The search for the ‘authentic’ football fan has a predominant place within the sociology of football literature. This relates specifically to the scholarly conceptualisation of ‘different’ fan types as researchers have attempted to explain the evolving nature of fandom practice in light of late-modern consumer culture and perceived authenticity claims. Such conceptual approaches to football fandom are useful enough to describe alternative modes of practice and yet they do not indicate how fans interpret and monitor authenticity at a cultural level. This paper aims to address this issue by drawing on the lived experiences of football fans to uncover the importance of lateral surveillance towards perceptions of authenticity. Findings indicate that authenticity is a site of internal contestation driven by codes of expected conduct and modes of surveillance.