Bad week for fans/ good week for fans
The first football team I ever supported was Bridgnorth Town. The house I grew up in backed onto the Crown Meadow pitch and before I was old enough to go through the turnstiles (or, mostly, climb through the gap in the fence) I can remember the floodlights shining through my bedroom window. Hundreds of footballs came over the fence across the years, and me and our kid used to go and practice free kicks and penalties in the goals for hours.
I must have been to 400 games at the Crown Meadow. As we grew older, the Saturday afternoons became ritual. We’d recover from hangovers sipping a cup of soup and eating a sausage roll from Whitney’s bakery, we used to go and smoke weed in the stands at night and, on a couple of occasions when I was locked out, I slept in the old shed stand that I could see from my bedroom window.
Town have had some good players over the years, stalwart centre-half Trevor Beddow, Delwyn Humphries who went onto play for Kidderminster Harriers and the England non-league team, rock-hard librero Steve Frisby, Dave Edwards who was described by Ron Atkinson as the ‘best young midfielder in the country’ while he was at Walsall and David ‘Mini’ Preece who went on to play for Luton and England B and sadly died in 2007. Paul Jones, the Wales goalkeeper, even had a spell there but couldn’t usurp Billy Ball, the Neville Southall lookalike and fan favourite.
Jingoism in Shropshire is rife, and this is the reason most people in Bridgnorth didn’t support Shrewsbury or Telford; we hated those places. We used to play against junior and pub teams and regularly end up in pitched battles. Wolves? That was a different county where they all spoke funny. No, I supported Bridgnorth and Liverpool. I suppose it’s fitting that I learnt to play football on that pitch, because it was on that pitch that I shattered my knee in August 2000 playing in a first v reserves friendly. I haven’t played in a competitive game since.
In that sense, Bridgnorth Town saved my life. After I had my knee reconstructed I went to university and got a journalism degree. But this trip down memory lane is not here just as some nostalgic bollocks, or even to fill some space. Bridgnorth Town FC never let me down. They might have been hammered, the club might have raised the prices by 50p, but the players always gave everything and that was enough. I’m not saying that BTFC is Més que un club, like Barcelona, but it gave a lot of us a grounding in the importance of football at grassroots level.
Torres looked disinterested, out of form and, basically, like he wants out. Let him go, I say, take whatever we can get and buy players who want to play for the team.
When I sit down to write this column, there will usually be one big story of the week. This week, there have been two, and in both instances it has resulted in fans feeling like they have been bent over and vigorously shafted by millionaires. The Chris Hughton affair is now chip paper, Newcastle fans have no choice but to grin and bear it and continue to rally against Mike Ashley. It may take a while for anything to happen here. Liverpool fans played a part in getting rid of the Texan cowboy and his pal, but it was the money that ousted them. Ashley hasn’t leveraged anything and, like it or not, he can do whatever he wants.
My mum always used to tell me to ‘treat people as you wish to be treated.’ So, with that in mind, Mike Ashley deserves everything he gets. But what about Carlos Tevez? I love Tevez as a player. He would be the first player I’d buy for Liverpool and I truly believe that, had he been wearing Fernando Torres’ number 9 shirt at St James’ on Saturday, Liverpool would have won. Torres looked disinterested, out of form and, basically, like he wants out. Let him go, I say, take whatever we can get and buy players who want to play for the team.
And City fans must feel the same. They would be wrong to blame Mancini for this. I am no fan of the Italian but he is the gaffer. Tevez can bang on about homesickness all he wants. My brother lives in Buenos Aires, and a few months ago he told me that ALLEGEDLY this has nothing to do with homesickness and APPARENTLY has something to do with a beauty queen. Of course, there are still players and owners who care deeply about the club they own or play for, but it is an ever-decreasing circle. We, as fans, must be fucking idiots. But how can you stop supporting your team? It’s the pinnacle of the week for a lot of people. I haven’t lived in Bridgnorth for nearly a decade but I still get their results texted to me by a mate.
The heartening aspect for fans of City and Newcastle is that the players who turned out at the weekend gave them something to cheer about. City won their first Premier League game for eons without Tevez and the Newcastle players were at Liverpool from the off. West Ham might be bobbins and Liverpool meek away from Anfield, but a couple of big lines got drawn in the sand here. Fans are like goldfish, and I’m as guilty as anyone else. I cannot stop loving football, but with every passing week I hate everything but the simple act of 22 men running around with a ball.
Loads of other stuff happened this weekend. The Spurs v Chelsea game was a great advert for the Premier League, as was the Bolton v Blackburn derby. I could tell you that I think Anelka has forgotten how to play as an out-and-out number 9, or how ‘Arry has infused the soul of Owain Glyndwr into Gareth Bale, that Gerard Houllier has bought himself some time at Villa and also how Mick and Olly got results that their commitment to playing football deserves.
But you know all of that already. Same as you’re probably as sick of all the other crap as I am.
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