Field Work Awaits

This is my last post on this side of the Atlantic for the next month. Tomorrow I leave for Liverpool and a month of field research on the football fans of that city. My plan is to watch a several games there over the next few weeks and to meet and interview some of the fans of the teams (primarily Liverpool and Everton).

I did a test run of my research methods at the Toronto FC – Montreal Impact game on Wed., so I have some idea of what it is I’m getting into, but I don’t think a sparse crowd of 11,000 at BMO will in anyway compare to the crowd at Anfield or Goodison Park. The biggest limitation is that I can only be in one place at a time, so I will undoubtedly miss some of the action that I’m interested in, but at the same time, in being at a game and watching the crowd (and the game too) gave me some confidence that this is actually doable.

Interesting observations of the TFC Impact game:

  • When the weather sucks it can be more of a factor than any crowd, and will keep the home supporters away (if you came from Montreal for the game you were going to stick it out no matter what);
  • Standing is waaaaay better than sitting in freezing, windy, and wet conditions;
  • I like that TFC fans swear in both official languages – how Canadian can you get;
  • Taking pictures is really easy since everyone else is doing it;
  • Taking audio clips looks odd, but maybe I’m just holding a weirdly shaped phone;
  • The best chant of the night was the “The Massive” chant that goes on between section 112-13 and 109-111. The call and response part of the chant really gets everyone into it – you feel like you’re part of the group and it takes over the whole corner of the stadium – my best instance of how the TFC fans claimed their territory;
  • Biggest limitation – it was difficult to observe the Impact fans as I was at the opposite end of the same East Stand – gotta be more careful in my seat selection (not that I have much choice in England).

So here I go, first match up is this Wednesday. AFC Liverpool vs. Squires Gate in the North West Counties Premier League (9th tier of English Football). Average crowd is about 100, so this should be a bit of a different experience. Will keep you posted about the footy on the Merseyside.