Throughout the world of sports, match day after match day, the most passionate and the craziest fan bases show up in full colours.
Whether it’s against a local rival or in a game that no longer has significance to the remainder of the season, these die-hard fans turn up in droves.
Without these enigmatic fan bases, sport wouldn’t be the same. Their character and commitment to everything that their team does creates atmospheres and inspires others to cheer on their teams.
So, here are some of the craziest and most passionate fan bases in sport.
Red Star Belgrade Ultras
Hidden away in Belgrade lies the Rajko Mitic Stadium – which has made so much noise that every football fan in Europe has heard of them. Every other week, the Serbian stadium fills with those loyal to Red Star Belgrade, known as the Delije.
These Serbian football ultras are notorious in Europe as being some of the most passionate and fearsome fans in the world.
Speaking of the Delije, Red Star Belgrade’s ultras firm often evokes images of violence and terrifying chanting crowds - and, from the outside, that’s certainly true. In Belgrade, football is a way of life, with every resident passionate about their football team.
Western media only tends to bring up Red Star Belgrade when violence occurs, and, unfortunately, that overlooks the revelry of match day, which is filled with noise and colour.
Seattle Seahawks 12s
Dressing up in the team’s colours is all well and good but, when the fan base joins together to cause a reading on the Richter scale, that’s something very special indeed.
Seattle Seahawks fans are notorious around the NFL for creating a deafening noise whenever the opposition’s offence is on the field. The hooting and jeering while the quarterback tries to make his count has earned the fan base the nickname ‘12s’ as they play as the 12th man in games at CenturyLink Field.
In an event now known as the ‘Beast Quake’, the cheering of the 12s was actually registered between one and three on the Richter scale by nearby seismometers. It was the 2011 Wild Card playoff game, and the New Orleans Saints had surged to close Seattle’s hefty lead to just four points.
But, then, on Seattle’s 33-yard line, the home team Seahawks decided to run the ball. Marshawn Lynch, known as “Beast Mode”, took the ball, shrugged off multiple tackles, and scored a touchdown to the elation of the Seahawks crowd.
2011 isn’t the only time that the 12s have rocked the Richter scale; they do it quite regularly. Thanks to how the stadium’s roof is set up, the sound made by the fans echoes back down, helping to cause seismic activity.
They also once held the record for being the loudest fan base in the USA, registering at 137.6 decibels (at take off, a jet plane registers at 150.0 decibels). The 12s will be cheering from their homes for their opening day game, for which the Seahawks are at EVENS to defeat the Denver Broncos.
Lech Poznan Ultras
Back to Eastern Europe – more specifically, Poland – we go for another incredibly rowdy and passionate fan base of football fans. Their celebration is unmistakable, while their passion during matches is almost unrivalled.
During every game at the Municipal Stadium in Poznan, you will see Lech Poznan ultras fill the Tribune I stand. The three tiers will always be covered with blue and white banners with hundreds of fans colour co-ordinated by tier – blue shirts in tier two, white shirts in tier one.
Most impressively about Lech Poznan's dedication to their mighty fan base is that they’ve erected a platform in front of the stand.
On this platform stands two drummers and some who effectively act as the fan conductor. He sets in motion the chants, fist pumps, scarf waving, confetti throwing and, indeed, the famous celebration.
When the Lech Poznan fans turn around link arms, the stand begins to rumble as they bounce around and chant. It’s an incredible spectacle, and one of the most co-ordinated acts of madness at any football match.
The celebration is so iconic that Manchester City, now 7/10 to win the Premier League next season, adopted it.
England’s Barmy Army
England may have become famous for its firms of football hooligans in the 1970s and 1980s but it’s the nation’s cricket fan base which comes in as the most passionate and maddest of all English sports fan groups.
Everywhere they go, people always know, who they are…
From the outside and even on television, cricket – especially test cricket – comes off a rather peaceful game between two sets of gentlemen or ladies ready to battle over many days, and take their time doing so. But, when you go to an England cricket game, at home or away, you’ll hear the Barmy Army in full voice.
The Barmy Army sets up trips to watch England play cricket all over the world; they fill the streets, bars, and the majority of a stand when they turn up.
En route to the venue and during the game, you’ll hear them all bellowing their chant and beating the drums, regardless of the time of day or score. The stereotype of cricket fans being somewhat snobby and tranquil couldn’t be further from the truth of the Barmy Army.
When it comes to seeing the Barmy Army in full force, the Ashes tests between England and Australia are when they get the most passionate. For the next Ashes, England is at 27/20 to win, which will only spur these rowdy fans on even more.
Oakland Raiders’ Raider Nation
Often voted as having the nicest jerseys in the NFL, the Oakland Raiders fans instead turn those into terrifying pieces of attire as they gather at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum.
Raider Nation is made up of mad fans, to put it simply. The southern stand of the stadium is known as the ‘Black Hole’ as it is filled with the most hostile fans in the league.
These fans all don the black jersey of the Raiders, as well as silver and black face paint, plastic swords, Mad Max-type armour, silver chains, horns, and skulls.
When the league voted to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas – commencing 2020 – the biggest outcry came from fellow NFL fans who felt Raider Nation had been very hard done by.
These incredibly passionate, borderline crazy fans would no longer have a team. Luckily, they have another season to send off their team and are 59/50 to defeat the Los Angeles Rams at home in their first game of next season.
Boca Juniors Fans
In Argentina, football is huge. In fact, it’s bigger than huge; it’s everything. There’s no doubt that the nation is already buzzing for the World Cup, which Argentina is 11/1 to win. But, the biggest and most notoriously passionate fan base in the country is that of Boca Juniors.
An ocean of blue and yellow shirts, flares, smoke and streamers fill the La Bombonera in each home game. Fans go crazy for each goal and bring down a tirade of boos for anything done against their team.
However, the Boca Juniors fan base couldn’t have reached such a height of fame in the sporting world if it wasn’t for their arch-rivals.
The battle between Boca Juniors and River Plate is a national event in Argentina, which sees two incredibly passionate fan bases collide. While the events of the game often cause clashes between the two groups, it’s the pre-match actions that always heat up the atmosphere.
The two fan groups pull tricks against each other in the running to the huge derby game. From derogatory poster campaigns to insulting in-stadium inflatables, the fan bases go all-out to let the opposition know that they are hated. Then, there’s the atmosphere during the games, which is both electrifying and terrifying at the same time.
From football to cricket, and all the way over to American football, the world of sport boasts some truly spectacular fan bases. Deem it to be passion or craziness; these fans don’t care: they just want their team to win.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*