In Europe, following a football team can be a lot like gaining another sibling. You even see in places like Argentina, where money is scarce, people will come out to see their team and live every moment of their season no matter what. And that statement is never truer if you support a team in the lower leagues that may be seen as ‘unfashionable’, when comparing them to the likes of Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. Yet because the team isn’t ‘successful’ in any way, that doesn’t mean passion is any less in quantity, and some would argue that these fans have more commitment and feelings for their club.
If you have read some of my past articles, you will know I follow Newcastle United; a team with a rather large fan base considering the club hasn’t won any silverware since 1969. Considering recent events in the past few seasons, they may no longer appear to be a team that could draw a neutral supporter in yet despite troubles and relegation to the Championship, the club still has an average attendance that is larger than a lot of Premiership teams and has just about sold every away ticket up for grab this season. The Geordies love their club, I love my club; the team is central to the city and football is in the blood of people from the North East. Yet a lot of people don’t understand the supporters and I’ve heard a lot of people criticize how at times the fans lack insight and can even be some times ignorant. I’ve always stood up for my fellow Geordies, but i’m struggling this time.
I was listening to Toon Talk, which is a call in forum for all things Newcastle United, and I had to write in myself so I could get a point across which was met with agreement by the hosts and something that a lot of other people had realised too. To bring you to the point, here are some facebook status’ by ‘loyal’ followers who I am friends with after some of Newcastle’s recent games:
‘yet another crap display of football.’
‘Newcastle… You are an embarrassment!’
‘Wey what a waste of me time watching the toon, yet again dissapointing!’
That’s just three of the people I know (I won’t state names) who apparently were not too happy with some of Newcastle’s recent performances. Newcastle have been on a poor run of late, no doubt about that, yet statements like the above I find ludicrous. Yes the team hasn’t been getting win after win like we were earlier in the season, but as things stand we are top of the table and we’ve managed to do that with a squad that is a bit on the short side (albeit we’ve been blessed with injuries in the first half of the season). Please do not take this as me attacking all the Newcastle fans, I know for a fact that the majority of fans (as you can find out listening to Toon Talk) are realists and won’t jump on the teams back at the first time of asking.
Now I hear an abundance of people who are complaining at some of the signings we are making, saying they’re just ‘average’ championship players. Leon Best has been targeted by some and already written off as a poor piece of business. This is one of the worst aspects of football I believe – the fans that will write players off before they’ve even had a chance. I won’t judge Best until I’ve seen him in black and white stripes and I believe he is a great signing for the level we are at. Some of these fans have delusions that we should be getting the big names in and singing players for the Premiership. We are in the Championship and we’ve made six great signings that will add to our already impressive team. On the same day as signing Best we have got rid of Geremi – an awful acquisition who was bought more on reputation than ability and someone who had a hefty wage. In hindsight Newcastle United paid £700,000 for a player who was my hero when I first started supporting the Toon – Rob Lee. If a similar signing was made today I’m pretty sure these part time supporters would lambaste the decision as an aberration to the clubs ambition.
Like I said before, I am not saying this accounts for the whole of the Toon faithful, only a minority that will talk the talk and turn up to the odd home game when they can be bothered. If you’re passionate about your team you will know the type of fan I’m talking about for your team. It goes for all football clubs, every team has supporters like this – I only singled out Newcastle because they are my team and it’s something that has become apparent recently. The real supporters, the travelling away fans (and the level 7 corner at St. James!), will follow their team with all their heart and usually wish the best for every player and will focus more on the teams success than potential downfalls. The likes of those mentioned as deluded in this article are the sort of people that will leave the game 10 minutes early to ‘beat the traffic’ or if their team is 0-3 down. I’m not saying you have to be a fanatic – just not to be so negative without cause.
Some times optimism isn’t an option (take Portsmouth for example at the moment – I’m pretty sure no one would deny one of their fans having a moan at the current situation) but let’s face it – we’re top of the league by four points.
Less complaining – more backing the team!