I don’t know why some people go to football.
I’m not talking about the prawn sandwich brigade, or the people who sit in silence for 85 minutes and then leave however precariously poised the game. I’m assuming they get some pleasure out of it, and they don’t do anything that upsets me greatly.
Nor do I mean the fans that berate our owner and his team. They see him as the architect of a long and painful slump into a world of mid-table ambitions and a selling mentality. They think that if they complain loud and long enough, change will come. They would look at recent transfer activity as evidence that it works.
I’m talking about the fans who go to the match with an agenda that includes singling out one player and subjecting him to abuse every time he gets the ball. Or doesn’t.
Some mates came up for the Southampton game, which meant I temporarily relocated to a part of the stadium I’d never really sat in before. Good seats; we benefited from the lack of season ticket renewals.
Before kick-off, a bloke behind me started voicing his displeasure at Gabriel Obertan’s inclusion in the team. Someone else said that he thought Obertan had been doing OK before he did his leg in last season. That prompted a tirade of sustained swearing and shouting that made me wonder if he’d caught our number 14 in bed with his missus.
Anyway, every time Obertan got the ball, this guy let everybody know just how useless he thought the player was, and how the manager should be dragging him off. I asked the old fella sat next to me if this was typical and he said, “Aye, he doesn’t like Obertan much. He does this every time he sees him.”
You may recall the goal that Wijnaldum scored in that game, and monsieur Obertan’s part in it. Beat his man, looked up, delivered an inch-perfect cross, which our new signing thumped into the net with a fantastic header.
Needless to say, many of the people around me were looking to see how Mr Angry has reacted. He’d remained in his seat, and just glowered at everyone.
He’d just seen a goal that was as sweet as anything we’ve witnessed at SJP of late, it had put us 2-1 up, and this guy was upset.
At least he stopped shouting abuse at Obertan for the rest of the game, which was ironic, because I thought he ran out of steam after the goal and had no further impact.
Back in my regular berth for the Northampton game, someone who I’d never seen before was rightly eulogising Thauvin’s performance. He played a blinder. Then someone else noted that Williamson had played OK. Thauvin’s admirer immediately responded that in his view, Williamson was worse than useless, and that he only looked good because we were playing Northampton.
I thought I might as well help him out by suggesting it was the same opposition that Thauvin was shining against, but that just seemed to upset him. He said that I didn’t know what I was talking about. When I told him that I thought I did, because it said we were playing Northampton on my programme and his ticket, he turned a funny colour. As if by fate, Willo scored about 2 minutes after this discussion.
When Wimbledon (the old lot) played at Selhurst Park, it was great for Newcastle fans. It was always easy to get tickets, and the number of Mags who came to away games there made it feel more like a home game. A lot of exiled fans would venture to South London to join the travelling hordes.
I suspect a lot of them hadn’t been to many games, and this made them feel like a proper supporter. I say this, because at one fixture, one guy got on our full back’s case as soon as he touched the ball. “Pistone, you’re a joke”, “Pistone you are useless”, and so on. I’m omitting the many swear words that accompanied his assessment of Pistone’s abilities as I know some of you are of a delicate disposition.
But the thing is, it wasn’t Pistone. It was Andy Griffin, a fact I took great pleasure in pointing out to him. This guy had seemingly gone to a game of football with the sole intention of having a go at an individual that wasn’t even playing!
Don’t get me wrong. I moan at misplaced passes, inept defending, wasted dead balls, stupid fouls etc as much as the next man. And don’t think that messrs Obertan, Williamson and Pistone would make my all-time first XI. Or the second, for that matter.
But sometimes, poor players have good games, and sometimes a bloke you don’t rate will do something to win us a match. You might as well enjoy it when it happens. The pleasures in watching Newcastle have been fleeting of late.
I completely buy the premise that fans are entitled to their opinion, and have the right to make it heard.
I know I’m in a minority (of one, possibly) when I say I think Mike Williamson is a better defender than Steven Taylor, or that we were right to get shot of Ben Arfa. But I’d never turn up to a game with nothing more on my agenda than to slag one of them off. It wouldn’t make me happy.
The people I have been describing can’t possibly be enjoying themselves. Why would you pay money to direct abuse at an individual that is probably doing his best to make you happy, and then get upset when he does? Whose life does it improve when you do?
I’m sure these people don’t buy tickets to the pantomime so they can go and abuse their least favourite of the seven dwarfs. “Oi Sleepy, wake up!” It’s one thing to moan at a player that’s having a shocker, but to slag him off in the warm-up is, in my eyes, madness.
I know most fans get behind the team, but next time you meet one of this type, try and suggest the following:
- Think of a player you like and sing his praises instead
- Get a girlfriend. A real one.
- If you really hate it that much, spend your £600 a year on something that makes you happy
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