Throughout my time playing Non-league football I have travelled to many grounds and come into contact with many different fans. Being the closest player to the opposition support, us keepers have to put up with our fair share of abuse week in week out. Much of this is in good humour, for example during the last couple of years I have been called Jesus (because of my once long hair, not because of my miraculous skills) Shaggy from Scooby doo and more recently Alan from The Hangover. At least I hope this is in good humour, and not just people simply stating facts! But on Tuesday night as we travelled to Margate for a massive top of the table clash between two teams still very much in the running for promotion, the Margate fans gave me one of the best and most imaginative chants I have heard.
As I was lining up for a goal kick ( which is optimum abuse time) midway through the first half, one fella behind the goal mentioned rather loudly that he had read my blog, and then went onto to tell me that his four-year old son can write better than me. His fellow Margate supporters then politely joined in and gave me what I will only describe as some more constructive criticism. Before long the 100 odd supporters behind my goal had started singing: ‘You have got a s**t blog, you have got a s**t blog la la la la!’ As I ran up to take the subsequent goal kick (which I coincidently shanked) I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel. On one hand I thought ‘blimey, have I really got a s**t blog?’ or was it just witty Non-league banter? While another part was actually quite pleased simply with the fact that people have been reading it as far away as exotic Margate! After all, as the old saying goes, ‘no publicity is bad publicity!’
But in all seriousness, this sort of crowd banter is fantastic and is certainly an aspect of Non-league football that I enjoy. Being a fan at a Non-league club allows you to get up close with the players and the action and very rarely have I witnessed or received abuse from crowds which has crossed the line. Non-League fans, on the whole, have many of the same beliefs as the players and understand that football is not just about those earning £100,000 a week but about the enjoyment. The banter/abuse from the crowd is often equalled out by the same people congratulating you in the bar after the game, and it is this that makes lower League football so special.
So to the fans at Margate who very kindly let me know what you thought of my Blog, thanks for reading it and I hope you continue to enjoy my posts!