Yesterday I went to Villa Park to see Middlesbrough lose 3-0 to the Villains for the second time this season. It was one of the least enjoyable, most lifeless away days I’ve ever experienced. I won’t talk about my team’s management, tactics, and what went down on the pitch. But I will say Tony Pulis set up with the most defensive, most boring line up possible and the fans hated it. Despite being fifth in the league and having a strong mathematical chance of promotion it’s the most depressing time to be a fan of this football club for a long time. Hope and joy levels are well and truly sinking.
I arrived at the ground a couple of minutes into the match and was startled to see that a good portion of our allocated stand was empty. Much more concerning was that the fans were quiet. I’ve said on here before that as a fan who mostly goes to away games, I’ve hardly ever heard the home fans singing anywhere near as much as the away fans. I’ve always thought Boro fans were some of the best in the business at keeping the ballads firing throughout the match. For this match we were practically mute and there was very little to sing about. Everything we did sing was with little conviction and each chant faded away before it was completed. If you did sing you would be left feeling very self conscious about the sound of your own voice.
One chant we sang was the best we could offer
He can’t take a punch,
he can’t take a punch,
that Jack Grealish,
he can’t take a punch.
but even that was a cheap shot. Come on you fools- Grealish took the punch exceptionally well considering it came as a complete shock. He didn’t rush to retaliate when many would have. He simply sat there, dusted himself off, got up and went on to score the winning goal (something we’ve not done for a while). So I can’t help but think the people who devised that one were a bunch of morons at worst, and desperate and devoid of ideas at best.
I was stood on the top left of the upper stand, away from the big bunch of fans to my right. This left me with maximum exposure to a few individual cretins who make me ashamed to be a football fan. Angry men who don’t watch the match, whose attention is focused on the opposition fans for long periods, swearing and abusing those who they know don’t know and will never meet. In this sense it’s like road rage or trolling, where people express as much rage at other individuals as they like while hiding behind the comfort of an automobile or a computer screen.
I understand a bit of jeering, that’s all part of the fun. But when the other team has scored and they’re pissed off, instead of keeping quiet like civilised human beings, they continue to express their anger by more violent swearing and insults, doing exactly what the opposition want them to do and paving the way to be mocked and abused themselves. The Villa fans absolutely terrorised us all game. I even chortled to myself when I heard them mocking the pig bag theme, singing
Du, du, du, DU…
Du, du, du, DU..
That was among the wittiest chants I’ve ever heard at a game. Whoever improvised that and got that one going- give yourself a pat on the back my friend.
They also sang
Oh Tammy, Tammy…
Tammy, Tammy, Tammy, Tammy Abraham!
which was really good. The guy was absolutely lethal all game and looks to be the real deal.
I did something I’d never done before that match; left early. It got to the 85th minute and I just couldn’t see the point of staying anymore. I thought about all the times I’d watched from across the stadium as the home fans poured out of the stands
We can see you, we can see you, we can see you sneaking out!
And to think that I was one of those fleeing specimens now. It sits uneasily. But i’ll try and explain why.
I’d just seen a bunch of dodgy minors on my left, who’d been trying to cause trouble all game stood by the home fans getting escorted out, and as I gazed back up at to my right, a bit of a ruckus, a bit of infighting, and then down at the bottom a middle aged man was being marshalled away by the stewards while the Villa fans called him a fat bastard. We were a complete laughing stock.
I’d had enough of where I was. The atmosphere was so depressing it reminded me of fucking Barnsley away 2013. I was out of there. All this bollocks, it’s what throws the game into disrepute. It’s the ugly side of the beautiful game ladies and gentlemen. The actions of a few mindless yobs who do football for completely the wrong reasons.
As I walked out of the stadium I heard roaring, and for a split second I felt that hot feeling in my spine as I considered I might have missed a Boro consolation. Then I heard “Oh Albert Adomah, Oh Albert Adomah!” and knew I’d missed Villa putting the icing on the cake. I remember that chant from the good old days, when we used to win at home, we had a successful formula in place and we used to approve of our manager.
Fair play to those who stayed until the end, and sang
we’re fucking shit,
we’re fucking shit,
we’re fucking shit
and supported us throughout. I’ll see you guys again soon, we will get through these ugly times together, preferably having a nice sing song while we’re at it.