The obsession with ‘three points’
ISUPPORT a team in the Premier League and over the past six years I have witnessed first-hand the atmosphere draining from the stands around the ground.
Coming from a working class background in Northern Ireland, making the journey across the pond to see my team was a privilege I wasn’t granted until my 18th birthday.
The magic of walking down the road in the build-up to a game, and the spine-tingling feel as the stadium came into view that first time is something that I will never forget, and something that has hit me time and time again with every visit.
However, it is the atmosphere inside the stadium that leaves me wanting, and has done so on more occasions than I care to remember.
My team’s success – I won’t say which one – has rocketed over the last ten years; therefore it is no surprise that their fan base has become an international one. With increasing prices for tickets (the average Premier League ticket costs about £60 to see them play), I fear it is increasingly unaffordable for the fans who were, as the song goes, ‘There when we were sh*t’.
They spent their hard-earned money supporting the club during the uncertain years when winning a trophy was an historic and rare achievement.
Speaking to some of these ‘original’ fans, I’ve been told they can no longer afford the ‘ridiculously high prices’ being asked for a ticket, but this is of no concern to the club because it doesn’t hurt them where it hurts so many of its fans – their pockets.
So a local lad can’t afford £63 for a ticket? There is a fan who is travelling from Europe or beyond who will pay that and more to see them play. With the arrival of these ‘fans’ comes the expectation of entertainment and, ultimately, success.
I think the main problem comes in this obsession with winning. In the Premier League, every game becomes a
must-win, the pressure is on the players, the manager, and it comes directly from us fans, pundits and the media.
The panic button is struck every time something doesn’t go according to plan. For me, the joy has been taken out of watching our teams playing football, now we only want to watch our team winning at football.
God forbid, should they struggle along to a goalless draw, or actually concede a goal. That is the time to sit down and show our silent disgust. As long as the clubs have a full stadium, and the revenue from these ticket sales, atmosphere is secondary.
More than anyone, I want to see my side win every game and, as much of an impossibility as that is, it still hurts so much when we lose any game in any competition.
The bitter taste often lasts for days depending on which team we lose to but I like to think that, even in defeat, I am steadfast in my support for the club.
Standing in one of the country’s once most notoriously noisy stands, I have felt deflated time and time again while fans around me sit silently as my team struggle to hit top form on the pitch – the time when
they most need the support. The old cliché of supporting your team through the good and bad is very relevant, and through the bad times is when we find out our own, and others’, loyalty towards the club.
However, absent vocal support is becoming a common feature even during the good times.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the stadium when my team lifted the Premier League trophy. At one point during the match, I was asked to sit down by a man sitting behind me! We were on the brink of winning the ‘best league in the world’ and I was being asked to sit down. Nothing exemplifies the fading of the diehard football fan quite like this.
It is times like that where my admiration for the Dortmund fans continually grows. Despite their troubles on the pitch this season, their fans remain committed and passionate about the club, and in support of their manager. Their unwavering love is epitomised by a banner, ‘You led us to the good times, we will take you through the crisis’.
They have it sussed. Maybe in the English game we can learn from their example and make football, not success, our obsession once again.