Glory hunter

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A glory hunter is a term used for people who are suspect to supporting a particular football club due to its size, quality and/or popularity in the media. [] Glory hunters usually live outside the town or area where a particular team is from, and may, in fact, live in a different country altogether.

Glory hunting has arrived with the advent of regularly televised football, as people can see attractive and successful football being played by clubs all over the viewer's country. Many supporters adopt a 'second club' usually a successful one from another country. In terms of European clubs, many have gained a huge world-wide fanbase due to their success in the European Cup/Champions League.

Glory hunters in Scotland

Rangers F.C. and Celtic F.C. have the most amount of supporters of any Scottish club. This could be put down in part to the huge domestic success both clubs achieve year in year out. Not since the 1984/85 season has a team outside the Old Firm won the league title. It could be argued that, since both Rangers and Celtic hail from Glasgow, they would obviously have more supporters due to the sheer size of the city. Although partly true, this argument could be dispelled, because Edinburgh (the second biggest city in Scotland, with a population of over 400,000 people), has its own two football teams - Heart of Midlothian F.C. and Hibernian F.C. - yet they have far fewer fans and their stadiums hold less than 18,000 supporters.

Recent studies have also shown that approximately 80% of Rangers season ticket holders reside outside the city of Glasgow. Many non-Old Firm fans also point to the fact that large towns among West Central Scotland have many Old Firm supporters, even though their own towns have football teams, such as Hamilton Academical F.C., Airdrie United F.C., Motherwell F.C., Clyde F.C. (Cumbernauld), Kilmarnock F.C. and St Mirren F.C. (Paisley).

Many Old Firm fans reside in the Fife, even though this area has many local football teams, such as Dunfermline Athletic F.C., Raith Rovers F.C. and East Fife F.C.

There are also many Old Firm fans in the Scottish Borders, Edinburgh and Northern Ireland.

The majority of non-Old Firm teams always draw low crowds and on their home games against the Old Firm their fans are outnumbered most of the time.

Glory hunters in England

Manchester United have by far the most supporters of any English club, not only within England, but worldwide. This is due in part to their domestic and European success coming simultaneously with the introduction of televised European Cup football in the mid-1950s. Manchester United's second coming coincided with the huge increase in the amount of televised football due to the introduction of satellite broadcasting in the early 1990s. However, even in the years of minimal success, Manchester United had the highest attendances for the past 35 years, with the exception of one season in which Old Trafford was under construction.

In England in the 1980s, the dominance of Liverpool in Europe and the introduction of live league football gained Liverpool support from all over England, and the rest of the world. Both Liverpool and Manchester United have been able to exploit global markets to great success. With the amount of televised live matches ever increasing, added to the availability of replica shirts and other merchandise, the concept of 'the glory-hunter' has evolved. Football fans choose to publicly display their support more readily, regardless of their geographical proximity to the club of their affection.

Other clubs successful in England, such as Chelsea are trying to use business techniques to maximise their fanbase for financial gain.

'Glory hunters' are also common amongst smaller Football League and non-league sides who are involved in successful FA Cup runs. Small teams who progress to the latter stages of the competition usually find that their Cup games gain much larger attendances, out of proportion to their normal attendances. Typically, once the team is knocked out of the Cup, attendances fall back to their normal level. Whilst regular fans often look down on this, revenue from ticket and merchandise sales often helps to keep these smaller clubs in business.

Non league teams however can suffer from glory hunters in a different way. It is common for a person from a town to support their nearest most successful club as opposed to their actual town, for example a person from Gateshead supporting Newcastle United instead of their own club, Gateshead FC. Whereas Newcastle aren't a majorly successful club, they are higher in the league than Gateshead FC.

Glory hunters in France

In France, Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain FC have long been considered as the two French clubs with the most supporters. Olympique de Marseille gained important media attention and along with it an important number of glory hunters during the late 1980s and early 1990s when the club won successive titles including French Championships and One UEFA Champions League. Paris Saint Germain benefited from the fact that the club is owned by Canal+ which broadcasts the French Championship matches. French media also tend to give a lot of attention to the rivalry between these two clubs despite the fact that they have been unable to win major titles in the recent years.More recently, Olympique Lyonnais near total domination of the French Championship has attracted an important number of glory hunters.

Another 'gloryhunting' phenomenon in France is the one concerning the national football team. The successful French campaigns in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000 attracted an important amount of new supporters that had taken no or little interest in football before. This was also favoured by Adidas marketing strategy which centred on the French National Team. The derogatory term 'Footix', inspired by the name of the 1998 FIFA World Cup mascot, is usually used while speaking of these glory hunters.

Glory hunters in Malaysia and Singapore

It is normal for small countries like Malaysia and Singapore to have a group of glory hunters supporting more than one successful team. The glory hunters in Malaysia and Singapore are easily identified - often you can see them changing their allegiance to the top team at that time, as of this time most Malaysians and Singaporeans are Man Utd and Chelsea fans. When asked why do they support these teams, they will tell you "because these teams always win". A lot of the fans neither own an up-to-date original jersey, nor have they been to Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge. In Malaysia, the glory hunter is often labeled as "lalang" (weed), meaning that they shift to wherever the wind blows. (See also Operation Lalang)

Second Generation Glory Hunting

A second generation glory hunter is a term used towards people who are, or who are suspect to, supporting a successful football club although having no obvious affiliation with the team and giving their reason for supporting such team as it also being their fathers chosen team. Second generation glory hunters usually live outside the town where a particular team is from, and may, in fact, live in a different country altogether.

In other sports

While the term is almost always attributed to football, there is no reason why it cannot be applied to similar fans who follow other sports.

The practice of glory hunting is widespread in USA and Canada in a lot of sports, although it is rarely, if ever, deemed as glory hunting (they are usually called "fair-weather fans", "bandwagon fans", or "front-runners" in the U.S.). Hence, a lot of American fans of British or European soccer support whichever team they like - often inspired by current success - and give no second thought to any backlash they might receive from native Brits, and are surprised when they do. Currently, Chelsea are a popular English team with North Americans because of its stylish image and flash players. However, many fans intentionally choose less-successful teams (but rarely those in constant danger of relegation) to avoid this stigma. It should also be noted that this is not exclusively one-way: amongst non-Americans who develop an interest in one or more American sports, some of them will have developed a team loyalty based on recent accomplishments. In American football, fans, national and, especially, international, who got their first exposure to the game in the 1970s are often fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers or Miami Dolphins, given their track record in that decade; fans who first caught the game in the 1980s are often followers of the San Francisco 49ers, given their great success; fans who first saw the NFL in the 1990s are usually fans of the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos or Green Bay Packers. As for the 2000s, fans of the New England Patriots seem to have multiplied.

See also

* English football on television
* Bandwagon fan

External links

* [ a blog posting about Malaysian glory hunter]
* [ Celebrity Villains]
* [ A UK TV series about a professional glory hunter.]

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