It doesn’t do to look into the past, rose tinted glasses are in the same league as beer goggles when it comes to distortion. Men of a certain age (me and my like) will often remark to young whipper snappers (like my son and his mates), whilst watching that new fangled Sky Sports – “Back in the day, we had proper atmosphere. It were carnage when a goal were scored and we didn’t stop singing for the whole ninety minutes!”
“Yeh, yeh… and this is were you tell me, it’s never been the same since they did away with terracing blah blah blah.” I bet the youth have heard it a thousand times… they’ll hear it for the rest of my life.
Now and again, in a bid to reclaim some memories past, I’ll go and watch Northampton Saints down at the Franklin Gardens and take my beer onto the Gordon Terrace. It’s not the same, never was. Rugby doesn’t have the tribalistic traits of Association Football and I never settle when the opposition fans are standing next to me. It just feels wrong.
Now relegation from the Premiership can cost a club and it’s fans dearly, to the tune of many millions. There is the odd brucie bonus however and when the fixture list was set way back in the summer, there was one match that just had to be done. Away to Peterborough, arch rivals of the Cobblers (those were the days) and possesors of terracing still. Forget the whys and wherefores… one word, and only one word mattered. Terracing. Ridiculous overnight temperatures of -15c put paid to the Saturday fixture but finally, Tuesday evening of last week, Hooper and myself found ourselves stood on a football terrace for the first time in many moons.
The singing started some half hour before the game kicked off and I honestly don’t remember it ceasing except for the halftime break. Voices lost, old songs sang, abuse screamed and not a miserable face to be seen… well, not in our end anyway. A veritable moshpit ensued whilst the Okey Cokey rang out and two goals were fired in. Big Fat Sam was told in no uncertain terms about the style of football we expect and Greeno? Aye, he knows we want him to stay. I hugged people I didn’t know, then shoved and pushed the self same people, all the while with smiles on our faces and crossed Irons in our hearts.
Rose tinted glasses added nothing with the years. For once, the reality surpassed the memories and many an older fan went home happy. The kids? Listen long enough and you’ll hear them say – “They were right you know.”