Watching Sydney FC beat Newcastle Jets in the last regular season game got me thinking about why Sydney FC seem to continue to struggle to attract good crowds.
I’m bemused by the idea that there are people who would rather stay at home and watch Sydney FC on the telly and listen to the inane ramblings of any commentator who isn’t Simon Hill. I’m at a loss to explain how someone who is in a position to choose between a live football game and watching the same game on the TV, decides to watch at home. It makes me wonder what they do on gameday because frankly, I wouldn’t ever choose to watch a game on TV if I had the option to see it live.
At its core is the camaraderie of shared experience, the same stuff that creates lifelong bonds among people who have fought in wars or travelled the world together, sharing experiences that evoke strong emotions builds bonds between fellow travellers that overcome the differences in age, religion, culture and education that normally act as barriers. In simple terms I can start talking to a fellow match-goer and instantly have more that joins us than separates us, there’s nothing quite like football as a live experience week in week out to put people through the wringer emotionally and build those bonds, something you don’t get through the second-hand experience of watching the same thing on TV.
My gameday experience is a wonderful combination of comfortable routine and unpredictable events that just can’t be replicated in any lounge-room or den.
Yes, there are things about going to a game that can be shit, like transport, parking, prices, weather, etc. etc. And sometimes the entire experience is miserable, yes, I’m looking at you Sydney FC v NZ Knights, Jan 7 2007 in the pissing rain and in front of the English ‘Barmy Army’, but I still wouldn’t swap it for the sterile, manicured, bland hand-me-down ‘atmosphere’ of a game on TV.
I love walking into the Bat & Ball and being greeted by the staff as a welcome regular rather than a suspicious hooligan in waiting, and catching up with the many, many friends I’ve made through going to games, many of whom I would never have otherwise had the chance to know. I love leaving at the last minute, anticipation building as we walk over the Tibby Cotter Bridge, and especially approaching gate C and hearing The Cove in full voice, that sound makes my spine tingle.
Watching the game from behind the goals is terrible for viewing I admit, but after a dozen seasons in the same seat in the back row, nothing beats the waves of emotion that ebb and flow throughout the game. Frankly if you haven’t been in the middle of the mad tsunami of arms, legs, scarves and beer that is a Cove goal celebration when we get a last minute winner against hated rivals, you haven’t really experienced what supporting a football team really has to offer.
– By Grant Muir for [FC BALLER]