At the end of the wonderful 3-2 victory against Lincoln City here at the dysfunctional home of football’s temporarily fallen and recently forlorn; Ronnie Henry, indignant with rage, approached the Main Stand Enclosure...
From my view beneath a sea of celebrating arms and troubling haircuts in the stand above it looked as though the players had turned on each other, Henry picking-on the biggest and smallest squad members to ... err... fight in celebration of the most exhilarating of turnarounds. It was confusing.
It since transpired that a supporter had berated the players by the tunnel as they left the pitch at half time, 1 nil down. A pumped-up Henry was keen to hear from said fan after a fantastic finish to the game and had to be restrained by McNulty and O’Donnell. Afterwards Ronnie took to YouTube, offering an opportunity for the fan to come and discuss the incident, prompting much discussion among supporters and the media.
Surprisingly to me the usually militant “I pay my money...” crowd were drowned out by voices of approval for Ronnie’s intervention.
Now, us not being supporters historically receptive to being told how to behave, I was unsure about the reception of Henry’s video message (and Still’s earlier in the season). Happily there appeared to be broad support, or at least an appetite to give a go, their plea to get behind the team, cheer louder when we’re struggling and cut out the abuse of our own players. Hang on, were we being asked to behave more like Dagenham and Stevenage fans? Still, no backlash ensued. I was preparing to eat my boater.
What many seem to have realised over the past few games, games that have seen goals added to the continued austerity at the back, is that maybe those (like Henry and Still) that have done it before at this level have a point.
We all know that when we get-going in the stands, the players react. And when we criticise, their heads drop. It’s not rocket surgery. But we’re not there to do a job are we?
The beauty of a match day for many remains the cathartic throat-rattling moan as much as it is the euphoric cheer. To shout and swear and mime displeasure as well as delight. After all, the highs are never quite as high as when coming off the back of a heart-numbing low, as the Lincoln game proved.
It is that release from the confines of the working week that many crave; an opportunity to lose yourself in the theatre and testosterone a football crowd offers, allowing men and women to return to the real-world after 90 minutes, as sane human beings: the type of people who think before speaking and sometimes do things based on reason rather than gut-feeling and pure emotion. Cleansed of demons.
The lovely end to the Henry tale is that the supporter in question seemingly took up Ronnie’s offer to come into the club and talk to the player about the incident. According to Still he was very apologetic.
So, are we to enter an age of reason in the stands at Kenilworth Road? Only time will tell. But if a new-found positivity and restraint is the result of Still and Henry’s appeals to camera, and it works on the pitch, then I’m all for it.
But can I make a request for the gaffer’s next YouTube fan appeal? Can you tell Block F to stop singing the “You’re just a small town in X” song to away fans. It’s really rubbish. Ta.
Up The Town