A View From OZ: Where's The Support?
Tonight, still today in England, I sat down to watch Queens Park Rangers play at home to Stoke City in the championship. In comparison to Ashburton Grove, Loftus Road is a fish tank, to put its size in perspective it is not even half the capacity of Highbury. Yet, still, a three quarters full QPR crowd out sung almost any crowd at the Grove except for on the rare occasions, three times a season, when T*ttenham, United or Chelsea come to visit.
This is not really all that surprising, Arsenal home fans having earned a reputation as a quiet bunch. It would be much less surprising if it were West Brom, Wolves or Cardiff fans belting out songs at a volume that shames the part-time supporters and glory hunters that attach themselves to clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and United. QPR, though, are going through some what of a rennaisance with their new Formula One money and Italian flavor and it seems to be reflected in the crowd and their attitude, but still one would think they were safe in assuming that a team sitting top of the table in the self-proclaimed 'best league in the world' would have more to sing about than a team pushing for mid table security in the division below.
Now before I offend to many people who I mean no disrespect to, I have stated many times before that, even from televised coverage, it is apparent that Arsenal's away fans are some of the most vocal and humorous in the country. So why is it that the home support is so shit?
While watching the Villa game this weekend with a bunch of mates, some of who go to watch our local team every week, we were all embarrassed, even from the other side of the world, by the lack of atmosphere and noise coming from the Arsenal fans at their own stadium and how clearly audible Villa's fans (even their less tasteful of chants) were over them. It was not as if this was an irregular occurence, Arsenal's home-only fans regularly seem to grow disenterested in games and their role as 'supporters', quite often because we are winning to easily rather than struggling to do anything. Granted our performance was absoloutely void of creativity and passion, but should we really expect our players to always show up on their A-game every week when our support can only do it three times a year? Do fans not play some active, and important, role in making home advantage actually an advantage? Should athletes feel as if they are playing football in a stadium or a theater?
Whether or not supporters play an active role in their teams success, and whether or not both players and fans have a duty to perform to a certain standard is an old debate. In some European and South American countries support must be earned and if the performance of the team is not up to par then the performance of the fans can be more threatening to the players and manager of the home team than the away fans, Steau Bucharest, Red Star Belgrade, Dinamo Zagreb and River Plate are all examples of such fans.
In Europe there is also another type of support, that of the true 'Ultra'. Not the neo-nazi Lazio fans, or knife wielding Madrid supporters but the supporters of clubs such as Braan, Dortmund, Panathanaikos, Helsingborgs, Legia Warsaw and their like, who spend spare time during their working week making 40 metre square banners and spend whole games singing, dancing and jumping to will their team on, regardless of the results or performances.
Recently English football fans, and many Arsenal fans included, have been extremely vocal and active in their opposition to the ridiculous 39th game scheme, claiming that the clubs and the league were taking them and their support for granted and that clubs were becoming more and more business and profit orientated. Taking, taking, taking and giving nothing back. All though I believe this to be the truth, when should fans feel a responsibility and duty to give something back, if not to their club and its owners/chairmen, then to the team they watch? Why can fans be so vocal and active in rallying against the likes of Scudamore and Usmanov but are so silent and passive in rallying behind their team? when do you stop being an Arsenal 'supporter' and become merely a guy in Arsenal shirt with a ticket?
Sorry for those who read this who get offended - especially coming from an Aussie - but after that dire performance, from both fans and team, I needed to vent the frustration in some form.
Cheers people. Sing Up For The Arsenal!!!