From the Terraces…
Now, my favoured level of football spectatorship is the English Championship.
You’re still able to tackle, hunger and desire is in abundance and your ticket will almost certainly be under 30 quid. To satisfy any further objection to the Championship level you can genuinly purchase a ticket right up to matchday, give or take a few choice fixtures.
There, you’re sold and the pipedream of Premiership football, the mecca of all that is good and wanted is merely a glitch on the true supporters matchday experience. That said we all want our club to play amongst the countries and perhaps europes elite. The talismen, the Ronaldo’s, the messi’s, and to watch our fearless managers ply their nowse and energy into competing and plotting against the worlds finest coaches.
When the team i support (Queens Park Rangers) were promoted in 2012 all was set for what would be a rollercoaster ride to end all rollercoaster rides, the Liverpools, the Manchester clubs and of course our old arch enemies the Chelsea. I must say i was excited and very much looking forward to watching my team on Match of the Day after years of anguish and floundering in the lower levels of English football. Some of those days being extremely depressing, like donating your pocket money into a bucket to fund the club through the next week of existence. Also being the brunt of humiliation when your club announces that it’ll take up a new name and amalgimate with other sporting sectors to be renamed the Rangers Sharks (or something to that effect).
Yes, Football as we well know is a money game and achieving Premiership status if nothing else alliviates the purse strings and allows for the odd superstar to brandish his name upon your teams back, glory days, oh the glory days.
I recall calling up for tickets to watch a premium A class game and being quoted 120 britsh pounds for two tickets. Hence the radio commentry coming to my aid. Priced out of the market and the stadium given up to prawn sandwich goers and the more affluent supporter. Theres nothing to be said as the game has been going this way for years and supporters who earn a modest wage have to find other ways and means to show support. Typically targeted as the armchair supporter, the terminology now becoming a divide between what is touted as being real and genuine supporters.
I wont go into one internet post suggesting that geographic residence should also determine your team. Each to their own in the mingled affair of football supporting.
Anyway, it brings me along nicely to the point of this article, From the terraces…
Priced out of watching my now elite football club, star studdied and supported by new fans i was led into a darkened wood by a friend who made the suggestion that i spend most Tuesday nights and the odd Saturday watching and supporting his local team, that being Tooting and Mitcham Football Club.
I took him up on the offer and was soon being driven at speed in an Orange Ford Focus RS down the A3 to Mitcham. I have had more glamarous moments in my life, however this seemed appropriote being the Father to a new child and money being at a premium, i followed and was led into Non-League football.
It wasnt my first taste of Non-League, me and my friends used to spend our pocket money watching the likes of Sutton United and Carshalton Athletic, I myself gracing the pitch playing for Colliers Wood (yes as far as my football career went). However, this new adventure had a new meaning, i had come face to face with the new aged Premier League and i didnt like it.
Where to start…
I vividly remember being very excited for the Sky Sports broadcast of Manchester United Vs Queens Park Rangers one sunny afternoon in Manchester. I’d set up my stool in the living room, graced with a few cans of Carlsberg and Salted Peanuts eagely awaiting the images and footage of my team plying their trade on the hallowed turf of Old Trafford once more. Sure the result didnt matter but what you wanted was a competetive game, with your team giving at least an account for themselves.
Cue 5 minutes into the game…Ashely Young bursts, no wait, Ashely Young runs into the QPR box feeling the feeble and extended arm of Shaun Derry press ever so lightly into the smalls of his slender and ever so gentle back, only to watch him arobatically fly into the air, twist and turn like an olympic diverand then crash hard into that hallowed turf, all the while protesting and screaming into the face of the onlooking and probably bribed referee.
The referee picked Young up from the hallowed turf, brushed him down, made sure he was ok, smiled, joked, smiled some more and then produced a Red Card for Shaun Derry and a penalty for Manchester United.
The rest is history, and so too was my love and distaste for the English Premiership.
Fooled, Juped, disheartened. I turned to Non-League and the not so hallowed turf of the A3 and Mitcham.
The charms and beauty of Non-league are evident from the moment you arrive at the ground. Its humble and joyous and a real good laugh, just how football should be. Rivalries are met with fun and excitement, not fear and violence. A quick and sharp reminder of the endearing love of football before bevarages and fight club took over.
Tooting and Mitcham urged me to remember my love for football, our love for football as spectators. What more do we want than a good honest game of football, tackles flying in and a good old traditional penalty box scramble with the ball falling to the trustworthy left peg of the left back, who sweeps the ball across the box only for their defender to slam the ball into the middle of the goal.
Yes, we all know the goals and lets face it, it beats any tick-a-tacker 43 pass-pep-klopp artistry.
To follow on and conclude this endless rant i urge football supporters up and down the country to watch your local non-league club.
I dare you to fall back in love with what we still strenously call “The Beautiful Game”.
Alex – MONDE~SPORTIF