Win­ning ways

The ob­ses­sion with ‘three points’

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.