In my previous article, I talked about the joys I experienced watching my team, Newport County, complete the great escape during the 2016-17 season. We struggled to contain our excitement at remaining in League Two that day because it meant so much to the club. As a fan-owned club, we cannot always compete with the finances and the infrastructure of the bigger clubs, even including teams in the same division as us. So, relegation last year would have been a disaster. Obviously, it is a disaster for any football club but playing in non-league would mean that we would most likely have lower crowds which means lower revenue and a club like County’s most important source of revenue is the crowd. Referring to the bigger clubs again, they can rely more on brand image and television rights as income which is something we cannot do.
The moral of the story is that despite the extortionate amounts of money now involved in football and the big money transfers, it cannot come close to the value of supporting your local football club. Being a season ticket holder at Newport, I watch every home game and go to as many away games as I can. Most seasons, you are going to experience your ups and downs as a club but that’s what pulls you through. That’s what makes you want to go to the next game. County were on an 8-game losing streak during the 16-17 season around December/January, but it would not keep me away. I was still optimistic for the next game. I don’t think I could ever not turn up to a County home game because of recent results/form. I respect fans’ choices to not come to the game if it isn’t going well but I could never do it myself.
If you’re a loyal supporter of a football club, you must know how good that feeling is when you finally end that winless run or if you get a last-minute equaliser. I watched County away at Cheltenham in February 2017 and it was a freezing day. We didn’t play well at all, but we snatched a last-minute equaliser. There were loads of County fans behind the goal where it was scored, and the players were celebrating with the fans like we’d won the World Cup. Moments like that can stick out in the memory.
As I said, you will experience the highs and lows but that’s makes it so much more worthwhile. Long journeys in the car or on the train to away games are all part of it. I live in South Wales and I went to Gateshead on the last day of 2010-11 season in the Conference. We won the game 7-1 which did make it even more worthwhile, but the point is, whatever the result, I’d still want to travel to any part of the country to see them play every game if it was possible. In contrast, I watched County lose 5-1 away to Leeds earlier this season after a long journey on the supporters’ coach. We got back to Newport at around 3am but just because we lost the game, I don’t regret going. Another example is when I went to Morecambe away early in the 2014/15 season where it took us 6 hours to get up there because of bad traffic and we only just made it in time for kick-off. To make matters worse, we lost the game 3-2 after being 2-0 up at half time. That sort of thing would put a lot of people off and I understand if it would. But not me.
I completely understand that winning and getting results is the main priority in football but the value of following and supporting your team is up there with one of the most important things in football in my view.
Do you share these views? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!