Superfans. The word is synonymous with tears, tantrums, round the world journeys and ultimate dedication. There isn't commitment like it. So what does it take to become a superfan, and how do those who worship at the altar of sport demonstrate their love and adulation?
Say It With Ink
If you won the lottery, how would you treat yourself?
Edinburgh teenager Jane Park knew exactly what she was after when she scooped £1 million two years ago.
First it was the obligatory wardrobe full of designer handbags and shoes. Secondly, of course, the Hibernian tattoo.
Yes you read that right.
During a summer holiday in Magaluf this summer, Jane chose to get ‘Hibs every weekend’ inked on her rib-cage.
In doing so, the 19-year-old joined a long, perhaps even too long, list of die-hard supporters who’ve declared their undying love for their side in the most permanent and everlasting manner.
The inkings on the likes of Keith ‘Beefy’ Roberts - whose ‘NUFC’ stomach tattoo was as prominent as it was portly, due to Beefy’s preference to watch the Toon topless – became iconic.
It also launched a weight-loss campaign in the north east. But still, the snaps of Beefy with his arms to the skies, shirt off and tattoo proudly rippling over his belly were, to many, the essence of superfandom: this club is me, and I’ll let you know that come rain or shine.
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In the lead up to Scotland’s appearance at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, renowned Glasgow businessman Jim Tait famously drew up plans to charter a Tartan Army submarine to travel to South America.
The die-hard football fan intended to sell tickets to 180 passengers at £595 for the return trip, covering his initial £40,000 outlay for the foreign vessel and an experienced crew.
His plans were, unfortunately, sunk when he was denied permission, but the story serves to illustrate the bonkers lengths fans will go to follow their team.
Going The Distance
Take the story from earlier this summer of the five Argentinian supporters who fitted a 1970s minibus with beds and even a toilet so they could drive more than 1,000 miles to Chile for the Copa America.
The supporters set off from Buenos Aires, and the journey took the best part of a week.
One of the men, Marcelo Gali, said: ‘For the Argentinian national team we’ll endure anything. We’ll follow them wherever they’ll go.’
Messi and co lost in the final, but the group – like any supporters bus – will remain undeterred. There is always, always a next time.
What's In A Name
Such a trip could, however, be difficult for other die-hards, the likes of those who’ve changed their names by deed poll in honour of their heroes – and now travel with a passport that seems like it’s been bought in some Bangkok back-alley.
Take Motherwell Football Club, for example. As in Motherwell Football Club the man, sorry, not the team.
Frazer Boyle officially changed his name when he was 20 as a symbol of his love for the Scottish club. A love which, self-admittedly, might be stronger than the feelings he had for his girlfriend.
‘She isn't too bothered,’ he said at the time, ‘but I'm not sure if she'd be happy maybe being known as Mrs Motherwell Football Club eventually.’