Dec 7, 2012

Why do you go?

No so long ago

What was your first match?  If you have been going since you were in nappies what was your first match memory?  Why have you kept going back?

The reason I pose those questions is I have been pretty disillusioned with going since walking out of the Spurs match in August, a fairly late winner against a team I don’t like (that’s all of them by the way) a lovely day and a few drinks with close friends and casual acquaintances alike, what’s not to like?

This is the crux of it, I don’t really enjoy going at the moment and I don’t think the team’s lack of form can be solely attributed to this, seeing as that day against Spurs I think we played quite well.  Go back to my original questions; for me it was a sense of belonging to something bigger than just me, aspiring to be like the older lads around me (who let’s face it were probably a bit younger than I am now) singing different songs every game, belting out old standards and forgetting about whatever problems they might have outside of the ground.  I don’t think that exists anymore for me.

If I bring myself back to the present day I look around what is one of the best grounds in the country and wonder what would make me want to go back on a regular basis if I was a young lad taken for the first time.  Starting with the players on the pitch I don’t think it can be argued that the current crop of players are streets ahead of some of our previous sides in terms of attitude and application, but I think it is a sorry state of affairs when not being a pack of irredeemable parasites is seen as a positive – for me it should be a given.  In terms of ability some of them are very good at what they do, see Ben Arfa, Ba, Coloccini and some not so much – sorry but Williamson, Perch, Ameobi, this means you lads – not to say they don’t try with the limited ability they have, but talents to get your heart racing they are not.  As has always been the case Newcastle United has bags of potential to be a successful club in this country, however due to a succession of circumstances I won’t go into here, as you all know what they are, this will never be the case, so please don’t think this is a lament that we’ll never win anything, I accepted that a long time ago.I’m not trying to discourage the people reading this from going to matches if that is what they want to do and I’m not saying that I won’t continue to go, but I am seriously questioning what it is that will motivate me to do that.

I’d be genuinely interested to hear people’s answers to the below questions.  I often look around at the people near me and wonder what answer they would give if they were to answer honestly as some of them seem to actively dislike it from the moment they set foot in the ground to when they leave.  These are purely speculative suggestions, but could imagine some, or a combination of these would fit the bill;

•    It is an escape from the ups and downs of my day to day life.
•    It is somewhere I can express myself, which isn’t always easy.
•    I’ve got nothing else to do with my free time so why not this?
•    I started coming when it was the fashionable thing to do and don’t want to stop now as that will be an admittance that I was a bandwagon jumper.
•    I love the football team and what it represents (if anyone picks that it opens a whole other question of what exactly it represents?  Tradition, a link to family who came here before me, I feel I belong here……..)
•    This is how I am defined by myself and others, I am happy with that and don’t want to change.
•    I’m not as fussed about what happens on the pitch as I used to be but all my mates go and as we’ve grown up this is a rare opportunity to see them socially.

It might not be an easy thing to answer, as we may give a different answer depending on what is going on in our lives at any given time, but I think it is worth asking yourself rather than just continuing to do something, just because it is what you have always done.

I know from my own experience probably the most I’ve looked forward to going to the match in recent years was when I had a perch (not you James) in Level 7 during the Championship and first season back in the Premier League, across those 2 seasons we went from winning most games to being completely unpredictable, dishing out some hidings and taking a few beatings along the way.  The contrasting emotions of what went on on the pitch across those seasons again suggests to me that what happens on the pitch isn’t the be all and end of all of why I enjoy going.  So what was different then?  Firstly the view of the game wasn’t great, but we were close enough to the away fans to see the whites of their eyes, bounce our songs off theirs and everyone who was there wanted to be part of making a bit of a racket.   This isn’t supposed to be a teary eyed lament for the days of Level 7 or a call for a return for the days when fighting with other supporters was the norm rather than the exception, but a bit of needle with like-minded souls from another part of the world to you was always welcome and sometimes a nice distraction from the match itself.

During last season when it became clear that en masse move to The Corner from Level 7 wasn’t going to be quite the same one of my friends sent me a video of Dortmund fans creating a huge flag display before a home game, very impressive it was and as we thought “we’ll have a little bit of that”.  So we got ourselves a couple of flags that now sit at the front of our little section, now when I see them they make me feel that we shouldn’t have to have these embellishments to make the match enjoyable, basically we’re trying too hard, trying to find something that isn’t there and deep down I’m a bit embarrassed by them (sorry lads).

FC United of Manchester fans

I find the idea of going to support another team a foreign concept, it’s either Newcastle United or nobody for me, but I do look on with some interest at the exploits of those who follow FC United of Manchester.  You could say it would be easy to walk away from a team who have lifted every major prize in your lifetime and do something else as it won’t ever get better, compared with clinging on to the hope that we’ll ever win anything, but I still imagine it would have taken some soul searching.  I follow some of these lads on twitter and while how we portray ourselves on there is often a caricature of our real selves, I get the sense that they enjoy it for the reasons I got hooked in the first place.

So, what else am I supposed to do and what is the answer to the question of why do I keep going back?  For me at present going to the match is purely an opportunity to see my friends and stopping this (with a baby on the way in the New Year) has the potential to very quickly turn me into a social leper.  That might happen, it might not, but I’m prepared to see how I feel about it so have passed on my ticket for a recent league game and I won’t be hanging around the pub watching on telly when everyone heads off to the ground.  This might seem a step too far for some of you reading this, but it is common sense that if you continue to do the things you’ve always done things will never change.  The outcome may be that I get feel I’ve missed out and can easily rekindle my enjoyment for the match by giving some games the swerve in an absence makes the heart grow fonder style, or realise that not going regularly anymore isn’t that big a deal for me and pick and choose what games I’m going to.

I don’t expect The Corner to turn into Dortmund’s Yellow Wall ever, so have to be realistic in my expectations and the recapturing of the simple pleasures that seem to go along with following FCUM has to be my aim, deep down I hope I can do that.

Author: Adam Forster

Follow Adam on Twitter @adamf2384


  • Great article, for me its a sense of belonging to a community, its been ingrained in me ever since I can remember. I’ve been into various things in my life, and Newcastle United has been the ever present. I don’t get to as many games as I like as I live in the Midlands.

    As much as the team/management/club have let me down over the years, I could never walk away. I still get the same feeling when a goal goes in that I’ve always had.

    Cheers, and a good read.

  • Christ Adam, that was a depressing read.

    People go to football games for all sorts of reasons, it kind of annoys me when others try to force a stereotype football fan personality upon everyone in the ground. Not everyone is there to get drunk, sing songs, and abuse the officials and opposing team’s fans or players. But those who are there for that sort of thing look down on and often voice their disgust at everyone who isn’t partaking in that sort of thing. I’m not suggesting that this is what you are doing with this article, but I do see most weeks the odd person have a go at the people around them for not standing up at the “Stand up if you love the toon” chant, or not singing every rendition of “Geordie Boot Boys”.

    I understand the clamour for passion at the games, and the atmosphere is electric at games like Sunderland, Man U & Liverpool. But that sort of atmosphere cannot be sustained for every game, for the simple reason that you expect more in the derby games and against the top / rival teams. If the atmosphere against the likes of West Ham & Wigan was at the same level as it was last season against Sunderland, then you have no “next level” to get to when Sunderland visit in the new year.

    I think football is like most things in life, you have a rose tinted view of things as a child and look up to those in the game that excite and give you something to aspire to. As you grow up you lose that when you realise that you won’t ever make it as a professional player. I imagine that as a kid you kept World Cup sticker books and did swaps with your friends at school. I’m pretty sure you won’t do that today.

    People will attend the games for different reasons. I still go because I enjoy football. It has it’s ups and downs. Relegation was one of the worst feelings I’ve experienced, but it was followed by an excellent season in the Championship. Last season was massive fun, this season is proving somewhat frustrating. But it is something that brings out emotions.

    I like analysing football games, looking at the tactical nuances and identifying where improvements could be made. Looking at the personnel we have and trying to identify how best to make the transition from 4-5-1 to 4-3-3 when we regain possession. Where we need to strengthen in the squad and who could best fill those positions. I can then discuss these points over a few drinks in the pub with my friends. But I’m more able to do that when I attend the games and see the action live.

    I suppose the best analogy I can come up with is that people probably go to the football because they get the same thing out of it that others get from watching soap operas or reality TV. It gives them the opportunity to immerse themselves in something, observe the decisions being made by others and pass judgement on them, and it gives them something or someone to root for. Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes it’s depressing, but it’s something that’ people can be involved in and that you can feel part of.

    In answer to the first question, my first game was in about 1992, a 2-2 draw against Charlton Athletic. I remember going with my Dad and him sitting me on top of one of the concrete TT shaped barriers that were dotted about the Gallowgate end.

    I still go to the game with my Dad, even if we’ve only had season tickets for the past 10 years or so, but we get to do something that we both enjoy and get to catch up on the goings on in life before the game and at half time. Like most people at the minute I don’t really enjoy the football that is being played, but for so many reasons I do enjoy going to the games.

  • My first 3 games were all cup games in the 1975-76 season the 1st was the League Cup 2nd leg Semi Final turning around a 1-0 1st leg loss at Spurs to win 3-1 at home. Then Coventry 5-0 FA Cup 4th rnd and Bolton 0-0 FA Cup 5th rnd. I went till the 81-82 season and stopped going when I started going to Rock/Pop concerts. In the 2009/10 season I had to take my nephew to a game when his dad couldn’t make it and the following season me and my son (7) became members been season ticket holders for the last 2 seasons. It’s all about the atmosphere even when we’ve lost, now I’ve been back for the last 3 seasons wish I’d never stopped going.

  • I can remember that my first game was against Man Utd in the snow at SJP( i had been to earlier games but no memory of them). our (now deceased) cousin had gotten my cousin and I tickets but we didn’t know the seat numbers. so we went an stood in the cold – next to two massive punks who spent the whole game swearing and shouting abuse.
    2-2 draw i believe.

    I live 250 miles away from Newcastle now, my family still live in Whitley Bay.
    so a few times a season when I can afford it i head home and take in a game at the home of football.
    Newcastle for me is home, i’ve lived away for many years, lost my accent somewhat and don’t really want to live back up there for many years.
    But it’s still home, it’s still the place i learned to watch football.

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