more than likely have changed his tack later in the local after a few pints of the black stuff and couple of half ones yet will always swear by his views. In most cases this raving lunatic doesn't own a car yet there is always someone available to prop him up in the front of their vehicle and bring him to his required destination. Whenever the opportunity arises he will serve as linesman and his arm always signals the same direction - in favour of his team. He will more than likely cause some sort of row but has an uncanny knack of being able to disappear when the going gets tough.
Every club in every county has one - if they didn't they would have ceased to exist long ago. He is the man in the club that does everything - often without a title to his name. He arranges games, he lines the pitch, puts up the nets, pumps the balls, opens the dressing rooms, turns on the showers, brings the water, jerseys and first aid kit, pays the ref and locks up afterwards. He informs all the players of all the necessary details and if the game is away his car is bursting at the seams with players, supporters and club officials. Often he will train an Under-10 team on a given evening in the field, finish up in time to select the Junior 'C' team, and end up being forced into action himself because of a lack of numbers before rushing to a County Board meeting as the club's delegate and then back to the 'local' to co-ordinate the monthly draw. On the rare occasions that this individual falls sick or goes missing for a couple of days the entire club falls into disrepute and scenes of chaos ensue.