Is it time to stop?
Saturday was a great day.
Some of the football we played was fantastic; slick, one-touch, passing and moving. That pass by Mitrovic at the end, Diame’s effort and guile, Anita’s tenacity and Gayle’s goalscoring, everything clicked.
I was also pleased that on five minutes the entire stadium applauded in recognition of Bradley Lowery and his devastating battle with cancer, having lost somebody close I am aware of the pain and suffering he and his family must be going through. Although scant consolation, it is an example of the compassion that one football supporter, one human, can show another.
I think we should also take a moment to think about the families of those who are suffering cancer but aren’t fans of the beautiful game, and those who have lost somebody they love, especially so close to Christmas.
So to my main point. After 17 minutes of every single match since the fateful events of July 17th 2014 we have held a minute of applause for John Alder and Liam Sweeney. I have joined in with each and every one, and each time it reminds me of the fragility of life.
However, the enthusiasm with which the entirety of St James Park involve themselves seems to be on the wane and I am worried that it could become a bone of contention, indeed it already is in some quarters.
Saturday was the first time since then that we have scored in the 18th minute, during the round of applause. It occurred to me that perhaps this is the opportune moment to thank Liam and John for their magnificent service to the club, to take this as a sign that it is OK to desist with the clapping and perhaps from this day forth give them a thought at this point in the match, to maybe use it as a spur to start a song or raise volume levels generally.
The memory of football’s undisputed super-fans doesn’t have to fade entirely, but there has to be a point at which we all stop, otherwise it will peter out, and like deflated balloons, that will just be sad.
It’s pretty hard to write this, because of the respect I hold for them, for all Toon fans that travel the length and breadth of the globe to support their team, but it is out of respect that I do so.
So let’s embrace the goal we scored during the applause, remember it, remember them, and move on.