The Guy Behind

by Ashley Lawrence

Hundreds of players and managers have come and gone since then, and I’ve sat and stood in many a stand in many a ground, but TGB has remained a constant part of the matchgoing experience.

Anyone who’s ever attended a game of football at any level will be familiar with the concept of The Guy Behind (TGB). 

He (and let’s face it, it is almost always men who feel the need to ensure everyone within earshot is privy to their pearls of wisdom, as so brilliantly demonstrated by this brutal takedown of a tweet) comes in all shapes and sizes, but there are certain universal characteristics that define the role. You must be loud, you must be opinionated and you must have an unshakeable confidence that you and you alone have the solutions to your team’s problems.

My first TGB experience came in the mid-90s when I sat in the West Stand and watched a truly terrible side week in, week out, with the reliable accompaniment of “ANDERTON” being yelled in frustration at regular intervals. There would then invariably follow a diatribe of mammoth proportions covering every issue at the club from the boardroom to the tearoom. This being Spurs in the 90s, it was often difficult for anyone to disagree, but nevertheless, it did start to grate after a while.

Hundreds of players and managers have come and gone since then, and I’ve sat and stood in many a stand in many a ground, but TGB has remained a constant part of the matchgoing experience.

We all aspire to be pictures of Zen-like serenity in the face of adversity, but life rarely goes quite as planned and the challenge of TGB is that the very nature of his role means he is only there when things are going badly and emotions are already liable to run high.

The third goal goes in, the players’ heads drop, the fans with itchy feet start to calculate just how much longer they need to hang around and it’s at that moment, like clockwork, that TGB strikes. “How is he still in this team?” “Well this has been coming all season” “Sell the lot of them”

It’s at that precise moment where the less strong-willed amongst us feel our blood boil. As if it weren’t enough to see any hope of salvaging a result disappear, we are now having to put up with a stranger with a direct line into our earhole telling us that things are, in fact, even worse than we feared.

The problem now though is that TGB is no longer confined to the stadium. He’s everywhere. On our radios for the drive home, on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, in our WhatsApp groups. Wherever you turn, there’s TGB, ready and waiting with the latest dose of piping hot pessimism.

Alas, this is no self-help guide, I have no magic formula that will prevent TGB from digging his claws into your fragile psyche. On the contrary, I must confess that on Tuesday night I succumbed to my foulest urges and broke the cardinal rule of TGB, I bit back.

The details matter not, but suffice it to say it did not end with hugs and smiles all round. Neither of us were enriched by our encounter and I’ve no doubt there were many in the surrounding area who would have preferred it if we’d both kept our mouths firmly shut.

And it was that thought that led me to reach something approaching an epiphany. When we all return to our safe places and bemoan The Guy Behind to our nearest and dearest, how can we be sure that others do not speak of us in these same disparaging tones? Because for each The Guy Behind, there must, by definition, be The Guy In Front. And while each of us may be cast in the leading role in our own life stories, we are but bit part players in the lives of the fans we sit and stand behind on a weekly basis.

And so it must be that there is but one sure way to truly protect yourself from the unwanted input of The Guy Behind. 

Sit on the back row.

Disclaimer

All views and opinions expressed in this article are the views and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of The Fighting Cock. We offer a platform for fans to commit their views to text and voice their thoughts. Football is a passionate game and as long as the views stay within the parameters of what is acceptable, we encourage people to write, get involved and share their thoughts on the mighty Tottenham Hotspur.

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