Monday, 1 November 2010

Chester FC vs Leigh Genesis

It strikes me that as fans of this new incarnation of Chester Football Club, we have already been treated to many of the mandatory facets of fandom.

Firstly, the obligatory "who's who" period, in which each player is referred to by their most prominent feature, or lookalike, until their names are burnt into our minds as those of work colleagues are.  This period was extended this year, the absence of names on shirts making the process as difficult as trying to identify which Scouting For Girls track is which before the chorus kicks in.  Indeed, where I was stood, Andy Burgess was still "the tall blonde one" for much of the Warrington clash.

Even putting aside the necessary administrative tasks that we undertake as fans (these also include ranking the pies at each new ground attended and looking down upon any player not wearing the standard black boots), the results and performances have given us plenty of chance to enjoy and endure the full range of emotions that a football fan experiences.  We've already had resounding wins, frustrating draws, hard-fought narrow victories and a home defeat in a table-topping clash.  Pre-season even granted us a fantastic fightback, from three down against FC United of Manchester.

As such, we've been left with plenty to discuss.  The 6-0 against Trafford had us getting ready to crown Michael Wilde as Chester's new goal-scoring legend whilst talking excitedly about Bradley Barnes, and his box-to-box heroics.

At Warrington, and Wakefield, talk was of the difficulties inherent in playing on bumpier, longer pitches.  Defeat to Chorley made us realise how tough this league can be but the 5-0 against Bamber Bridge, with a couple of players missing, showcased our strength in depth, which could yet be the key to our season.

And for those of you who missed Witton... well, please forgive us for the relentless recounting of that night.  It really was that good.

And what is brilliant about the above, other than the mere fact that it displays, in a microcosm, the various ups and downs of following your football team, is that it's also the first time in my lifetime that discussions surrounding my football club have been focused firmly, almost exclusively, on the football.

We must not take this for granted.  An increasing number of fans across the country are watching their teams face insolvency or corporate greed, and as a group of supporters who have experienced such horrors on multiple occasions over the past two decades, we can empathise.  We must also do our utmost to make sure we don't repeat the mistakes that lead to such situations, if only because, as alluded to above, there's enough talking to be done about the football without needing to slide down that route again.

Indeed, the post-match analysis can be fascinating, and is perhaps one of the things that transforms a football club into a community.  Everyone leaves having taken something different from the game; "our forwards were immense today", "their defence was poor", "I thought we were much better in the second half", "did you notice the colour co-ordination of the trees behind the goal?".  Admittedly, some of these comments merit less discussion than others, the last one almost causing me to change my friends, but the point is that if 2,500 people turn up to a football match, there will be 2,500, often conflicting, opinions to break down in the pub, on the web or in work whilst the boss isn't listening - and frankly, this is enough for me to be getting on with.

Juggling scores of different opinions on a game, the tactics, the referee, the tree co-ordination - it's a complicated process.  You start to question
your own assessment of the game.  Maybe it wasn't a penalty after all. Maybe we were far luckier than I'd thought, through my blue-tinted specs. With all these different takes on a match, you can see why football managers have a stressful and often thankless task.

As I'm sure we all are, I'm relishing having a football club where football is the main focus.  It feels as though it's been too long.  And of course the other issues should be discussed too, in order to ensure history doesn't repeat itself, but for the time being let's enjoy our self-appointed role as the most knowledgeable and argumentative pundits in the game.  It is a privilege.

Come on you Blues!

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