Last November, Jurgen Klopp stated he felt ‘pretty alone’, after witnessing fans leaving Anfield early, rather than rallying behind his team, in a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace. It was a defeat that ended the Germans unbeaten record in charge of his new side.
It highlighted the fact that maybe English based supporters may tend to have a different approach to other fans around Europe; when staying to support their team to the final whistle.
Is it the English way to speak with our feet?
Is it now common practice to get your money’s worth or just leave early to make a statement with your feet, if not satisfied with your team’s efforts on match day?
If not entertained or the result is not going your way, should we just get up and leave?
Is life moving so fast, that the days of cheering your team to the end in hope of miraculously turning around a deficit now succumb to the demands of ‘whatever it is’, you need to rush back for?
Or is it the stressful transport chaos that comes with travelling to and from your home to the football stadium, that makes us leave our seats early, rather than ‘getting behind’ your team?
Why do we choose to pay good money, sometimes waiting months for a ticket to come available, only to leave a game early? Is it an English mentality thing, that if things don’t go our way, we demonstrate with our feet rather than support with our voices?
It was brought to my attention, last Saturday that with my home side, Brighton & Hove Albion; being 0-2 down to Brentford, fans were seen leaving the AMEX stadium as early as the 70th minute.
Which brought me to write this piece. It made me recall a story from my past that haunts me, every time I hear or witness such behaviour.
It’s a story I wish to share with you, in the hope that if you ever feel like abandoning your seat early – you’ll think again!
I was fifteen years old at the time. I and a few friends travelled from Brighton to Wembley on a cold midweek night in September 1999, to go watch the Arsenal, whilst under the supervision of a pal’s responsible dad and his mate!
It was a Champions League match at (the old) Wembley Stadium, where Arsenal were playing the mighty (wait for it!), AIK Solna – their from Sweden!
As expected, Arsenal opened the scoring early against the somewhat; Swedish minnows. Freddie Ljungberg finishing coolly, from a sublime through ball by Dennis Bergkamp, The inevitable convincing win was on the cards.
Against the run of play however, AIK Solna grabbed an equaliser in the 52ndminute and held on tight right through to the 90th minute. A shock was on the cards.
It was around the 87th minute, that the so called ‘responsible parents’ took it upon themselves to order us teenagers to leave our Wembley seats, in order to ‘catch the tube’ home, prior the mass exodus at the final whistle.
I can still see myself screaming to my fellow friend & his inept father, “NOOOOO – we might get a winner- we can still win this”, to which he replied some tosh of ‘getting home safe’ and “it’s all over son”. With that, the whole party vacated their seats and off we went.
What choice did I have? It was my first trip to Wembley! I didn’t know how to get home – so with that I reluctantly left the stadium, glum faced muttering to anyone that cared to listen “I bet we get a winner”.
I will never forget the pain, as when walking back to the tube, down Wembley way, the inevitable happened.
HUGE CHEERS arose from the legendary stadium as the Arsenal fans we had left behind; rejoiced in not one BUT TWO GOALS, scored in minutes 91″ & 93″ by a young Thierry Henry & Davor Suker respectively. To say I was gutted would be an understatement. At fifteen, I was distraught to have missed an incredible finale by my Premier League heroes.
Stay till the whistle – Sing till the end
And that is my story. It really can happen. I know AIK Solna aren’t the strongest of opposition but football really is a beautiful game, where anything can truly happen.
Your team has more chance of making that incredible fightback with the stadium loud & full rather than emptying with every passing minute, as the decibels of support fall, like the number of supporters – out of the exit doors.
Let’s change this ‘get home early’, ‘be the first to the train platform’ mentality and rediscover our love for the game, for your team – win or lose.
Make a day of it – embrace the talk and banter with your fellow fans as you queue for the resulting tube home.
Sing your heart out till the referee blows his whistle and surely it will only inspire your team to play their heart out for the shirt right?
Rally behind your team – Stay till the end is my message. Stay till the whistle.
Because one day, you may miss ‘that fightback’ and believe me, no one wants to live with that!
Do you agree?
Should fans stay to the end to support their team?
Do you have a similar story?
Have you experienced a late fightback?
Lets discuss! Leave your comments below….