Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Football on TV

A few weeks ago Reidski and I watched Northampton play Brentford on Sky Sports in a popular town pub. OK, not exactly a high profile match, but featuring as it did our local side I expected the pub to be quite busy and made sure I was in there early to secure a good seat and view of one of the many TV screens. I need not have worried. There was PLENTY of space. I reckon there were probably about a dozen of us in specifically to see the game and one of those was a Scot who really supports Millwall.

Fast forward to last night and same pub, different match. Yes, of course I accept that Liverpool v Barcelona in the Championship League is a much bigger match, and no, I am not surprised that it was standing room only by the time we got there, but what was slightly surprising was the number of people in there who were obviously Liverpool fans.

It was clear that the people crammed in the pub last night did n't just have a general interest in football but were there to support 'Their' team. Most of them had Liverpool shirts on. They hung on every pass in the way that only people who really really care about the outcome of a match can do. However, there was a distinct lack of Scouse accents. I rather suspect (yes, I acknowledge I could be wrong but...) that they were not in fact from Liverpool, but were actually all local.

Geographical fact coming up.

Northampton (which has had a football league side of its own for about 110 years) is 149 miles from Liverpool.

Most of the people in the pub last night were of an age that made me think they probably started supporting Liverpool when they were in primary school and Liverpool were winning everything going in the 70's and 80's. I know that at that age you can fall for a side on the basis of success and that maybe I was just unfortunate to fall for a lower league side.

What I do also know though is that lower league sides face a constant battle to stay in business. We have an average attendance of about 5,000 home supporters. We have a population of about 250,000 people. It seems a shame that a few of the passionate football supporters in that pub last night can't get themselves along to support the local side instead of spending good money on Liverpool replica shirts and Sky Sports subscriptions as that is for most of them I assume the only way they ever get to see 'Their' side play.

Milton Keynes which is about 15 miles from us is a new town and had no football team. They recognised that a town needs league football so they pinched Wimbledon who have now magically morphed into 'MK Dons'. There is so much I could say about that but I would never get to work if I started on that subject right now. (Suffice to say I disapprove strongly.) However, at least they did see the importance of having a league side to a city/town. I don't think there are many people in this town who give a damn about Northampton Town Football Club.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

You don't think there are many people in the town who give a damn about Northampton Town - does that include the players?
I know what you mean about those armchair or pub lounge supporters -to me they are not real football supporters at all but I'm old-fashioned - I think people should identify with their hometown clubs. Now my brother-in-law had a Man Utd season ticket for twenty five years but he has recently converted back to Scunthorpe United to save on the travelling etc. and he tells me he's really loving his football more than before.

Arthur Clewley said...

before christmas I was in a pub in London watching boro play manchester united. I'm not what you would call a diehard, more the aforementioned armchair variety of supporter, but I did feel quite strange being the sole person in the pub rather hoping, in vein, for the smogs not to balls it up again whilst a pub full of people who probably couldn't find manchester on a map of britain with the town names covered up enthusistically cheered that bunch of prima donnas from the wrong side of the pennines. It's a funny old game.

Anonymous said...

No one cares about Northampton Town FC ? . What about the 32,000 who went to Wembley to support us in 1998. They may not be there every week but they do care. The Chronicle & Echo know that if they prinnt an important story about the Cobblers the sales go up - the Saints don't have the same reaction.
How does that song go
"You never know just how much they'll miss us --- unless you take the Cobblers away"

Steve said...

JJ, Don't get me started......

Football's been on a downward spiral for quite a while. A brief middle-class respite after the "invention" of the Premiership allied with the Stalinist "rubbin' out" of anything that happened previously.

What pisses me off more at the moment is the fact that the team finishing last in the Premiership from next season will receive £30million!!!!!

So what will happen is this:-

The top four will remain the top four. Making a fuckin' fortune and buying up the World's greatest players.

The "middle teams" - Spurs etc will middle on with no hope of the Premiership.

The rest - City for example - will become yo-yo clubs. Earning £30 million if they get relegated and getting promoted a season or two after. Thus earning money for being promoted. Getting relegated the year after for a minimum of £30m puts them in yet another glass-ceiling position, with the likes of Rotherham, Northampton, Oldham and the rest falling further and further behind.

Never again will a Watford or a Swansea rise from the 4th to the 1st division. The rest of the league structure will eventually fold.

Without true competition. Without the fans. The entire thing loses that magic ingredient.

It won't bother SKY though, they'll just CGI crowds who ain't there.

J.J said...

YP - re the players - there have certianly been times when it has looked that way. But the other stuff, I really don't undersatnd why more people don't support their home teams. Yes, I can see you might have a favoured Premiership side as well, but get along and support what your home side has to offer or one day it will be gone.

Lucky for your brother in law Scunthorpe are doing so well.

Arthur, I can just imagine how you must have felt. At least when you support a less fashionable side you can identify with the players - what do any of us mortals have in common with players who can get docked 2 weeks wages (£80,000 Anton Ferdinand)and not have to worry about it.

Hi Anon, and good to hear from a local. I think that is part of what upsets me - 40,000 of us for the second play off final - but where are they when the side needs supporters week in week out? (And sod the Saints!)

Steve, I think the £30 million for finishing bottom is indeed the final nail in the coffin of genuine competiton. I think that knowledge results in what I see as the arrogance of the current West Ham squad who I imagine are thinking -

"So we go down - I will still get paid a fortune whether I stay here or get snapped up at an inflated price by a Premiership side who are obviously the only ones who could afford me. And we can buy our way back to the Premiership with the £30m we will get with relegation. What ever - I'm alright Jack."

I place them in the same bracket as the bastard who stole my handbag as they are cheating the fans of their club by their on and off pitch behaviour.