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What Is A Fan? Part 2

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 20/08/2001

NICKO asked the question: Am I a fan? Or, What is a fan? Not an easy answer but there is one. If we look at the Mariners we can see that they have a great number of fans but few supporters and therein lays the difference.

Nick said "I also know some people who have never been to a game before. Are they fans? They only follow the Town; they make every effort to listen to games whenever they can. The first result they look for is Town's."

They are fans for sure. They see Grimsby Town as "their" team. There may be reasons why they cannot attend matches but nonetheless they are fans.

"There are people like the expats, who also never go to a game. Or maybe manage 4 or 5 games every 4 or 5 seasons. Are they fans? They used to go years ago before emigrating so they were fans then but are they now?"

"What about the people on the mailing lists, about half are regular attendees at BP is my guesstimate. Are the other half fans? They take part in all discussions about the club, with their own views and ideas but they don't go to matches. Are they still fans?"

There can be no doubt that all these people are fans because they see the Mariners as their team. But they are not supporters!

I have always held "fans" and "supporters" as two distinct groups. Most of the people who went to Wembley were fans. They were special occasions so for those games, many fans became supporters.

There are many people who cannot get to games, the ex pats in particular of which I am one. But many of these ex pats are true supporters in that they contribute to the club funds and that is the difference between a fan and a supporter.

A supporter is one who in some way contributes to the club. Attending games or if unable to do so, they may buy goods from the club shop, be a member of the gold club or whatever but in some way the club receive some form of contribution from them.

"...The real fans are the supporters..."

Members of GTISC for example are nearly all supporters. Many live overseas but they buy raffle tickets and subscribe to other fundraising projects which in the end gets channelled back to the club via sponsorships etc. Other members who live in GB attend games, so these people are not only fans but supporters also.

Members of Grim Exiles are supporters, The London Mariners who are part of the Grim Exile group are very good supporters who travel from the London area to see their team at home and away games. Tony Butcher (who writes the match reports) and his lady Sue are true supporters. They live in Watford and travel each week to home and most away games to see Town play.

They are not alone. There are many supporters who live great distances from BP but still make the effort to attend games or contribute in some other way.

It is this group called "supporters" who are the real lifeblood of the club. Turning up week after week despite results or weather. Without these people we would not have a football club.

So the answer to Nicko's question now appears simple to answer. Anyone can be a "fan"

But the real fans are the "supporters"!!

If there were some way that we could convert the "fans" to "supporters" Grimsby Town Football Club would be a very successful club. If only the community of North East Lincolnshire and beyond would wake up to the fact that GTFC is a diamond in their midst, the flagship of the community, something which can bring the people together, something to be proud of, we could, as someone else said, "Put the Great back into Grimsby"

So what are you? Are you a fan or a supporter? Grimsby Town needs you!!

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