A North Melbourne looks on after the Kangaroos go down by a point to Adelaide Crows. (Photo: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media)

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I would imagine the answer would be reasonably simple for anyone who does not support Collingwood, but which team would be the worst to follow?

While those non-Magpies would possibly opt for the black and whites for the reason of never wanting to be a part of that army, but from an exasperation viewpoint, from a frustration side of things, which team would be the most painful to be a fan of?

For most of us, the reality is we don’t have a choice. We are born into a family of Pie lovers, or Swan supporters, or Demon devotees, and if you don’t like that team, then you may be asked to find another family.

For others, the decision is usually made during childhood, and the team you select is your team for a lifetime, through good and bad, joy and despair, heartbreak and adulation.

At the moment, for some footy fans, there is a lot less good, joy, and adulation than bad, despair and heartbreak.

Still as a fan you stick solid, regardless of how painful it may be. So which band of fans are suffering the most at the moment?

Is it Kangaroos fans? Heartbreak followed by heartbreak followed by … you get the picture.

Last week the shattering one-point choke against Adelaide, a loss which now accompanies losses of two points to West Coast, three points to Hawthorn, and four points to Geelong.

But, while it is presently gut-wrenching I’m sure, North have been in the finals six times since the turn of the century, and won their last flag only back in 1999.

What about being a St Kilda fan? They haven’t celebrated a flag win since the only one in the club’s history back in 1966, but they are used to long dry spells as it took 70 years to win that first one.

And now it seems the latest Saints’ premiership window, which had been slowly closing, has been slammed shut as the side sits among the also-rans near the bottom of the ladder.

This comes after the worst kind of disappointment in 2009, and then even worse in 2010.

Sure the Saints fans had the high of making a grand final, but to firstly lose by a small margin to Geelong in 2009, then to come as close as possible without winning in 2010’s draw, only to be thumped by Collingwood in the replay.

Coming so close then to now be back in the pack … is that worse than following a team that is constantly a disappointment?

Like say Melbourne?

The Demons are … well it’s hard to describe exactly how they are at present without using profanities. Let’s just say, they are pretty bad at the moment.

Just five wins in their past 31 games, just one win in nine matches this season and that was against new boys GWS Giants. The Demons’ average losing margin in 2013 is 12 goals.

They have won 12 premierships, but the last did come way back in 1964, seven years before current coach Mark Neeld was born.

Still, all current team members were alive when the Dees last reached a grand final, losing to the Bombers in 2000, and they have been in the finals four times since.

What about being a Footscray/Western Bulldogs supporter? Theirs is the longest current drought in AFL history, now standing at 58 seasons since they won their only flag back in 1954. And in that time, just one grand final appearance and that was way, way back in 1961.

And those fans know about the heartbreak of near misses. Preliminary finalists – one win away from the Big Dance – in 2008 and again in 2009 and once more in 2010. But nothing.

That premiership window is now nailed shut, but their fans are at least smiling this week with last weekend’s win – only their second in the past 20 matches – over St Kilda.

Or perhaps it is toughest being a fan of the Tigers?

So often threatening to be ‘the big improver’ at the start of numerous seasons, yet consistently disappointing those making the predictions. Again this year they were tipped to be the major movers.

Three wins to start the year, followed by three losses. Two more wins from the past three to sit them just outside the eight, but clearly a way to go to be among the real contenders.

They did win a flag in 1980, and then made the grand final in 1982, but in the 30 years since, only twice have Richmond been back to the finals.

But back to the original question, and which fan would you not want to be at the moment?

None of the aforementioned fans have enjoyed too much joy in recent times, but that’s what being a footy fan is all about.

Riding out those hard times, no matter how torturous they seem, to make the good times even sweeter … as long as the good times do eventually arrive.

Just remember that old saying during those tough times: “Tis better to have cheered and lost, than never to have cheered at all.”

Michael Cowley spent more than 20 years covering sport for the Sydney Morning Herald, including 12 seasons as the paper's AFL writer. During that time he reported on the awful Swans of the 1990s, and then the successful teams of the past decade, including covering their premiership seasons of 2005 and 2012. You can find him on Twitter: @mick_cowley
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