Monday, April 13, 2009

We Support Our Local Team (kinda)

Being a Newcastle season ticket holder, I think it's fair to say we've had better years. Then again, I've supported this club long enough to know that just when everything seems to be going well, it's only a matter of time before there's another "finger through the toilet paper" moment. I'll leave the ins & outs of this for another time, it's been done to death by every man & his blog already. Newcastle's been in bad slumps before in my time, so it's not the situation itself that's worrying me. It's Apathy. When we've been in trouble before, people's blood has been boiling. There's been big queue's round St James's baying for the heads of those deemed responsible. There's none of that this time from a lot of people. People are simply fed up & have had enough. I've been a season ticket holder for 12 years now & I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when the renewal forms come through my door this summer. It's not that I'm not prepared to support a team in the championship, it's the fact that I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment. Sure, we've invested well in the youth teams, but we need players for now. All those talented players in the academy will be cherry picked by Premier League teams should we go down.

A good freind of mine, who is also a Newcastle Season ticket holder regularly goes to watch Whitley Bay FC in the Northern League (the 9th level of football in England, 5 tiers below League 2). It started for him a while back as something to do on a Saturday when Newcastle weren't playing, but he now gets down there as often as possible. They've had a pretty average season league wise, but they've gone on a great run in the FA Vase & now have a trip to Wembley on May 10th to look forward to. He's got that into it, he actually missed our home "game" with Chelsea on April 4th to go to the 2nd leg of the semi final. And do you know what? I can honestly really see the appeal. As well as being a Newcastle fan, I also support Greenock Morton in the Scottish 1st division. There's a lot to be said for going to smaller grounds to watch untelevised games. These ground more often than not have much more character than a lot of the big corporate ground these days. It's also a lot less frustrating knowing that the player that can't hit a cow's arse with a banjo isn't earning 3 times your annual salary for yet another piss poor performance. Mistakes you that at top level will leave you questioning the guys parentage, at lower level become "mistakes that anyone can make". I also like that no matter what happens at the ground, only the people that were there will ever get to see it, which leaves you with a pretty special feeling coming out the ground.

Even reserve games are worth looking at. Some of the best games I've ever seen have been reserve matches. Usually, teams consist of a mixture of young players hungry to get their shot in the first team or senior players not getting a game looking to prove a point. Occasionally you get a first team player that seems to think it's beneath him, but the majority of the time, the effort is very high & the quality of the game shows.

It doesn't just have to be football. I've been going to a lot of Basketball over the past couple of years. Admittedly it was initially down to a couple of the players being friends, but when you follow a few games, you can't help but getting into it. The fact that the players are all approachable when kids want stuff signed after a game probably helps too. There's plenty of other teams & sports that would be gratefull for your support.

Not that I'm suggesting giving up on your team. In Theory at least, staying through the lows is what makes the highs (when/if they come) that bit more special. But there's no harm in going elsewhere for something to cheer you up once in a while...

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