As Leeds United fans, we will all know at least one Man U “supporter” who – let’s face it – is a bit of a knob. You know the sort – they never go to the game, but they drone on and on about “Nitid” to anyone who’s unlucky enough to be trapped in conversation with them. Most of them can name David Beckham and Eric Cantona, but they’re not too sure about more recent names. They’ve ALL swallowed the “Biggest Club in the World” myth, all of them. Hook, line and sinker. They’re pretty dismal individuals. Now, fame and money don’t normally improve a person – so how much worse are the Pride of Devon’s celebrity fans? I mean, loathe them or hate them, you can’t deny there’s some things their fans are good at, and being utterly dislikeable is right up there. Take a look at these prize specimens, presented here in time-honoured descending order of detestability…
10. Mick Hucknall
There’s a website entitled 1000 People More Annoying Than Mick Hucknall. A whole thousand. That’s not bad, really – out of a world population of seven billion or so – and it shoots him straight to the bottom of this list of horrors. In truth, Hucknall only just edges in here in 10th place, as he actually has a couple of redeeming features. He’s absolutely from Manchester for a start, which for a Nitid fan means he should probably be stuffed and put on display. He’s also a Labour Party supporter, which is the next-best thing to being a socialist. With Mick, it’s probably mainly his support for Man U itself that makes him annoying – apart from those ginger dreadlocks and the silly “slept with 1000 women” nonsense. As a human being, Hucknall is faintly ridiculous – as a Man U fan, he’s just about the best.
9. Steve McFadden
Born in Maida Vale in London, McFadden therefore exemplifies the standard Man U fan demographic. His acting career has been mainly characterised by pretending to be hard, an echo of the qualification condition for membership of the so-called Red Army, a group of 1970’s Man U fans who roved around the country from their southern base, looking for stragglers and scarfers to attack in numbers. When his stint pretending to be hard in Eastenders came to a temporary halt in 2005, McFadden turned to documentaries, mainly surrounding violence, in which he pretended to be hard. He later returned to Eastenders, and resumed his accustomed role of pretending to be hard.
8. Michael le Vell
Another rare and exotic beast – a Man U fan from the local area, Newton Heath – which was the original name of the Salford club. Michael le Vell has had to endure a tough and humiliating period of his life a while back when, during a court case he was outed as a fan of the Theatre of Hollow Myths outfit. “I have to admit,” said le Vell, “I did find that a lickle bit embarrassing.” A former winner of “Most Ridiculous Moustache in Soaps” award, le Vell (real name Michael Robert Turner) started his acting career at the Oldham Theatre Workshop. During the 1980’s, he gained a following as a gay icon due to his daft ‘tache and also the skintight jeans which he wore mainly to ensure the high-pitched voice of Mancunian indignation which he used for the majority of his Coronation Street lines.
7. Brian Blessed
Born in Mexborough, South Yorkshire, Blessed is one of that sorry Legion of the Damned, the Man U fan from the God’s Own County, or the Tyke Scummer, as they are sometimes known.
Blessed has made a very successful career in theatre and TV, managing to circumvent the normal requirement for some talent by building upon his childhood discovery that he could shout. Since then, Blessed has managed to shout his way, aided by an immensely passionate love affair with himself, to public recognition as a loud-mouthed huge person capable of dominating even modern 50″ TV screens simply by filling them.
Blessed lists his chief preoccupations as “Shouting, climbing mountains, shouting, growing a ridiculous beard and voice projection (shouting)”.
6. Zoë Ball
As with many a child before her, Zoë followed the football team her Dad supported as is quite right and proper – most of the time. In her case, Dad was Kids’ TV guru Johnny Ball, and the team was Liverpool FC. So far, so good. But as the years went by, and Liverpool’s star fell somewhat – alongside the fact that Man U were in the ascendant – Zoë realised that being blonde, passably pretty and having a famous Dad wasn’t going to be enough to bring her the media success she craved. How, then, to enhance her public profile?
And behold, a new Man U fan was born. Zoë tumbled to the fact that the Pride of Devon were BIG in media circles and she noticed that lifelong Nitid fans were crawling out of the woodwork everywhere. Joining that degraded crew, she decided, could be good for her career. So it came to pass. Whenever she needed a new job, or to impress some vacuous hack or TV exec, she now had the choice of referring to her famous Dad or to her newly life-long support of Man U. Enough of them were pleased enough with what they heard to give her a leg-up, so to speak, and her career blossomed out of all proportion to her mediocre talents. It just goes to show – if you want to succeed, Opportunism Knocks.
Dad Johnny remains a Liverpool FC fan. Whoever hears of him these days??
5. Roger Moore
We’re heading rapidly for the more despicable end of the list now. Roger Moore is not only notorious as the Worst James Bond Ever, he’s also a prominent supporter of David Cameron’s Conservative Party, a well-known brown-noser of foreign royalty, universally acclaimed as the only man ever to have been comprehensively out-acted by Tony Curtis (in TV’s The Persuaders!) and worst of all – whisper it softly – a Man U fan.
“I love M.U,” said Moore in one TV interview, using his Spitting Image parody voice and creaking one eyebrow upwards. “I nearly went to a game once.” Spitting Image figured large in media piss-takes of Moore. The satirical latex puppet show featured a Bond movie spoof, “The Man with the Wooden Delivery”, with Moore’s rubber character receiving orders from Margaret Thatcher to kill Mikhail Gorbachev. Many other comedy shows at that time ridiculed Moore’s acting, Rory Bremner once claiming to have had a death threat from an irate fan of Moore’s, following one such routine. Some people have simply no sense of humour.
4. Geoffrey Boycott
Into the top four most embarrassing now, and the standard of these pieces of human flotsam continues to decline steadily. What can we say about “Sir” Geoffrey, folk hero to the dafter kind of Yorkshireman, professional Tyke and shameless exploiter of anything to do with the White Rose county, particularly in a “creekkit” context.
Geoff’s lop-sided grimace and tortured accent have become familiar annoyances to anyone who follows the sound of willow on leather, and the unashamed forthrightness of his views is far more famous than any worthwhile content or relevance that might occasionally be detectable. Boycott used to be a Nottingham Forest fan, due to his admiration for fellow gobshite Brian Clough; after Cloughie’s ignominious exit from the City Ground following relegation in 1993, “Boyks” jumped ship with the alacrity of a trained-up rat, settling on the Evil Empire for his devotion from that time on, blithely ignoring his supposed Broad Acres affiliation.
Together with fellow “Pro Yorkshireman”, Michael Parkinson, Boycott continues to capitalise financially on his home county whilst lending his dubious support to Man U. Parkinson possibly deserves a category of his own, due to his self-promotion as a fan of lovable little Barnsley; his early defection to Man U to worship and write about future dissolute waster George Best is less well-known. It’s only right that two such examples of base treachery should share one item though. May they be happy together in their wretched infidelity.
3. Usain Bolt
Some Man U fans, blissfully unaware of the irony of what they’re spouting, will often drone on about “not choosing your team, but your team choosing you”. We’re meant to nod, acknowledging that yes, of course, Man U are the biggest and the best – and that’s why they’re a natural to be supported by such a damn fine chap as whoever the plastic gloryhunter might be that’s coming out with such self-aggrandising crap. Dear me.
Man U fans for the overwhelmingly most part are sensitive little souls, slightly inadequate and socially inept, desperately insecure and in need of a morale boost and some reassurance – natural victims who need in their own minds to be identified by what they see as size (let’s not get too Freudian here) and success. Supporting Man U gives them a vicarious feeling of good times and well-being – or at least it used to – and they hope others will see them in this light too.
Tragically, as they walk down whatever southern high street in whichever of the current half-dozen Man U shirts they’re wearing, people are just looking at them, sighing, shaking their heads sadly and thinking “Tosser”. But we need to recognise these character defects for what they are and not be misled by any outward display of bumptiousness or arrogance. It’s almost never what it seems – except in some very isolated cases.
Usain Bolt, undisputed fastest man in the world and self-proclaimed living legend, is one of the genuine articles. So utterly self-obsessed and convinced of his own wonderfulness that the world actually has a guilty feeling it should be turning around him, Usain is a case study in arrogance. He is not above a little bragging in much the same way that the sea is not above the clouds. He follows Man U, we might surmise, not to make himself feel better, but to do Man U a favour; Usain’s support might, he must reason, make Man U look good.
He feels that, when he retires from running, he might decide to play for Man U. This is a deeply, deeply self-involved person – not a typical Man U fan at all. Just the living embodiment of the arrogance the lesser Man U mortals so dearly would love to radiate. And yet for all this natural talent and detestability – he’s still only the 3rd most repellent Man U fan. Oh dear, Usain. Fail.
2. Terry Christian
Terry, for his sins, takes the most mangled, nasal, godawful accent anywhere in the British Isles – and performs the almost impossible feat of making it sound ten times worse after the Christian treatment. Add to that grievous assault on your ear-drums the hooded eyes, the arrogant “bollocks to you” Salford lad smile and – oh, just bloody everything else about the man, and you have a person who could make your very soul bleed at 500 paces.
Nothing is needed here about his career, or his piss-poor book, or anything except just the persona of the man, his carriage, his attitude. There’s a phrase some Man U fans use to describe, by their own lights, a desirable and cool human being. “A clued-up, clobbered-up Manc”, they say in tones of awe and deep, abiding love. Obviously the rest of us can’t imagine anything more nightmarish – but this is the image Christian projects. Just too, too horrible for words.
Christian chooses to define himself by his support of Man U, so I’m afraid it’s a case of “live by the sword, die by the sword”. It’s important to point this out, otherwise it might seem harsh to rip a man for supporting what is his local club. But Terry is just so offensively Man U, he embodies so absolutely everything that people love to hate about the most intrinsically disgusting club in the Universe, that it’s difficult to imagine just what there might be about him that anyone, anywhere, could possibly love. Apart from other Man U fans, obviously. And, equally obviously, they don’t count.
1. Eamonn “Feckin'” Holmes
This is The One. He out-scums Christian, he out-oils even Moore. He’s a rabid Man U fan who comes from Northern Ireland and lives in London. He pronounces “Fiona” as “Fye-owner”, for Christ’s sake. He makes feeble links and uncomfortable connections in the course of his daily work to give him some reason – any reason – to drone on in his annoying voice, with a smug, annoying smile on his smug, annoying face about Man U, the source of his violently unhealthy obsession.
It gets worse. He’s friends with S’ralex, which is enough to exclude him from polite society everywhere. Your typical Man U fans hate him, but feel they can’t admit it for fear of being disloyal to such a rabid, gloryhunting obsessive. So they give themselves hernias trying to find something nice to say about the loathsome Holmes, ending up with something feeble along the lines of “Well, he’s certainly Man U frew and frew, innit – and he’s S’ralex’s mate you know, squire. Cor, blimey, stone the bladdy crows an’ lavvadack.”
There is no excuse for Eamonn Holmes. No shadow of any justification for the look he gets in his eyes when he thinks he has something clever to say, no allowances to be made for that annoying little smacking of his lips he does prior to delivering another laboriously-prepared ponderous one-liner to be dutifully laughed at by his long-suffering colleagues. And I know it’s wrong, but I hate the way his features stay the same size as his face expands. It’s nauseating, as is everything else about him.
More than anyone else on this list, I would say of Holmes – he deserves to be a Man U fan. There. You just can’t be more offensively downright cruel than that. I feel spiritually cleansed.
These are the ten worst I could think of. There are many who could have qualified as “dishonourable mentions”, people who would deserve the utmost denigration if associated with any other clubs. In the soul-less, dismal ranks of Man U fans, they are merely ordinary and unremarkable. Michael Parkinson, who actually got a dishonourable mention in there. Michael Atherton. That blonde wench on Countdown who can’t add up quite as well as la Vorderman (also a Scummer of Convenience, a Career Scummette). Bill bloody Clinton. The Neville chimps. There are many. But these ten, I honestly believe are the worst of the worst, and they each merit inclusion for their own particular, despicable reason. I would be interested, though, to hear of any other nominations.