Sunday, 4 August 2013

"It's only a game" they said..

It's a depressing, March evening at St. Andrews. We're 6-0 down – soon to be seven – against Liverpool in an FA cup tie. It’s getting heated; already there’s been a fan on the pitch to confront Steve Bruce. My dad turns to me and says we should leave. Turning round to him, I flat out refuse. No. We have to stay till the end.

I've never lost that, which is probably one of the only ways in which I consider myself stubborn; I'm not one for giving up. That, and years of watching Blues has probably made me begin to lose my mind. I think it helps to be a little bit gone in the head, that and drinking lots of alcohol.

I'm also a great optimist. I love that quality in people and see it as something to admire. When it comes to Blues, you'd think it'd waver, but for me it just gets stronger (no, I don’t get it either!)

You see, I love that club to death. It's a love hate relationship at the best of times, but when it comes down to it, there's nowhere I'd rather be on a Saturday, a Tuesday, or even the odd Wednesday, than watching them play.

Don't get me wrong. I'll call a spade a spade; when we aren't doing well, when something's going wrong I'll voice my opinion, and criticise whoever deserves blame – which I did last season.

But for me, whatever is going on at the club; the financial uncertainty, the corrupt ownership, even not agreeing entirely with the appointed manager, I’ll never stop going to watch them.

In Bruges - one of the most memorable couple of days in my lifetime

I've always been one to back the team as a whole, the manager, and the players as individuals. I've never booed a player or a manager and I can't see myself ever doing so. It's just how I'm built. I don't profess myself to be Lee Clark's biggest fan, but I also think the guy deserves a break. He's put together a good squad with the (severely limited) tools he has at his disposal.

But I also get why people do get on his back and the backs of the players too. It's a way to vent your frustrations, your anger, at them not trying hard enough or being good enough despite you paying all that money. Just like I get the stay away fans, who have boycotted for whatever reason (the manager, the financial problems). I don’t agree with it, but if you’re way of making a point is by doing this then fair play to you. It’s just not in my nature to do it myself.

And if I can see the other side, surely it’s not too much to ask that people should be able see my point of view as well. After yesterday's game we saw a marked change in the side. They looked much improved on last season, and one game into the new season that's really all you can ask for, considering the circumstances.

Of course, there are more improvements yet to be made. The quality in the final third is lacking, but I'm optimistic they will get there. And if they don't? That's when I'll come out and criticise the team, because for me, one game into the season, getting on their backs isn't productive.

I live by the mantra that negative thoughts produce negative outcomes. If you drill it into yourself that the team are useless, you won't enjoy going to watch it, even when we do perform well because you'll still pick out the negatives instead of focusing on the positives.

I like to be positive, and take it one game at a time. I enjoyed watching an improved performance yesterday, seeing my friends, having a laugh, singing my heart out for my team. And next week I'll be doing the same. You can moan all you like, but I can’t see that as an ideal way of life. Surely it just gets a bit depressing?

Being optimistic doesn't making you unrealistic either, like I said even the most positive amongst us like myself isn't afraid to call a spade a spade and dig into the players and manager when they get it wrong, such as my two previous blogs mentioning the 352 formation and its faults, and some of our lacklustre performances in pre-season.

But jumping the gun so early on, for me, is counterproductive.

Yesterday every single one of those players showed pride in wearing the shirt, which was reciprocated by ardent support from the fans and one of the loudest renditions of KRO I've heard in a while. And if they continue to do that I'll continue to support them; in the one game they've played this season they've given me nothing to be angry or completely negative about. Of course goals win games, but performances win over fans, and the good performances have to be there in the first place to produce the goods in the shape of scoring goals and winning games.

Promotions, relegations.. it's part and parcel of football

It's hard to find many optimistic Blues fans given our current situation, but what Lee Clark has put together on no budget at all is working for me, and I look forward to seeing what this bunch of young and hungry players can do for my club.

As the song goes, there'll be joys and sorrows too; we've had to endure worse but we've also had some great days out along the way, more than I imagined anyway (my dad’s idea of introducing me to Blues as a child was “you have to get used to the fact that we’ll never win anything...”)

And as long as there's a club to support, I’ll be with them every step of the way. Even if I do completely soft in the head.

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