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).
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
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