85 games undefeated at Stamford Bridge, is it any wonder opposing teams are overawed by the bunch of Chelsea fans roaring down on them?

What’s wrong with the above sentence? Not factually wrong, but stylistically disappointing. If you could change one word which would it be?

I don’t know exactly when, but at some stage in the history of the English language a bunch of people got together and decided that we weren’t going to settle for the word ‘bunch’ any more. Bunch was too generic, too bland. What they wanted was a new word, or rather lots of new words to replace boring old ‘bunch’ depending on circumstance.

So that’s what they did. A bunch of people became a crowd (except when in church where they were a congregation), a bunch of cows became a herd and a bunch of sheep became a flock. Then, once they’d got a taste for it, they really got to work, conjuring up parliaments of owls and murders of crows, fish began hanging out in schools and geese moved from being in a gaggle on the floor, to a skein in the sky.

But then, just when they could have gone truly nuts and come up with, say, a muffin top of hippos, an A of bees, or even a slapstickle of prostitutes, they stopped. This was a shame, frankly, because whoever those guys were, they were doing a great job.

Now, in the 21st century we face a problem. On the one hand, we still prefer weird, unpredictable words to ‘bunch’, but on the other, we don’t have those guys around to come up with new terms anymore. Of course that’s not to say that there aren’t new bunches turning up. Just take a look at the bunches of football fans that congregate every week in support of their team.

These are legitimate bunches in search of new terminology, crying out to be named, and what’s more these are bunches that we actually witness once in a while. A parliament of owls? when was the last time you actually saw a parliament of owls? Unless of course we think back to 1999 when Sheffield Wednesday came to the Bridge.

So going back to that first sentence, why should we settle for the word bunch? Bunch is no good, bunch is bland. We want something altogether more spicy. Fortunately, I’ve taken five minutes out of my day to mull over some possible collective nouns for the various bunches of fans that we see amassing all over the country around football stadia and pubs with Setanta sport.

In no particular order:
a pride of Chelsea fans
a bastille of Arsenal fans
a vesuvius of Pompey
a gobfull of Everton fans
a winestain of Reds
a polaris world of Villa fans
a WHAM! of Cottagers

It has occurred to me that football fans also congregate under their national guise, in which case the likes of a smörgåsbord of Swedes and a slick of Greeks spring to mind, but then we get dangerously close to national stereotype, and we wouldn’t want that…

85 games undefeated at Stamford Bridge, is it any wonder opposing teams are overawed by the pride of Chelsea fans roaring down on them?

There we are, much better.