Growing up as an Aston Villa fan, like most other clubs, there have been good times and bad times. So much changes in sport and at times you can be so attached to the fortunes of the club you support and at times you can be more ambivalent with what happens. Let’s face it, as an individual, the clubs don’t notice if you are there or not. If you don’t go, someone else will. If you don’t get excited about a result, someone else will. As I have got older, I have realised this and have altered my viewpoint on the role of the fan in modern day football.
When I was late teens, I was a regular at Villa Park watching Aston Villa whenever I could. My leisure wear was mostly sport related too. I was officially a football nut. Most of my conversations were about football. Most of my weekends were taken up with watching football, reading about football or listening to football on the radio.
There are worse things to do and I certainly kept away from the more undesirable side of football. I was quite happy just going along and being part of a set of friends who went to the match, had some drinks, had a laugh among ourselves, kept ourselves to our ourselves importantly too, and then came home again afterwards. Those were good times.
It was only really when I moved away from the area that I stopped going so often. I had got interests elsewhere that were starting to take over my spare time and whilst I didn’t go quite as often, I still enjoyed my time going to a ground and watching a match. I haven’t been to a game now for a number of years but still support the club from afar even though they aren’t as good as they were when I was there back in my youth!
Nowadays I don’t even watch Villa every single time they are on television. I watch when I can, and still support them but it is more of a distance thing in so many ways now. #AVFC
When I moved to Pontefract in 2017, I went along to watch non-league side Pontefract Collieries. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found there. The ground was a lot less advanced than Villa Park, but there is a fair bit of difference in their turnovers! The team tried to play good flowing football and whilst the quality was a different level to what I had been used to previously, these guys can play.
When you are at a match and the attendance is approx. 150-180 you get to feel a lot closer to the action. The players can hear what you are saying, and who is saying it! You can hear the crunch of the tackles. You can see that the entry fee is going to something specific like the leaky toilets, or that the pint you buy in the bar will help fund repairing the roof, that kind of thing. Moreso, you feel like you are part of it.
Over the last two seasons, me and my friends have seen more wins than losses, more sendings offs and bookings than we would have expected and also seen some very good games. Ponte Colls were promoted again last season for the second season in a row and are currently in a play-off position this year too.
This is a place where each person CAN make a difference by attending and supporting. Give me a match where there are around 150 people there over 40,000 any day. They are completely different ends of the spectrum and I know which one I feel a part of nowadays. I am still an Aston Villa fan, but my main involvement with football now is going to watch the Colls! UTC!