What fans de­mand

STEVE CUM­BER says that foot­ball sup­port­ers take a dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude at the match than they do any­where else…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The list is ex­ten­sive...

For many years in a pre­vi­ous life I used to work at Heathrow Air­port. We had a tongue-in-cheek say­ing which most of us sub­scribed to – the air­port would run per­fectly smoothly if it wasn’t for the pas­sen­gers! I’m firmly of the be­lief that those folk who run foot­ball clubs, at what­ever level they are at, have a sim­i­lar say­ing,“This club would run ab­so­lutely fine if it wasn’t for those damn sup­port­ers.” Sup­port­ers are, of course, the lifeblood of the club and with­out us there would be lit­tle or no point in the club ex­ist­ing. We are, how­ever, with­out ex­cep­tion, to­tally un­rea­son­able in our de­mands and ir­ra­tional in our re­quire­ments. Sup­port­ers de­mand things at foot­ball matches that they would not do any­where else in their lives. And what on earth at­tracts us here any­way? What makes us come and stand in what is ef­fec­tively a freez­ing cold field on a Tues­day night to watch a foot­ball match against a team from a small town three coun­ties away? And don’t think that just be­cause many clubs now have sup­port­ers in the board­room that this makes life eas­ier for those run­ning the club. On the con­trary, be­cause they rep­re­sent the man on the ter­races, the true sup­porter, rather than flash in the pan money men, we feel that we can make even more out­ra­geous de­mands of them, be­cause as sup­port­ers they know that we must be right and will not have ul­te­rior mo­tives.

So, what are those de­mands ? Well, any player that plays for us must have a very high skill level and must use that skill all of the time. He must know the best ball to play in ev­ery cir­cum­stance. He must never play a bad ball.

He must be pre­pared to put in 100 per cent ef­fort at ev­ery mo­ment of the game. He should never lose a tackle. No-one should ever be booked or sent off.

It doesn’t mat­ter if his track record in all of th­ese ar­eas isn’t as good as it should be. When he plays for OUR team, he must be on top of his game at all times. And when he leaves our club, his form must per­ma­nently dip, so that we can sanc­ti­mo­niously say “ah, we had the best of him”.

Our keeper must be a bril­liant shot-stop­per and cross-taker. The cen­tre-half should take no pris­on­ers. The full-back should al­ways be able to dou­ble up as a fly­ing winger.

A mid­fielder with­out bat­tle scars and flow­ing blood from his wounds at the end of the game is frankly poor. Any for­ward who gets less than 40 goals in a sea­son just isn’t try­ing.

And don’t think that if you are a sub­sti­tute you are ex­empt from th­ese de­mands. Sub­sti­tutes must be al­most su­per­hu­man, able to come on at a mo­ment’s no­tice, adapt to the pace of the game im­me­di­ately and in­flu­ence its out­come within min­utes. Only on for five min­utes right at the end – you’re not ex­cused ei­ther – five min­utes is plenty long enough to turn any match around.

The man­ager, too, must be a master tac­ti­cian, a su­perb coach, a supreme se­lec­tor of play­ers and have an en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of the trans­fer mar­ket.

Ev­ery one of his sub­sti­tu­tions must be ex­actly the right player at the right time, with the right player com­ing off.

And as for the ref­eree and his as­sis­tants – you don’t need me to tell you that you have no room for er­ror at all. You all have to have the wis­dom of Steven Hawking, the tough­ness of Vin­nie Jones and the diplo­matic skills of Don­ald Tusk.

Any­thing less than the eye­sight of the Ter­mi­na­tor and you’re in trou­ble. If you do book one of our play­ers then you must com­pen­sate for this by book­ing at least three of theirs, even if there is no rea­son to do so.

But what of the non-com­bat­ants. The match an­nouncer must get ev­ery name of ev­ery player ab­so­lutely cor­rect ev­ery time, even if we sign Mon­go­lian in­ter­na­tional cap­tain Bayas­galangiin Garid­mag­nal.

The guy sell­ing us a golden goal or 50:50 ticket must sell us a win­ner at least six times per sea­son. The teabar must serve the high­est stan­dard of food pos­si­ble at the low­est pos­si­ble price.

And woe be­tide the man pin­ning up the teamsheet if he’s late bring­ing it out or there’s a mis­take on it.

In fact, the only man ex­empt from any de­mands at all is the physio, and that’s be­cause we know that at any time we might need his or

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