Neutral - Who Me?
Neutral - Who Me?
So what does it feel like to be a neutral supporter at a fitba game? As I
generally go to matches involving either Motherwell or Glasgow s oldest hoops, indeed Scotland s oldest club side, I am therefore far from neutralwhen I attend any of these games. However I went to the other Lanarkshirestadium, if that’s the correct word for Cliftonhill, for a couple of gameslast season. One before the lights became an issue and were turned off byorder of the local Council and one when no lights were available. Thematches, Hamilton v. Airdrie, a derby fixture and the other Albion R v.Arbroath when the only light available in the gloom was provided by the lightening flickering overhead.
At both games I was a neutral, I honestlywasn’t bothered who won or lost. Just as well as in the derby game it wasprobably the poorest game I saw all season, and watching Motherwellregularly that says something about the fare on offer! The Wee Roversencounter was thankfully better, enlivened by an early goal from the RedLichties, who were on the promotion trail at the time. Quite a few of thefishing folk who travelled down for the early evening kick of missed it.But they did see one of their players sky the ball over the bar in thedarkness with minutes to left to the accompaniment of thunder andlightening perhaps being kind to the guy he was distracted by this naturalshow of fireworks. Lucky then that they had added to their total before hemissed!
The only other game I can recall where I attended as a neutral was the
Spain v. Itlay U-16 Euro Semi Final at Fir Park, but quickly warming to thefree expression displayed by the Spanish, compared to the Italians usualdefence in depth tactics. Becoming a non neutral and rooting for the youthsfrom the Iberian peninsular, my support was for underdogs and losers wascontinued with the more ruthless and regimented approach of the Italiansprevailing..
During the course of the season I went to a couple of games inGermany
where I went initially as a neutral. The games were Bayer Leverkeusen v.Hansa Rostok and Guttersloh v. KFC Uerdingen. As I had never seen any ofthe sides previously, or visited any of the grounds. However once insidethe Ulrich Haberland Stadium, Leverkeusen’s ground, which is avery modernstadium built by their sponsors, my sympathies transferred to the poor Osties from Rostok. Lavish fat cats restaurants which look over the pitch,franchising the cran stalls to MacDonalds at a German Ground – Danke Nein Danke! “The works team” as they are referred to by Koln’s main side and other sides from the Rhurpott is very apt. Even the support from their socalled fans in the seats, the only standing area being for visitors whose supporters were noisy compared to the apathetic volume generated by the home fans also cemented my support for the Osties.
At Guttesloh, the surprise package in the Zweite (2nd division) this
season, after reading the team lines and noting the two ex-Schalke and one ex-Bochum player in the home line up compared to only one ex-Schalke player in Uerdingen team meant that on the day I decided to support the home team. This was despite often staying in a hotel in Krefeld which overlooks Uerdingen’s ground! As it happens one of the ex-Schalke players scored from a free kick to put the home side a goal ahead, although this was equalised by Uerdingen’s ex Schalke man late in the game. Both this and the first game ended in 1-1 draws – so much for my support!!
The above details illustrate the small, or large, items which can influence me to come off the fence at a game, personally I experience more when my emotions are involved supporting one side or the other. Generally my sympathies go to the underdog, or underachiever.
I hoped to go to France for Mondial 98, but not to a game involving
Scotland, but for Holland v. Belgium. Probably not the best game to pick
due to the recent hooliganism in Brussels and Lokeren, where the game was abandoned when 2-0 to the home side as several hundred Antwerp fans invaded the pitch and got the game abandoned as their side was relegated for the first time ever. I should go to the game as a neutral but because of my friendship with a couple of Wallons who also follow Motherwell’s fortunes as well as my adopted side Charleroi, I was supporting the Les Diable Rouges at St. Denis on 13th June. Before I went I only hoped that the riot police would look more favourably at an Ecosse supporting the Wallonian side of Belgium than the Flemish type when he weighs in with is baton cos then, who me mate? I’m a neutral – HONEST!!
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