Sunday, 27 November 2011

Supporting a Football Team

We gave one of our contributors, David Hamilton, the task of writing about how to support a football team. He tells us something that we arguably already know. Supporting a football team is one thing, supporting Partick Thistle is entirely different...

“Culter and the fallout.”

I like to think of supporting a football team is a lot like having a pet cat. You love it, you spend money on it, you do almost everything to win its affection…but we all know it secretly loathes you, and will scratch your eyeballs out if given half the chance. Ok, maybe that’s not the best way to describe being a Jags fan, but you get my drift. In essence your unconditional love seems to merit little reward.

A lot of fallout has followed the recent catastrophic, unimaginable, unforgivable, cardinal sinning draw to Junior North Super League side Culter FC. At this point I think it would be advisable to say that if you were thinking that Partick Thistle FC were going to go on an away trip, against a team we were expected to beat, and win by 6 or 7 goals, please: say goodbye to your friends and family because I’m sending Dr. Wertheimer of the Glasgow Psychiatric Department to pick you up momentarily. The argument that seems to have followed this result seems to be along the lines of, “if Airdrie can win 11-0,” or “if Livingston can beat Irvine, why can’t we?” It’s a good point…but unfortunately not a valid one. The one thing that these other SFL teams had going for them which we didn’t, is that they are not Partick Thistle Football Club.

The Jags have always made it hard for themselves in any given situation. I have always held the belief that there are two ways of getting things done in football: the easy way, or the Partick Thistle way. We choose the latter. But through thick and thin, through the rough and the smooth, The Jags can always count on one thing…the loyalty and unconditional support of its fans. Unfortunately, the events after full time up in Peterculter has divided the Thistle support, especially after a video emerged on the internet of rather heated Jags fans letting the players know exactly how they felt in no uncertain terms. After seeing this video I personally (and unusually for me, I must admit) fell into the slightly left-winged side of the spectrum, I didn’t enjoy it, or agree with it at all.

Come the evening of Saturday 19th November 2011, the Jags forum had literally gone into meltdown, with, I am sure, a record number of posts slamming the performance of the players. A bad day at the office for sure. However an argument that kept coming up was “well these guys just don’t care,” or “they are guaranteed a wage so they don’t want to put in any effort on the pitch.” I don’t agree with this. Footballers don’t become professional (or maintain professional standards) by not caring. In order to become a professional footballer, or successful businessman, or a successful venture capitalist you need one thing…determination. Nobody and I mean literally nobody would have been more hurt, more disappointed or more shamed by the performance than the players themselves.

Any footballer will tell you that they would see last Saturday’s performance as a personal failing, and would strive to improve as a result. Individual performances were very poor, but the player’s determination to improve and rise above that blow cannot be underestimated. Personally speaking, as someone who is glutton for punishment being a goalkeeper for a Sunday League side, I know personally how hard I beat myself up over mistakes made during a game (albeit through a drunken haze from the previous night), and I believe the players would have been feeling exactly the same in the dressing room after Saturdays match. But regardless of your sport, there is just one thing that an athlete cannot stand…and that is losing (oh yes, that result felt like a loss). An athlete must have a competitive streak in them in order to succeed, and I am sure that streak, coupled with the hurt of that match will make a very young team flourish in the future.

As mentioned above, and by our manager on numerous occasions, we have a very young and inexperienced team. The vast majority of those players are just starting to find their feet in the full-time professional game and the mistakes and errors they make now will stand them in good stead for the future. But what doesn’t help is the unconstructive criticism that was all too evident after the Culter game. You don’t need to be swearing or shouting at the players for them to realise they didn’t perform anywhere near the standards that Partick Thistle Football Club expect. They know that themselves. A player’s confidence can all but evaporate if they feel they do not have the full backing and support of their fans behind them! Nobody says you can’t be angry at a poor result, if you pay the gate money you are more than entitled to a say, but does that outweigh the argument that by doing so you could completely rip a player’s morale or confidence apart?

Now, it’s Friday 25th November, I still have no idea if Partick Thistle will beat Culter at Firhill. My heart and my head say yes we will. And I for one will be at Firhill tomorrow, cheering the boys to victory. I can only hope as many as possible will join me, and hopefully bury the unpleasantness of the past week both on and off the park. An unconditional love for the club must be accompanied by a support of all its players and followers alike. People seem to forget that footballers, just like everyone else, have personal or emotional problems off the park that can hinder their performance on it. I am confident that only a tiny fraction of players will not give their all on a Saturday. For this reason we must unite as supporters, and cheer on our team. Partick Thistle has been through harder times in the past, but through those hard times one constant has remained…the love of its supporters and their desire to “follow them everywhere.”

C’mon Thistle.

David Hamilton

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