From Nick Hornby's 1992 Fever Pitch:
It wasn't the size of the crowd that impressed me most, however, or the way that adults were allowed to shout the word 'WANKER!' as loudly as they wanted without attracting any attention. What impressed me most was just how much most of the men around me hated, really hated, being there. As far as I could tell, nobody seemed to enjoy, in the way that I understood the word, anything that happened during the entire afternoon.
Within minutes of the kick-off there was real anger ('You're a DISGRACE, Gould. He's a DISGRACE! A hundred quid a week? A HUNDRED QUID A WEEK! They should give that to me for watching you.'); as the game went on, the anger turned into outrage, and then seemed to curdle into sullen, silent discontent. Yes, yes, I know all the jokes. What else could I have expected at Highbury? But I went to Chelsea and to Tottenham and to Rangers, and saw the same thing: that the natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.
. . .
The audiences I had hitherto been a part of had paid to have a good time and, though occasionally one might spot a fidgety child or a yawning adult, I hadn't ever noticed faces contorted by rage or despair or frustration. Entertainment as pain was an idea entirely new to me, and it seemed to be something I'd been waiting for.
It might not be too fanciful to suggest that it was an idea which shaped my life. I have always been accused of taking the things I love -- football, of course, but also books and records -- much too seriously, and I do feel a kind of anger when I hear a bad record, or when someone is lukewarm about a book that means a lot to me.
Perhaps it was these desperate, bitter men in the West Stand at Arsenal who taught me how to get angry in this way; and perhaps it is why I earn some of my living as a critic -- maybe it's those voices I can hear when I write. 'You're a WANKER, X. The Booker Prize? THE BOOKER PRIZE? They should give that to me for having to read you.'
Tags: Hornby, Fever Pitch