Monday 19 November 2001

You can tell a lot about a football team from its celebrity fans.

The same way you can tell a lot about a film from the stars who turn out to the premier, a fashion show from the A-list faces sitting by the catwalk, a basket ball team from the celebs courtside or an album launch party from it's guestlist.

Take hot new band The Strokes, their gigs attracted cool faces about town like Kate Moss, Jude Law and Jarvis Cocker - hip, trendy and terribly cool. Wheras I recall going to a party a few years ago where the most famous attendee was Uri Geller - cheesy, way uncool, makes his living, whether with spoons or minds, as a bender - to launch an album by Peter Andre.

The celebs who give their support publicly reveal everything you need to know... the current level of a team's popularity, whether they're arriving at or departing from their peak and, importantly, an insight into their character.

Today's visitors Newcastle boast PM Tony Blair among their fans. Suggesting an incredible public popularity, despite the fact that they've not been particularly effective over the last few years or fulfilled any of their promises. The second most famous Geordie fans are Ant & Dec of music TV show fame. Known for their sense of humour and teamwork, they attract massive, loyal audiences every Saturday, regardless of the rubbish they often play.

At Fulham, we have Hugh Grant. That most quintessentially English of actors, perculiarly suitable for the unique charm of Craven Cottage. (Oh, and Nick 'Nasty Nick' Bateman - but Chelsea have Bubble so we'll call it quits!)

Tony, Ant, Dec and Hugh are all local lads and lifelong supporters - whereas the fickle, shallow and temporary world of the music business gives an even greater insight.

It's no great surprise, for example, that in recent years there's a long list of fame-hungry, wannabe singers and DJs from around the UK (including several of Hear'say, Spice Girls, Atomic Kitten and Zoe Ball) who all claim to support Manchester United.

Like United, they're all young, good-looking, successful - and, like the team, we can only hope all their careers will be down the dumper too when Alex Ferguson leaves.

A look at our various London rivals and their musical support reveals a lot about their status:

Fans: S Club 7, All Saints and Five

West Ham
Fans: Keith Flint (The Prodigy), members of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, Phill Jupitus

Fans: Emma Bunton, Phil Collins, Status Quo, Chas'n'Dave, Simon Mayo

Fans: Alan and Steve White (Oasis and Paul Weller drummers)

Fans: Sarah Cracknell (St Etienne) and The Bluetones

Wendy James (Transvision Vamp) and Robert Smith (The Cure)

Bryan Adams, Suggs, Damon Albarn, John Major and Ted Rogers

The insights are obvious: Arsenal wishes it was the Man United of the South. You wouldn't want to mess with West Ham fans. Spurs is the dullest, most-mainstream, unexciting team in London. Charlton are only supported by drummers. Brentford are anonymous underachievers. QPR's best days are long gone. And Chelsea... well, they're responsible for 'Everything I Do', Channel 5's 'Night Fever' and Gorillaz. (I know John Major and Ted '3-2-1' Rogers aren't in music. But it underlines the point.)

We, of course, have Michael Jackson. Who provided the most surreal moment in a pretty surreal five years for Fulham fans. Not only did his appearance underline the ambition and standing of the club. But what would his, reported, continued interest reveal about FFC?

Well, we're a club who's face has changed dramatically over recent years. And importantly, from the late 80s he was famous for being 'Bad'. His new record's titled 'Invincible'. Go figure!

Thanks to the dozens of responses so far in the search for inspired Fulham terrace song suggestions. The best will appear here in the Everton programme, so send your chants to: fulhamsongs@nme.com