Friday, November 14, 2008
BEST SUPPORTERS .....
As a long time supporter of a lower league club, I always take great interest in the away support at televised games from outside the top flight.
It is all very well to get huge support in the Premiership, but I wonder how the support of these "big" clubs would hold up after 4-5 years outside the top flight. Manchester City did very well in League 2, as have Leeds and Leicester, but we really need to see how they will do, if they have to endure another 3-4 years out of the limelight. Newcastle are always put up as a shining example of committed support to their club, but I have been to St James' Park once, just before Keegan's first reign (when he still had a full afro) and there were "only" 14,000 in the ground.
I have to give special mention to the Sheffield Wednesday supporters, they are approaching a decade outside the top flight, but have continued to pull in the crowds, averaging over 22,ooo week after week, even in the third tier of the Football League and always travel in large numbers.
However, these are all big name teams, I take more pleasure from seeing the 30-40 hardy souls that have taken a half day off work to travel 600 miles and watch their team in a meaningless away game, which will mean getting home at 3 am and up for work three hours later. A season or two ago I watched (on television) Torquay United - Accrington Stanley play just such an evening game, there were about 25 Stanley diehards behind the goal, maybe it was a small coach load. But these guys must have left Manchester at midday and were unlikely to arrive home before 4-5am. Now, that's commitment.
I was reminded of that last night, when Stanley's fans who probably numbered no more than 200-300 in a very low crowd at Tranmere , gave their team incredible support. Despite losing 1-0 they were still singing at 90 minutes, into injury time and even after the team had left the pitch, continuing during their coach's on pitch post match interview and for all I know, are probably still there now. To be honest, that is what I love about football it gets into your blood and why it is so much more fun to support a lower level team, you actually feel part of your club and the odd bit of success, always tastes so much sweeter.............. Red Army !