Monsieur Salut wrote: the old ones are not always the best, but our current plight – described with melancholy beauty in Pete Sixsmith’s report of Sunderland 0-4 Southampton – and the poor health suffered by a friend prompted me to dig out this piece, first published in November 2008.
The original article began with some references to racist behaviour, happily rare and irrelevant to today’s situation, so I will skip them here. The rest seems all too applicable now, though I have slightly edited it.
Fill in the gaps from your own experiences (mass walk-outs, instant social media responses etc have become features of some supporters’ lives since this posting first appeared) of following SAFC through thick, thin and thinner. And please get better Graham Noble, friend, former colleague and the subject of the final anecdote …
Our fans are generally good at ensuring that their loyalty to SAFC transcends despair and anger at what is going on during the game. Comes with practice. During our dismal showings at Stoke and Chelsea (2017 update: choose from many seasons past but the reference was to 2007-2008 – Ed), you would expect even the saintliest SAFC supporter to feel cross.
But I loved this posting at the Blackcats forum from Gerry McGregor:
I won’t comment on the match, others have. What I will comment on are our fans, the so called hooligans from the previous weekend. Did you hear us singing when we were 5-0 down. It was so good even the Chelsea fans beside us started to join in and applaud us. We did not turn on the team but supported them and most of us applaud them at the end. I like the chant of ‘we only want one shot’.
That was not quite the whole story, as Ian Todd pointed out in response:
A fair point, Gerry, but you can exclude from that praise the guy behind me (there’s always one) who slagged Jones off from the very first minute and then included Waghorn in his “they’re just not interested” taunt. Pretty well everyone (not that many didn’t deserve it) suffered his abuse throughout the afternoon. At half time moved across to revile the Chelsea fans across the barrier. Sadly his son who was with him is being brought up to believe that’s the way to behave and the language to use in doing so!
This prompted Gerry to admit to an unpleasant first-half experience at Stoke (luckily for those in range, the drunk who had cursed and spat, messily, for the first 45 minutes didn’t return for the rest of the game). And Gerry, too, hated to see “young kids following their parents in swearing all through the game. Will they grow up to respect other people’s views?”
Then there was the experience of my friend Graham at another 5-0 humiliation, the one at Ipswich under Peter Reid in 2001 (they ended up going down; we survived for another season).
Graham, not one of life’s natural football supporters but dragged along to the odd game by his SAFC-supporting partner, absent-mindedly applauded as the teams left the field at the interval. It was almost as if he was at the theatre.
Unfortunately, we were already four down.
“Applaud! Yer f****** applauding, yer stupid f****** twat? Aah’ve paid half a week’s f****** wages gannin’ doon heeyah to see that heap of f****** sh*** and youse f****** applauding the c****!”
Many or even most of us would probably own up to the occasional expletive aimed at refs or players. But the asterisk-laden quote above, reproduced from memory of Graham’s description, probably does no justice to the true nature and content of the poor man’s rant. Good job things perked up on the field; we only lost the second half 1-0.