Now without this being another cliché attack on the English game, whether it be grassroots or transfer fees, I’m talking about an issue much closer to home, and when I say home, I mean the hallowed turf, our homes away from home.
Ticket prices have come under scrutiny a lot as of late, but my concern comes from another area. As a young child, most of us fall in love with football after that first step into a roaring stadium. Beyond the mist of cigarette smoke and smell of burgers, there lived some magic, something which engulfed all of us, but as the generations age and the game moves forward, so has the passion some fans share.
Now some can argue football is a lot stricter than before, stewards demanding fans sit down, clubs putting bans on alcohol and police lurking around every corner. But without alienating myself, the fans are to blame.
It’s a struggle at times to even get the fans around you to stand, let alone chant a song that I doubt many know. This is something Arsenal fans will understand all too well, after all they were supplied song sheets by their own club.
We have all been there, a quiet stadium and then suddenly one or a select few start to chant and yet they are seen as the outcasts. It’s almost as if these select few, so called deranged lunatics, are ruining what was supposed to be peaceful afternoon.
It doesn’t also help with the level of loyalty shown by some fans these days. Call me old fashioned but the club my dad basically forced upon me is the club I will support till I die, no matter the standard they play in or how successful the club becomes.
Too many fans are deserting their hometown clubs, which has seen the levels of attendances drop within the football league in recent years. Young fans are more allured to the success of the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, with even some of the more fickle supporters leaving Manchester United after their recent baron spell.
The exploits of AFC Wimbledon fans who after their club moved to Milton Keynes, managed to boast on average 3000 fans in the lowest tier of English football are a true reflection of true football fans, who need to be admired and replicated.
TV has also been an effective factor in the downfall of football atmosphere, with fans preferring to stay in doors watching games, rather than traveling to see their team play. Its creating what many call armchair supporters, some of which have never seen their team play live, something every fan should experience.
But its not just the un-loyal and armchair fans who are damaging football, the constant barrage of tourism is by no means helping.
I remember a recent game I attended which saw Tottenham host Stoke. Sitting next to the Stoke fans, it’s always going to be a memorable game, with a buzzing atmosphere. But having five Americans behind me chanting “you can’t shoot” and “bring on Yedlin”, it’s not exactly catchy.
Fairplay to these Americans though, they never stopped and wanted to get involved whenever they could, but this is a problem that occurs a lot in football. We all have those parts of the stadium, the rough parts, the loud parts, the alluring seats that seem to scream danger but at the same time excitement. But instead of just staying alluring, they’re almost like a tourist attraction, which after a while simply becomes just another seat.
The atmosphere is almost being driven out by people wanting to experience said atmosphere. Now not all football is dull, with the sound of a penny dropping being followed by rings of shushing by fellow fans, some football still offers the same magic it always has.
Not so much in the home support these days, but away days still offer that same buzz, as well as your local derbies and fierce rivalries. But I asked you, who really wants to be in the stadium when West Brom play Watford?
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are some fans out there who have taken it upon themselves to change things, with myself experiencing the 1882 movement. If you didn’t already know, this is a group of Tottenham fans who aim to take over a block in the stadium for a game, encouraging all supporters who want to sing, join together and sing their hearts out.
This mainly happens during the less popular games, such as the Carling Cup and Europa League matches, most recently Qarabag at home.
I attended that particular game myself in the block obtained by the 1882 movement and I can categorically say that it was the best Europa League tie I have ever attended. From the minute I found my seat, or shall I say my place to stand, to the minute I left it, it was a constant sea of chants, which though may not have lifted the stadium from its roots, or had the place rocking from its core, certainly made the game a memorable experience.
Too bad though that once the club enter the latter stages of the competition, these seats will yet again become like gold dust and will become almost impossible for these group of fans to merge together.
I spoke earlier about the ticket prices in brief and though I do not think it’s the deterrent many report it to be, especially as the levels of attendance has steadily risen in recent years, it’s still an issue in terms of loyal fans.
Some fans simply won’t pay the extortionate prices some clubs charge, and I know a lot of QPR fans since their rise in fame who refuse to attend games because they are not willing to pay the prices.
This in effect sees the old school fan almost priced out of the game, more so with lower league clubs. The atmosphere is in turn impacted as the old life blood of the club is being replaced with tourists and uneducated fans.
Football has come a long way since the days of fighting in the streets and though it still happens in circles, there is no reason the atmosphere in football should die as well. Just look at Borussia Dortmund in Germany, every game is something like a cup final, with the price of a season ticket probably less than a flight to the country.
I would love to experience this atmosphere in person one day and though this almost discredits my points made so far, watching my team play and feeling that same buzz I did as a young child is all I need or want.
But like a gold digging blonde bombshell, my needs are sometimes satisfied away from home, especially as Tottenham rarely play on a Saturday. This has seen me experience plenty, from Edgar Davids debut for Barnet to a friend of mine playing for Edgware town in the Spartan league.
Now without rambling into much detail, myself and a few friends spent our time at Edgware chanting and badgering the opposing players, in a packed out ground of around 30 fans, which actually saw both teams as well as the club Chairman applaud our support after the game, which proves what a simple bit of atmosphere can achieve.
I would like to finish this by diving deeper into something I mentioned previous regarding the magic in football and for some clubs around the country, this is still true. So I ask, get yourself down to your football club, sing your heartsout and if anyone gives you a dirty look, sing louder, sing until they sing with you and become part of the atmosphere, bringing the myth to life.
Also I ask, to anyone reading, to talk about your favorite away days, post videos or leave links in the comments, of some of the home atmosphere they don’t show you on Match of the Day.