THE one thing I have always loved about being a football fan is the culture of following your team.

The day out with mates, be it by coach or train, for an away day sometimes miles across the length and breadth of the country only to witness a dismal defeat is hard to beat.

Those defeats never stopped us enjoying the day out and the rivalry with those of a different persuasion in the home ends.

We had original songbooks on the terraces, were able to stand alongside friends and enjoy a beer pitchside and relatively low costs watching our boys on the road were par for the course.

What do we have now? High ticket prices and all-seater stadia making life difficult to get groups of mates together, no alcohol in sight of the partially synthetic pitches and no originality in songs.

If I have heard one club sing a tune to Achy, Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus or September by Earth, Wind and Fire then I have heard them all.

Even the modern stadia lack character – you may as well be at some generic Meccano-style pop-up ground with the same canned crowd noise on repeat and just insert team or best player’s name in aforementioned song.

It’s not like Burnden, The Dell or Vetch Field used to be. And don’t even get me started on those pitiful half-and-half scarves outside.

Just what are they all about? I can half understand it when teams play European sides as a gesture of friendship but when you see people walking around Anfield or Old Trafford with half Liverpool, half Manchester United scarves wrapped around their neck you realise the world has gone bonkers.

Do these tourists and day-trippers not realise the traditional rivalries we have in English football? What next...half Tory, half Labour scarves on General Election day?

There may be some out there who think I’m just turning into a grumpy old fan early, particularly after my rant about VAR and technology last week.

You could be right about my grumpiness but it stems from the loss of traditional fan culture more than advances in the actual game.

When clubs are asking fan groups how to improve atmosphere at their grounds, you know there is a problem.

The best way to start is get rid of those scarves and get back to wearing your own club’s colours alone and be proud of the identity of supporting a team. And we don’t need redesigned club crests for that, Leeds United.

Next is to make it as cheap as is financially viable for younger fans to get into the grounds with their friends rather than make it a military operation or force them to attend with an adult for a cheaper ticket price

Clubs need to remember these are the season ticket holders of the future. Get them involved at a young age and reap the rewards later.

Lastly let’s ban phone-ins, brass bands, fan TV and elaborate new-player announcements on social media.

Let’s get back to actually supporting the teams by singing spontaneously, not driven by a chorus leader, post-goal music or some orchestrated social media campaign. We did it in the past off our own backs, we can do it again.

Let’s have no more slagging off on Twitter or Facebook, just discussions in the pub afterwards between like-minded fans all wanting the same.

In short, let’s just follow the team in an old-school way and take the rough with the smooth – not reach for the mobile as we walk out of the ground.

After all, the clue is in the word – ‘support’-er.