Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the Back to the Future films. I refuse to believe that anyone doesn’t know what these movies are, but as a brief recap, this trilogy tells the tale of Marty McFly, whose mad professor friend invents a time travelling car that sends Marty back and forward to key points in his family history, accidentally meddling and trying to realign his interference.
The part that really got into my brain was the main plot device of the second film, where Marty gets his hands on a sports almanac from the future and tries to take it back with him to win big betting on sporting events. It’s surely the first job that comes to mind when you think about time travel isn’t it?
My mind revisits this concept every now and again, and I like to have a little fantasy about how I’d use my sporting knowledge to my advantage if I found myself somehow catapulted back ten years or so (spoiler alert: don’t think it’s possible). Mon Mome to win the National in ’09 and Leicester’s incredible Premier League title would be the cornerstones of my vast fortune, but of course my in-depth knowledge of Newcastle’s results down the years would sort out a steady income.
More than just an earner though, I’d be able to make sure I didn’t see any rubbish Newcastle United matches. I’d be damn sure to be in my expensive box to see the mackems tanked 5-1, but I might nip over to Vegas rather than watch them beat us 3-0 there. Six nil against Aston Villa = St James, relegated at Villa Park = St Tropez. Easy right, who would want to willingly inflict an afternoon of misery on themselves when they know how it’s going to turn out?
The answer to that seems to be quite a lot of people actually. My scenario is pure make believe but the guaranteed misery of certain defeat doesn’t seem a world away from the guaranteed misery of a normal home game at the minute. An underfunded home team in awful form playing negative, frightened football in front of a weary, silent crowd, hoping their fragile confidence won’t be shattered too early by their superior opponents. It’s hard going to watch at the minute and many people have had a belly full. Those that persevere do so through loyalty, routine and increasingly forlorn hope.
But what we have looming around the corner is an opportunity. A chance to not go has presented itself and instead of being an offence to whatever sensibility keeps you going, it should be constructive.
The Boycott Wolves movement advocated by the Magpie Group is a chance to make a statement in front of a live TV audience, and I can’t believe the whole place isn’t grabbing it with both hands.
At this point I’d like to point out that I’m not the sort of cockwallop who has been using the internet to scream hysterically at anyone still intent on attending. I still have a season ticket myself and I understand the draw for many. People attending with children who will not understand the concept of a stay-away protest should quite rightly take the child if they want to go.
Similarly some older people may look forward to every game as a social highlight, regardless of how depressing United are. If it makes you happy, get yourself along. There are little red flowers everywhere at the minute in deference to your right to freedom.
Like most arguments, we have two extremes. The wallops on one side using language like “scab” and “Ashley apologist” for anyone not joining in, and at the other end the overcommitted matchgoer, showing a stubborn-minded determination to go because we need to “support the team”.
I agree wholeheartedly that divides in the support base are the worst thing that could happen out of all this. However, I have to say one thing to those vehemently defending the philosophy that attendance is your duty.
If you are going to belittle the Magpie Group;s attempt at mobilising fan power because you feel a fan’s role is to support the team, you must put on the most exemplary display of “getting behind that lads” that ground has ever seen. If Perez is below par, bellow encouragement at him at every loose ball. If Diame is off the pace a bit, sing his name. If the opposition has a long period of pressure and possession, chant the team’s name to encourage them to get it back. Support. The. Team.
If you can do this, not only will you play your part in a vital three points, but you will refute the belief some might have that the problem majority are not good supporters for showing up, they are merely there because they don’t know what else to do and daren’t try to think about it.
To reiterate, I still go myself, so don’t and can’t spill vitriol at those who still choose to be there.
I hate the divides in our support base but I am fundamentally opposed to anyone who pours scorn on those trying to take action without constructively offering any alternative themselves. I appreciate that the Magpie Group are trying (via an open forum where anyone can put ideas forward by the way) to push back against the rot at the core of the club. For that reason I am choosing to support the Wolves Boycott, which I believe is the right thing to do. While I respect anyone’s individual choice I’d ask them to at least think through what they are choosing to do and offer the same respect back.
I’m sure the noise in the ground that day will be raucous in lieu of the thousands of empty seats. I won’t be hearing it on TV either though, as I’ll probably just binge all three Back to the Futures that day instead.
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf