Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Thursday February 9 2006
OPINION : ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
After holding a season ticket/card for more years than we can remember we have had to say this season is our last. We will not be renewing them for the forthcoming season for a number of reasons, but it has been made easier thanks to Joey Barton. Our reasons are below; Joey is a symptom of what's wrong with football these days.
We have struggled for years to find the money for these, but even though over a season the tickets and the normal game day expenditure we are using over 80% of our expendable income after gas electric etc. We have followed the blues though thin and thinner as we dropped from one division to another. We both turned up to games (as many others have done) within hours of losing family members, as the blues meant that much to us. Moreover we could always count on a remark or instance that would make us laugh and give us a precious time when we both could forget about life as we entered in to a family. No matter how dysfunctional this family was it was still better than the one outside Maine Road.
Since the first time we attended a game you felt part of something bigger than you. Both I and Helen were big supporters of the move from Maine Rd to our new stadium. We knew that would be changes and that it would take some time to 'settle in'. As time has gone on the feeling of not belonging has not gone. We no longer enjoy going to the game. There has been a change in the atmosphere at the games, and we are not just talking about the volume of the crowd.
In these very pages there is this same change. In the 'good old days' there was give and take, blues would make their point to other blues with a remark that would have everyone else laughing, but now there seems to be a one size must fit all fan. We never thought we'd read that a fellow blue would write that he would 'pour petrol on them and set them alight' for the crime of singing a song that the writer did not like!
The mind police tell us, what songs can or cannot be sung, when we can or cannot stand what flags/banners we can or cannot show. The corporate feel of the new stadium makes us feel that we are dinosaurs. When we try and get behind the team we have to do this with one eye cocked over our shoulder. If the stewards aren't telling us to sit down, it's other fans tutting if we sing too loud.
Football used to be a game of passion and a game for the common person (one for the Politically Correct). Now with the cost, the constant changing of kick off times, player's wages getting out of control I no longer recognize the game I loved. The games have gone from our Saturday to any day of the week, at any time of kick-off and sod the travelling fans.
We have the best manager and team we have had for years, so why are we enjoying less and less?
Canned fans, staff who treat you with contempt when you try to break in to their conversation to get served, heavy handed stewards, has not helped, but it's the fans themselves that seem to have changed. At Maine road we had a spirit that has gone. Maybe it's the fact that, in the old days, tickets were sold in pubs around the ground. So if a lad had got some money and fancied a game he could go. This allowed people who really wanted to be at a game, now with the cards there is very little turn over. In the old days you got a chance to test out different parts of the ground and could get to know where you fitted in. These days there are very few chances to do this.
The ground and some of the fans (more each season) has more and more of a plastic, corporate feel. There are more and more people who are more interested in reading the programme than getting behind the team. God forbid you should get so rapped up in the game that you let an F word slip!
The end for us was Joey Barton. He is what we have become to detest about the game. The club and fans stood behind him, through his disdainful acts at the Christmas party and his problems with his brother. With our help he is now being talked up as a future England player. What happens when we double his wages? He throws all the support back in our faces and says he wants more! He is not the first to forget all the help we the fans have given to a player, and sadly he will not be the last. The clubs now mean nothing to these players and therefore we the fans mean even less. Football has gone mad and we no longer feel part of, or recognize it. There will be a price rise on our season tickets to play for these players, and we no longer feel we are getting our money's worth. He has been the last straw.
We watched the City v Charlton away game at home. There we were beer in hand shouting at the TV, leaping up and down, singing and not a tut to be heard. At the end of the game we both could hardly talk, and that had not happened at a game for a very long time.
Some of you reading this will be saying good, two less foul mouthed dinosaurs who can only live in the past. I say this to you. Be very careful, because when you have got the ground full of the politically correct people, who calmly sit there politely clapping a goal. Who never let their emotions lose, who never take the p*ss out of the away fans or team, who don't know the word irony (as some who could not see that we were laughing with and not Sun with the chippy song) you will have your nice safe plastic world, but will it be football? We will if we are lucky get to a few away games, if our friends can get hold of a couple of tickets, and may even go to the odd cup game, but we can no longer convince ourselves that doing without a holiday for years so we have the money for the game is the right choice. Paying the wages of the likes of Joey Barton, players who no longer care about the club or fans, who's only thought, seems to be how much they can screw out of the game will no longer be able to take the p*ss out of us.
A huge chunk of our life has been tied up with going to the game, and we will shed more than a few tears come the beginning of next season. But thanks to Joey Barton the pain will not be as bad as it was going to be. There is just no fun these days and no matter how bad things got on the pitch we could always count on the having a laugh and could feel that the players were part of the club and therefore there was always the hope things will get better. Sad then that City are at last seeming to get things right on the pitch that things seem to be getting so bad off it.
So to end, may we thank all the people we have met at the game and we hope we'll see some of you at an away game. My we also invite any like minded people to join our new club. The fees are cheap (e.g. nowt!) the only rules are that you get behind the team, have a laugh, if you spill someone's beer you buy two back. The new club is CHIP (City Heaven in Pubs) and the first meeting will be held in the Lass O'Gowrie in Manchester
Beer in The Evening for the first City game on Sky.
Good luck to you all, we'll miss you, but will not miss players like Barton, or the plastic version of football that passes for 'entertainment' these days. We have both just fallen out of love with the game. We wonder if we are the only ones?
Date:Thursday February 9 2006
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