Published on October 1st, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman13
“Absent friends” | Ian Cheeseman
Written by Ian Cheeseman
Criticising any fan for not attending a game is unfair and unnecessary. For 95% of the population, and I include myself in that group, living is expensive. Life is a struggle with lots of demands on your hard earned cash.
Family, food, travel – everything costs money, and as I’ve taught my boys, you have to make choices. One of those choices is to be a football fan who attends games. When I started going to games on a regular basis in the 1970s my parents paid for my tickets, but as I got older I had to pay for my season ticket and travel, and it was me that had to beg a day off work for midweek games. Football was cheaper then than it is now, and most games were played on a Saturday at 3pm, that’s why I started my working life as a bank clerk. Banks closed at 330pm weekdays and at weekends.
I became involved in the City Travel Club as a steward, which eventually earned my free train ticket, that helped. In the 1980s I got married and my life changed. I had responsibilities, I was finding it even harder to survive with a family, and harder to finance my football obsession.
It’s a long story, which I tried to explain in my book “Best Job in the World” but I started to get involved in the media when City fans were banned from a game at Luton, which (not as easy as it sounds) led to me eventually building a career in the media and a full time job at the BBC.
My aim was to see City in every game, home and away, and still be able to afford to live.
Through determination and luck I got my dream job and currently get paid to watch City and other games too.
I get annoyed when I see and hear fans, who’re not as lucky as me, being criticised for missing games. I know how difficult and expensive it is. Those fans have to buy expensive season tickets, get to and from games, plan their working life and social life around fixture changes at unpredictable times. Some are told they’re not real fans if they don’t buy all three expensive replica shirts a season.
City have loyal fans, most were there through the harder times, but now the club is re-positioning itself, aiming for a new generation, who might not even want to go to every game, but who can afford to pay for tickets and are lured by the quality of football and success that the club has been enjoying. It’s a part of growing, and those new fans should me made as welcome as anyone else, without them the club can’t grow (significantly) and comply with FFP, but on the other side of that coin, some of those newer fans don’t feel the need to go to every match, especially midweek games that are being shown on TV.
Why then do former (millionaire) footballers, turned pundits feel the need to “have a go” at “missing fans”? Are they really that detached from the real world?
All real fans have to do is to have the club in their heart, whichever club that is, and support them in whatever way they can, whenever the can. All fans of your football club whether there, or there in spirit, should be treated with the same amount of respect!