In this article, we critically assess a common discourse of the football fan as hooligan, with the help of insights generated from a linguistic ethnography of football fan behaviour in one of their natural environments – the football stadium during a live match. Football fans have long been stereotypically understood through notions of hooliganism, with violent and aggressive behaviour frequently identified as a marker of this social group. However, researchers like Gary Armstrong have begun to problematize these discourses, claiming that only a tiny minority of football fans are in fact violent. In this article, we contribute to these efforts by drawing on insights gathered from a linguistic ethnography of football fans at an English, League 1 professional football club – Burton Albion Football Club. Researchers collected over 10 h of observational data, primarily in the form of field notes that documented all manner of fan behaviour – including songs, talk directed at players on the field, interactions amongst fans, reactions to on field events – across different sections of the stadium. The findings not only challenge the stereotypical notion of the football fan as hooligan, but they also highlight distinct subcultures being constructed within the same stadium through different behavioural tendencies and expectations regarding acceptable behaviour. These findings not only illustrate that the view of football fans as hooligans is uncritical and unsophisticated, but that our broader understanding of football fans is under theorized. Empirical insights of the kind provided by linguistic ethnographic work can help to challenge unchecked discourses about football fans that are perpetuated without a well-founded evidence base and help locate new dimensions for studying this important group of people in the wider football landscape.