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The train to the match is one of the most beloved rituals for many football fans. The early starts, the card games, the mate who is always late – it’s all part of the tradition of British football.
With supporters making long journeys up and down the country to follow their teams, they normally need some sustenance – be it food or drink – to keep them going. Some beers, crisps, maybe even a bacon sandwich if you’re really looking to push the boat out.
But on their New Year’s Day trip down to Portsmouth, a group of Stevenage fans were pictured taking their pre-match meal to a whole new level. Unsurprisingly, the internet has not responded particularly well.
What did the Stevenage fans tuck into?
This was not your average train meal – the Stevenage fans put away a spread that you’d be more likely to see at your local upmarket restaurant.
Between them they had slices of cooked meats – chorizo, salami, ham – complemented by cubes of cheddar cheese, Le Rustique camembert, a wedge of Port Salut French cheese and even bunches of grapes.
All of this was enjoyed with a huge bag of Jacob’s Cream Crackers and, perhaps most questionably of all, an enormous trifle for dessert.
Each fan had their own foil tray to eat off of, and also had the option of paper plates and even wooden cutlery.
The supporters washed down their meal with a combination of Strongbow Dark Fruit and Kopparberg Strawberry and Lime ciders.
How did the internet react?
It did not take long for social media to become awash with opinions on the group’s upmarket food choices.
Luton Town fan Max James-Freeman did not mess around, posting that “Point deductions have been handed out for less.”
X (formerly Twitter) user @chorleyawaydays was on a similar page, saying that the group “deserve a three-match away ban for this behaviour” accompanied by the red card emoji.
@40plusbored joked “Careful what you say about these lads. It’s obvious from the photo that these fans are not to be trifled with!” in relation to the fans’ choice of dessert.
Whereas @Jsklen_face asked “They going to watch chess?”
The supporters’ choice of drinks was maybe even more controversial than what they had to eat, with @LovelyGeezer65 posting “The most offensive thing in this picture is the Strongbow Dark Fruit.”
Brighton and Hove Albion fan Richard Hazell is not a fan of berry-flavoured cider either, asking “Strongbow and charcuterie board. What has happened to the footballing world?”
When posh football food choices go viral on social media, it tends to be Fulham supporters who are the butt of the joke. Jon Ormondroyd, former Guardian football cartoonist and Cottagers fan, made reference to this, commenting that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Aston Villa supporter John Westwood was rather more succinct in his opinion: “The game’s gone,” he posted.
However, despite all of this criticism, the Stevenage supporters did have some praise from the commenters, including from fans of the team they were on their way to face.
Pompey fan Rebecca Eleanor said “Hi Stevenage fans. What train are you on as I would love to get involved?”
Leicester City fan Keith Miguel was also supportive, posting “Interesting combo here. Food is banging though.”
Stevenage’s controversial food history
The photo showed a portion of chips with a single, un-melted slice of American cheese placed on top, and for a short while the club became the laughing stock of social media.
The club later confirmed that the image was a hoax, posting “Many thanks to everyone for the cheesy chip tweets tonight. They’ve been entertaining but we camembert them any longer.
“Therefore, contrary to speculation, we can confirm that cheesy chips are not available in the away tea bar at The Lamex. Cheesy chips (not decorated with cheese from that pic) are only available in the East Terrace tea-bar and are priced at £2.50, not £4.”