Support In Our Hour Of Darkness

Of all the many varied ways of supporting a club, I have never understood the logic behind those who hope to boo, jeer, or yell at a club, individual players or the manager with the intent to improve the play on the pitch.

This season at the NSC games, I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out in different sections. While my season tickets are over in Section 121, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the standing sections behind the seats, hear the home plate corner, and in the supporter’s section visiting with my friends in the Roadies and the Assembly. And while the size of the crowds has sometimes been a little underwhelming, I have consistently been impressed with the mood of the crowd. While friends may turn to me and complain about this or that player, or make a critique of a particular managerial decision, they have also consistently show nothing but support when it came to the team. Cheers, not jeers. May it always be so.

Photo © Ben Wright / Speedway Soccer

The one thing you can guarantee in supporting any team (especially the teams I support, it seems) is that there will be both extreme highs and bottoming out lows. During those seasons when everything seems to be clicking on all cylinders, there is nothing easier, nothing more satisfying than feeling like the true fan who will support the team through anything. During those seasons, one imagines that their support has been forged through the fire and suffering of times past and that nothing will ever threaten belief in the team. You’ll be at every game in the future, regardless of how bad things get. You’ll always be there, always be loud.

Oh, but the test is always harder than one imagines. When the season arrives when one is forced to wonder if the players are trying hard enough, if they even deserve to be on this pitch, if the manager is making the right substitutions, using the right strategy... when that season arrives, the assuredness of the past is sometimes a bit more difficult than one imagined.

"Cheers, chants, noise, support... that’s what we do as a community. We let the team know in full that we are behind them, that we will hold them up rather then tear them down." - John Sloop

To be clear, while I’m sure a few fans will simply drop away during those seasons (that’s when the empty seats finally appear), that’s not going to happen with anyone reading these words. (Let’s face it: if you’re reading opinion pieces about a minor league soccer team, you are freaking dedicated. That sorta defines dedication). So, how do we react? What do we do? How do we support when it seems that everything has turned to crap?

It’s during this scenario where we have to see what sort of fan base we are, what type of community we want to be. I’m not telling anyone how to behave; believe me, but I never understand the logic of booing a team, or booing the manger during a game. As a Chelsea fan, I’ve had to watch a lot of that over the years. How did it help the team to boo Sarri this year, to boo Rafa when he served as interim, to boo the players who were supposedly undermining Mourinho? For the life of me, I don’t see what purpose it serves.

This season, when I asked one fan how booing the manager the entire game helped the team, he argued that booing communicated to the manager different tactics were needed, and this would ultimately force him to change. I don’t buy it. Sure, you’ve communicated your displeasure, and in turn made the experience unpleasurable for everyone in attendance, but we’re dealing with professionals who are paid a lot to make the hard decisions, and I seriously doubt they are swayed by booing. Indeed, if a manager was so thin skinned, so filled with self-doubt, that he second guessed himself because a large group of amateurs were telling him he was wrong, well, I wouldn’t want him managing anyway.

Cheers, chants, noise, support... that’s what we do as a community. We let the team know in full that we are behind them, that we will hold them up rather then tear them down.


The below articles are opinion pieces. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Speedway Soccer as a whole.

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